Paisley Party

A demure take on paisley at Jil Sander Spring/Summer 12

Much prettier than its official, encyclopaedic description of ‘a droplet shaped, vegetable motif’ would suggest, paisley is set to become one of Spring/Summer 12’s most desirable prints, which is saying something considering this season’s catwalks basically look like the pattern-apocalypse.

Paisley is of Indian and Persian origin, hence the rich, exotic colour palette usually used, and also one of the main reasons it was launched into popular fashion culture in the late Sixties (and didn’t remain the sort of thing you’d only see on Poirot’s pyjamas). The Summer of Love in 1967, and The Beatles’ pilgrimage to India in 1968 spawned an enduring trend for all things Eastern inspired, and paisley fitted the bill beautifully - it soon became seen frequently on hot young things like Marianne Faithfull and David Bowie.

Marianne Faithfull and David Bowie both sporting paisley in the late Sixties

It’s that kind of psychedelic, beautiful-hippy aesthetic that has been picked up on by the likes of Emilo Pucci (a label that's used the print copiously and enthusiastically over the years) and Haider Ackermann this season. The former sent out bright, billowing jumpsuits straight out of a glamorous Bollywood movie, and the latter explored the darker side of paisley with deep luxurious colours and flowing, dressing-gown like jackets.

Emilio Pucci Spring/Summer 12

But it’s at the likes of Jil Sander, Paul and Joe, Stella McCartney and J.W. Anderson, where traditionally bohemian paisley found itself juxtaposed with smart, tailored cuts and silhouettes that the trend is at its most directional and striking. At Sander, Raf Simons picked out the most crisp and salient colours for the pattern and applied them to chic shift dresses and demure skirts. Young British designer Anderson went for a remarkably similar approach with his green, slightly skewed take on the print applied to simple tank tops and loose trousers that were both practical and fashion forward.

J.W. Anderson and Yves Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 12

Anyone caught umming and aaahhing between the two directions can also find a happy medium at Yves Saint Laurent, where, in one of his last collections for the French house, Stefano Pilati teamed dark, earth rippling paisley maxi skirts with neat, sedate separates like a white cotton shirt. So 2012 can be the Summer of Love whatever the formality of the occasion!

by Hollie Moat

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