Sarai and The Allure of Novelty Prints - Guest Post!


This post is brought to you by the one and only Sarai from Colette Patterns! I cannot thank Sarai enough to take time out of her busy schedule to talk to all of you! Okay Sarai, take it away...
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I've long been a lover of vintage novelty prints, in spite of myself.

I say "in spite of myself" because normally when it comes to clothing, I have a bit of an aversion to all things juvenile. I can do a little girlish. I can do a teeny bit kitsch. But when designs cross that fine line and become childish, it's just ...not my thing.

Nowadays, when you hear the word "novelty print," juvenile prints on quilting cotton are probably the first thing that come to mind. They often feature bright, garish colors or babyish pastels and depict juvenile themes.

In a way, this is fitting. The earliest novelty prints (also sometimes called "conversation prints") from the 1900s were designed specifically to appeal to children. They often depicted stories and rhymes, animals, and children. There's been a long history of using these prints to appeal to kids.

But as the years progressed, novelty prints began finding their way into adult women's clothing too. These adult prints carried some of the whimsy and humor of kids' prints, but with more interesting and varied themes and a wider array of illustration styles. Novelty prints began to reflect the context of the era: patriotic themes in the 1940s, images of Paris in the 1950s, space age patterns in the 1960s.







Perhaps no one captured the artistry and humor of the conversation print better than designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Known for her fusing of art and fashion, Schiaparelli's prints featured everything from circus themes to a fabric designed entirely from a collage of her own press clippings.




Today, the novelty print lives on in fashion. You may recall the popular cat print from Miuccia Prada's Miu Miu line. It's interesting to note that Prada is a designer whose work has recently been compared and contrasted with Schiaparelli.



I wonder what prints like this will say about the era we live in now? Will fashion historians look back at Miu Miu and fondly remember the era of internet cat memes?

Links:

Vintage novelty print group on Flickr
A history of conversation prints

Click on each image to do directly to the source.



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Thanks again Sarai! I am so honored that you wrote a guest post for my blog! I am toasting you right now from Paris. Cheers Sarai!