trends & subculturesWednesday, March 15, 2017

Exploring tribal clothing


Tribal fashion has been a runway staple for some time now, but not just because of the rise of “festival” fashion.

What is referred to as tribal fashion encompasses a number of different cultural influences, from Navajo prints and the tribal headdress to fringe embellishments. This dynamic style allows designers and wearers alike to explore new and exotic places through a shared love of fashion.

Important prints


Prints inspired by tribal traditions are often seen on the runway, and Valentino is no exception. The fashion house’s Spring 2014 show opened with a richly embroidered mini dress and coat adorned in designs reminiscent of Aztec prints, and the theme continued throughout the show on everything from gowns to jumpsuits. Other familiar design elements used by Valentino such as diamonds, crosses and bands can be traced back to the Navajo people and their Ganado-patterned woven textiles.


McQ Alexander McQueen has also incorporated foiled tribal markings into streetwear designs, adorning black, white and red T-shirts and tank dresses with the bold pattern.


Head to toe


Many designers have taken cues from eye-catching headwear pieces like royal crowns and tribal headdresses for their accessories. Spring 2016 runways saw the return of fascinator-inspired accessories, with Louis Vuitton models donning sleek headbands fit for a space princess while Dolce & Gabbana models wore fruit-laden bands and matching whimsical prints.


At Givenchy’s Spring 2016 show, tribal-inspired accessories weren’t limited to headpieces. The label took the choker trend to a new level, layering different textures in pieces that covered a model’s entire neck. Meanwhile, Valentino debuted sculptural, bone-shaped jewelry in delicate styles as well as large and layered pieces.


Monochromatic influence


The resurgence of tribal fashion on 2016 runways was reinvigorated with a new color palette: black and white. Burberry Prorsum showed a fitted trench coat in a monochromatic tribal design for its Resort 2016 collection. Junya Watanabe’s Spring 2016 collection, which debuted at the National Museum of Immigration History in Paris, featured both monochromatic and colorful prints, loose, silky tunics and oversized accessories. Valentino, back again with tribal influence, married bold prints with mesh to create a new take on the naked dress trend.




Like Valentino, Missoni has a long history of tribal influence. The Italian label’s iconic rainbow-colored zig-zag print, which looks like it could be something akin to a Navajo or Aztec print, is a mainstay among Missoni’s dedicated fashion tribe. The Missoni Spring 2016 ready-to-wear show featured a number of dresses and tops with yoke-style collars and thick choker necklaces in printed designs complemented by brightly-colored eyeshadow. And when the fashion house opts for lighter fabrics and colors, the result can seem almost Southwestern, as demonstrated in the 2016 Resort collection.


Fringe benefits


Fringe was a popular embellishment in tribal clothing long before Europeans started incorporating it into their wardrobes, and it’s a look that constantly reappears on runways. Balmain is a fringe repeat offender, most recently embellishing cocktail dresses and gowns with monochrome tassels for the Fall 2016 show - the one where Olivier Rousteing famously had Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner swap hair colors. Valentino didn’t just use fringe as a decoration, but as a material itself, with leather skirts for Spring made from fabric split into sections like oversized fringe.


For those looking for more subtle fringed accents, Saint Laurent has introduced backpacks and handbags with fringe, along with the occasional leather jacket. Shoe designers Stuart Weitzman and Giuseppe Zanotti have also brought the trend to footwear.




Another facet of tribal clothing often associated with fringe is heavy beading. Fans of this kind of detail can look to jewelry by Night Market to find beaded necklaces for dramatic statement pieces. Designer Matthew Williamson has long drawn influence from tribal prints, and accessories from his 2016 collection feature thousands of tiny beads in bold, colorful patterns.


In the ever-changing and evolving world of fashion and design, it’s heartening to see designers explore the roots of other cultures to find inspiration from a new perspective. And as our society becomes more and more global, it seems fitting that different customs are beginning to seep into the public consciousness and manifest themselves in creative work.

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