STELLA MCCARTNEY: Killing it with kitsch
It was Stella McCartney's gorgeous, very wearable, resort 2017 collection that inspired me to write this post. You know me, I love a retro-kitsch print - those chocolate-boxy, country meadow scenes, or mountains with galloping horses, picnicking couples under trees, cute domestic animals. . . .? Or one can go a bit 'tropical-kitsch' with palm trees, flamingos, jumping orcas. . . you get my drift! My lovely Pinterest boards will help you visualise. And my new illustration above, in her fringe boots and Stella silk top.
For her Resort 2017 collection, Stella McCartney plumped for some subtle embroidered mountain motifs, country garden birds, landscapes with streams and divine doggy prints; an altogether, quintessentially English take on kitsch! There was also a large, galloping horse print in her Winter 2017 show; reminding me of those Louis Vuitton X Jeff Koons bags with Koons' hand-painted reproductions (can you believe it. . ??) of various famous paintings by the old masters printed on them. Watch the cool campaign vid here
Some of my other favourite designers have been going hard with the quirky, kitsch flavour on the runway too - and our furry feline friends seemed to feature highly! Check out Dolce and Gabbanna. . . .and that hand bag! Insane.
Gucci also went completely bonkers with their angry big cats and faux fur domestic rabbits, amongst others. Alessandro Michele I love you.
McCartney's take on kitsch is always a little quieter and less in-yer-face, shall we say. Her previous AW16 collection also featured a knitted landscape or two - and some very nice pussy cats, both on her clothes and on set! I loved this shoot. . . .
. . .and talking of knitted landscapes, anyone remember J.W. Anderson's menswear from a couple of years back - waterfall tank tops, anyone? What's not to love.
I'm also a fan of those smaller, illustrated 'scenes' repeated several times across the fabric (or wallpaper), usually onto a light colour background. I do possess a few vintage fabrics depicting similar subject matter (mainly from the 1960s and 70s), but I didn't really know the history behind this style of design.
Apparently this type of print originates from a French town just outside Paris called Jouy-en-Josas - and was being manufactured there back in the late 18th century, hence the name 'toile de jouy' or 'toile' for short (literally translated as 'fabric of Jouy')! Originally it was used mainly for soft furnishings and wall-coverings, but in the 1960s and 1970s, designers began using toile designs on garments too - and due to the current 1970s-inspired trends, that would explain why so many designers are giving the kitschy toile-inspired print or painterly landscape a nod!
Glasgow school of art graduate design duo Timorous beasties give traditional 18th century toile de jouey a 21st century reality check and create these cool little urban vignettes of London, New York and Glasgow. These are applied to fabrics, wallpapers, ceramic products - as well as being used for contemporary and vintage furniture upholstery (which I particularly love). Their urban toiles are only a small part of their enormous portfolio of the most glorious, statement-making surface pattern design. You've gotta take a look!
So, interestingly, the traditional 'toile' design has had many transformations over the last century or two! Courtesy of the Beasties, we've got homeless people on benches instead of picnicking couples, and police helicopters instead of singing birds in the sky! Such is the need to represent the reality of ones own environment, warts and all - that another Beastie, namely Mike D from the Beastie Boys (yes, 'licensed to ill' was pretty much the soundtrack to my early teens) designed a toile inspired by his native Brooklyn so he could decorate his house with it. His 'Brooklyn toile', created with Brooklyn's own wallpaper dons 'Flavor Paper', is available on their website, along with some cool pics of Mike's gaff.
Oh yes - and look out for Biggie Smalls.