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Pick the Pattern – Pick the Product

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

A "Brief" Look at the History of Some Favorite Patterns



As part of our introduction to our new “pick the pattern—pick the product” concept, we want to share some history behind some of our favorite pattern styles. (Thank you to artTECA for the inspirational article! ) We hope that you will become enamored with not only the patterns but also the inspiration behind them.


The history of fabric patterns is a rich tapestry woven through centuries of human creativity and cultural influences. Each pattern carries a unique story and has become a timeless representation of artistic expression and fashion trends.


Throughout history, fabric patterns have reflected fashion trends and carried cultural, social, and political significance. Today, they continue to captivate our imagination and remain integral to the ever-evolving world of fashion and design.


In part one, Heather Wasaff’s Paradise looks at some of the very interesting history behind some of the classic patterns that have inspired some of my unique patterns.


Houndstooth

Houndstooth, a timeless pattern originating in the Scottish Lowlands, features broken checks or abstract four-pointed shapes that surged in popularity during the 1800s, becoming a staple in men's and women's fashion. Its unique checked appearance, inspired by the uneven shape of a hound dog's teeth, extends beyond simple squares, offering versatility that appeals to fashion enthusiasts.


Initially, houndstooth check was a two-toned textile pattern, skillfully crafted with white sheep wool for the lighter checks and darker wool for contrasting black ones. These materials were often obtained from naturally tinted wool or black sheep.


Over time, houndstooth transcended its utilitarian roots to become a symbol of high society, much like stripes were adopted from sailors. The pattern gained favor among the upper class, offering them a way to refresh their style. By the 1930s, it was embraced by the wealthy, and in the 1950s, Christian Dior made it even more popular under the name "pied-de-poule." Dior's deep appreciation for its symbolism led him to package his first fragrance, Miss Dior, in the iconic bicolor pattern, emphasizing the concept of duality.

Today, houndstooth remains celebrated for its timeless black-and-white appeal, combining modern and classic elements seamlessly. This chic pattern is currently experiencing a trendy resurgence, captivating fashion enthusiasts worldwide.


Polka Dots

Polka dots, with their playful and whimsical appearance, have an interesting past. They emerged in the mid-19th century in Europe and were initially associated with dance music. The term "polka" referred to a popular dance style, and the dots embodied the lively spirit of the dance. Since then, polka dots have transcended generations, becoming a symbol of retro fashion and modern elegance.


The history of polka dots spans hundreds of years, countries, and cultures:

  • In 1857, Godey's Lady's Book introduced the term "polka dot" about a muslin scarf with embroidered round dots.

  • The pattern resurged in 1926 when Miss America, Norma Smallwood, donned a polka dot swimsuit, and later in 1928, Minnie Mouse flaunted a red polka dot dress.

  • By the 1930s, polka dots became a fashion revolution, featuring dresses adorned with ribbons and bows.

  • In 1940, Frank Sinatra's ballad "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" further popularized the pattern, sparking America's polka dot mania.

  • Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama embraced polka dots in 1963, incorporating them into her art, where she saw them as messengers of life and the universe, creating her famous "infinity nets."

Tartan/Plaid

Tartan, also known as plaid, holds a profound cultural significance, particularly in Scotland, where it is revered as a national icon and serves as one of the world's most recognizable symbols of identity.


The earliest recorded reference to Tartan can be traced back to 1538 when King James V purchased "three ells of Heland Tartans" for his wife. Another pivotal moment in Tartan's history was during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, where Clan regiments proudly donned tartan uniforms, culminating in the historic Battle of Culloden in 1746. The pattern's popularity continued to soar, partly due to Queen Victoria's romantic fascination with all things Scottish.


As time progressed, the evolution of tartan patterns was influenced by the introduction of chemical dyes, which brought forth vibrant hues and gave rise to what we now call 'modern' tartan colors. In contrast, the traditional vegetable dyes earned the name 'Ancient' tartan colors.


Each unique tartan pattern represents a specific Scottish clan, signifying familial and regional affiliations. However, the significance of tartan extended far beyond Scotland's borders, eventually becoming a global fashion trend that graced runways and found its place in everyday attire.


In this way, tartan's rich history, deeply rooted in Scotland's heritage, transformed into a timeless symbol of identity and fashion that continues to captivate hearts worldwide.


Coming Next:

Part Two will cover the fascinating backgrounds of the ever-popular Fleur de Lis and stripes, plus an intro to our take on the evolution of luxury fabrics.


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