Bold Patterns

Stephen Meisels, 'Vogue Patterns', 2007

With Spring on its way, there is extreme pressure to get on board with patterns.  With this in mind at the weekend, I happily marched off to Liberty with a voucher and a burning desire to spend some cash.  After serious cognitive intervention, I backed away from the Manolos and tried on a Peter Pilotto print dress.  I emerged from the dressing room to a couple of swooning salespeople, flapping wildly about the intricacy of the pattern.  ‘Look at this signature chain detail, woven into the silk – and that’s just the foundation of what is an amazing print!’

As a woman, I appreciate that all of that is true.  I wonder if a man, however, would see this dress as he saw one of those early 90s 3D posters – you know the kind where if you squint your eyes up and look long enough, Jesus’s face will emerge… or a palm tree… or a Rolling Stones mouth?

While this dress probably doesn’t have any of those features, it did seem to convert my breasts into Lara Croft-like wireframes.  I suppose that’s a score for the men.  Otherwise, I fear that patters might do to men what they do to the eye.  Confuse.

The same goes for these Liberty, tropical and/or floral prints, rumoured to be all the rage this season. Are the feminine? Yes.  Do they attract the eye? No question.  But aren’t they just a little… Little House on the Prairie for these times? Oh wait, we are making them modern by clashing them.

Clashing patterns.

I read once that the difference between art and fashion is that art, in its time, is unpopular and later proves beautiful whereas fashion is at first popular and later seen as ridiculous.  Except the classics.  Like the little black dress. Men, in their wisdom, like those.  Well done, men.

I take it back – maybe patterns don’t confuse men at all.  Maybe men just see through them to the susceptible fashion victim underneath – and recognise that more straightforward styling choices reflect a stronger pattern of thought.

As a post script, I never bought the dress (more down to fit than pattern). The salesperson did try her best to convince me; she even brought me a pair of shoes to compliment the outfit. She went with the classic choice – the Manolos, and so then did I.


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  1. #1 by jennamilly on March 14, 2012 - 8:50 pm

    Love this one! And this quote… “art, in its time, is unpopular and later proves beautiful whereas fashion is at first popular and later seen as ridiculous…”

  2. #2 by Tinni Guha Roy on March 14, 2012 - 8:59 pm

    Gotta say, not a lover of the patterned dress. For exact reason you state, they make me look like I’m trying to be the brown version of Laura Ingalls-Wilder. I do not have a little house on the prairie.

  3. #3 by Courtney on March 14, 2012 - 9:00 pm

    Do not say Rolling Stones mouth.

  4. #4 by A.M. on March 14, 2012 - 10:29 pm

    I’m totally turned off my flower patterns, but cannot get enough of geometrics… not sure what this says about me… total 80s girl at heart? I do agree with you that patterns can be too much of a good thing. Thinking of a simple but bold block dress as we speak. Would love a forum added to this blog where Soho could weigh in on cothing choices!!

  5. #5 by A.M. on March 14, 2012 - 10:30 pm

    Actually… I’m going for it Soho… what do you think of this number?

    • #6 by sohospeaks on March 14, 2012 - 10:38 pm

      I love this idea, A.M. — almost as much as I love you in blue. Also, loving the Mouret-esque cut to that frock. I think you can rock this. I demand photo evidence for my forum…

  6. #7 by Misterchappers on March 15, 2012 - 12:59 am

    Hold up Soho!
    But three installations ago, you sang the praise of a monochromatic black bra/white tank combo.
    Needless to say this new patterned fad has knocked me for a six…
    Unless the key lies with black bra/white tank on top and possibly patterned flourescent (Luberty!) MC Hammer pants on bottom. And Manolos underneath.
    Which, really, when you think about it, takes me right back to your first exquisite blog re:RiRi. I think she, of all people, could rock this. I think we, of all people, should follow.
    Deliciously, circuitously back to where we started! Unh!

    • #8 by Misterchappers on March 15, 2012 - 1:00 am

      LUBERTY??? For SHAME!

  7. #10 by Marianne Moulson (@mammymole) on March 15, 2012 - 3:25 am

    My 90 year old mother-in-law has never met a print she didn’t like but she’s not so big on color block geometrics

    • #11 by sohospeaks on March 15, 2012 - 8:41 am

      Well maybe we can do a point counterpoint with her on here. A podcast?

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