“Gingham” — bringing to mind old-world charms, feminine naivety, and cheery picnics in the sun.
Back when fashion designers first presented their Spring/Summer 2020 offerings last year — a time before the current “new normal”, when events and being outside were still our way of life — there’s no doubt that they looked forward to this season with lively gingham. Little did they know that the world would be experiencing exceptional times with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, this retro print — the kind that brings to mind sunsets and picnics outdoors — serves as a cheery reminder that all this will pass, and brighter days are just ahead.
Mention “gingham” and it immediately conjures up images of the naive girl-next-door in her school uniform, the sassy cowgirl in her Western shirt with the decorative yoke, the demure 50s housewife in her apron, sundress or capri pants, or even Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
These enduring associations make gingham a great material for subversion, as Rei Kawakubo referenced in her controversial Comme des Garcons Spring/Summer 1997 Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body collection.
Widely known as the the “lumps and bumps” collection, the Japanese maverick challenged conventional ideals of feminine beauty with deformed silhouettes constructed from tubular dresses stuffed with bulbous padding that protrudes out of form. These avant-garde pieces are further dressed in gingham, commissioned from the Orimono Kenkyu Sha Fabric Company, whose domesticity and a sense of infantilised femininity allude to society’s ideals of women’s roles.
Even though this enduring print often feels more nostalgic than new, here are four fresh updates designers have spun for this season, and how you can work gingham into your wardrobe.
Soften a smart suit
Think of gingham as this season’s preppy answer to the more businesslike houndstooth.
Pair it with playful proportions
The Miu Miu librarian exudes kooky charm with an oversized blazer over calf-grazing cuffed pants.
Elevate gingham’s street cred
Sweet can be street too, as Riccardo Tisci demonstrates in this Burberry ensemble, plus a dash of athleisure vibes.
Take nostalgia to new heights
If you still can’t shake off gingham’s old world charm, then let’s take it up a notch. Fendi proposes 1960s pool-side glamour with sequin-drenched sheer gingham.
This story first appeared on Prestige Online Singapore