If we are to believe the September issues of the big fashion magazines, currently thumping their way into our homes, the hot items to have this autumn will include a romantic print dress and a pair of high boots. After a period of quite dressed-down and minimalist fashion, it feels quite refreshing to see some of the very beautiful and highly decorative autumn collections. Already my thoughts are turning to the potential combinations with shearling chubby, hats, and with strappy shoes and sheer tights for some YSL glamour instead of the boots.
Lanvin, Gucci, Valentino have all adopted this theme in different ways: tasselled and glittering at Lanvin; bookish and bohemian at Gucci; and streamlined to let the pattern say it all at Valentino. Then there is Dries van Noten and Etro, the labels that inhabit this space all the time, continuing to produce beautiful prints and brocades just begging to be mixed and matched.
In New York, the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute has already been inspiring this more opulent style with its China through the looking glass exhibition. If, like me you are frustrated at not being able to see it in person, then I highly recommend a dose of Wong Kar Wai’s exquisite In the Mood for Love for a scarlet-tinged fix of high glamour.
London may not have the Met’s China blockbuster but it will be hosting some equally inspiring exhibitions this Autumn, with two promising to open our eyes to an array of lush textiles and prints. First to open on 3 October will be the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Fabric of India, staged as part of its Festival of India. Then, complementing it beautifully will be the Fashion and Textile Museum’s Liberty in Fashion starting on 9 October.
So, by way of warm-up for these momentous events, there will be a short series of posts on textiles and prints, starting with the, somewhat surprising, origins of the teardrop print motif known in England as “paisley” and elsewhere as “boteh” or “buta”.