Sunday, 28 February 2010

MAW at London Fashion Week: Digital Printing goes 3D

Above: Chunky jewels take over on the Osman catwalk

This season will be looked back upon as he season that the huge digital printing finally matured. With so many British designers having made their name in this genre over recent seasons, there was a definite of sense of needing to move it up a gear in order to keep up a designer level and ahead of the high street. The solution was many of them picking up the needle and thread and adding embroidery and stitched and glued jewels onto their cocktail dresses. I lost count of how many of the highly influential young British designer pack including Christopher Kane and Erdem that added serious stitch work to their womenswear with lots of embroidery and in the case of Mary Katrantzou with quilting.

Above: Katrantzou's jeweled designs

Elsewhere, the Svarovskification of recent collections seemed to be giving way to an influx of bigger jewels in perspex and cut glass. I've been blogging jewellery specialist Holly Fulton's talent for this for a couple of seasons now but she was joined this time by the likes of Felder + Felder, Issa and Osman, both of whom plastered them all over their footwear.

Above: Holly Fulton shows her jewelry design pedigree with the embellishments on her symmetrical designs

Below: Mary Katrantzou's quilting

Since both of the developments of the printing trend – into embroidery and jewel embellishments - are about adding real texture to the surface, I suppose it's not surprising that the majority of designers in this camp are now opting for trompe l'oile designs for the clothes. Their moving away from the abstract florals and techno prints towards realistic photos of flowers and jewels on the items which work with the embroidery and embellishment.

If anyone could get away with sticking to digital printing without the need for more texture it would be Basso and Brooke, who made their name with so the groundbreaking way their pleated digital print designs fit together like puzzles when cut into dresses. But even on their runway their was the addition of a new layer of texture through their use of crafty patchwork inspired patterns.

The common theme between these three developments in digital printing is an increase in interest in traditional craft aesthetics. This can be traced back to the craze for all things crafty last year as part of the wider make-do-and-mend mania that seemed to sweep the UK. With these designers, many of whom have made their names in the high-tech world of digital prints, now taking on craft looks, you get an idea of how far-reaching this trend has become. Over recent months I've done a few interviews and written articles for trade magazine Craft Business on this very subject.

Above and below: Peter Pilotto's layered tube prints

But it also points to an increase of interest in 3 dimensionality amongst the digital printing clan. Whereas this Spring/Summer designers were happy with basing entire collections on extravagant flat prints based around one theme, now there's a definite sense of needing to offer more texture. Away from the craft aesthetic, Peter Pilotto added another dimension in his own creative way by rolling two pieces from tubes of fabric.

On the slate...colour report from London Fashion Week