Every print has a story to tell. Perhaps it was inspired by the natural world, or by a strange fantasy land, by comic books or by icons of the big and small screen. It might have been created to make us remember, and smile, or maybe to tell us something, to make us stop and think.
Print is fashion’s most creative expression, a vehicle for exploration and response, affording art we can wear, whether for special occasions or within our daily work-to-weekend lives.
“Print is everywhere, and without it, the world would be a dull place,” says Abigail Baldwin of Yorkshire print designer Buttercrumble.
“It evokes a nostalgic feeling, as print is instilled in our everyday lives, from the wallpaper in your first home to the fabric covering on bus seats. It takes us back to these moments.”
Buttercrumble consists of twin sisters, Chloe and Abigail Baldwin, who became interested in print’s narrative power in their childhood. Now 22, they are originally from Scarborough, where they studied Fine Art and Graphic Communication at Scarborough Sixth Form College before making their way to the University of Leeds, where both gained a degree in Graphic & Communication Design. The university has also provided them with business support and education through its Spark scholarship award.
Buttercrumble’s distinctive style is influenced by mid-century design, folk art, Scandinavia, stories and everyday life.
“Our ethos is to make people smile through the use of fun and exciting visuals and, through doing this, it makes us smile too,” says Abigail.
“As twin sisters, we’ve been drawing on the same large sheet of paper ever since we could pick up a pencil. It made sense that we would study design together and work together.”
Buttercrumble’s new collection of printed silk scarves, called Wearable Histories, can be bought at the Leeds Craft Centre & Design Gallery and also at Sunny Bank Mills for £95.
“Each of the Wearable Histories scarves narrates the stories of vintage artefacts we’ve collected around Yorkshire,” says Chloe.
She and Abigail often visit vintage fairs around the county. The pocket mirror featured in the In a Day’s Work design came from the Scarborough Vintage Fair, and inspired thoughts of the Stepford Wives, exploring the stereotype of a suburban housewife during the 1950s. “When Chloe picked up the 1950s pocket mirror, she envisioned the glamorous housewife who once used the compact to powder her nose, between her busy day-to-day schedule,” says Abigail. “We believe that vintage clothing has the potential to express even richer narratives, due to the way they have been passed from wearer to wearer. This causes messages to be layered over time, which is why the collection is called Wearable Histories.”
Meanwhile, on the autumn/winter 2017/18 catwalks, it was unusual graphic print that provided some of the coming season’s most beautiful and intriguing spectacles. Mary Katrantzou is already feted for designs based around her unusual kaleidoscopic approach to pattern, but has really evoked the mood of new season print with a collection inspired by Disney’s whirling 1940 colour spectacular Fantasia.
And Vivienne Westwood played out her theme of naïve art and theatre with her Puppet print, which she developed using a collage of Paul Klee’s Dadaist hand puppets, interlacing her own face photographed by Juergen Teller. The result is eerily striking, instantly recognisable and thought-provoking, featuring all over on dresses and shirts and making us question what fashion and beauty is really all about.
Meanwhile, there are more fashion-in-art investment opportunities from Scottish artist Stuart McAlpine Miller, a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, who is artist-in-residence at The Savoy. .
Available at Atterley.com, the new McAlpine Miller Label Silks collection has gowns, dresses, camis, palazzo pants, tops and shorts featuring his designs which invoke and comment on consumer society, cartoons and superheroes to illustrate unrealistic idealism.
Counting Sir Paul McCartney among his many celebrity admirers, McAlpine Miller’s artworks command up to six figures, whereas garments from this first ready-to-wear fashion collection — with styles designed by his wife, Nikki McAlpine Miller – can be bought for as little as £145.
Buttercrumble is stocked at the Craft Centre & Design Gallery, Leeds (craftcentreleeds.co.uk) and Buttercrumble.com.
McAlpine Miller Label Silks is at Atterley.com.
Vivienne Westwood is at Leeds’s Victoria Quarter and VivienneWestwood.com
Mary Katrantzou is at Harvey Nichols in Leeds and MaryKatrantzou.com.