Designers making their marque on the fashion scene

Although its not quite a return to the logo-laden days of old, stylised prints and artistic emblems are now selling like hot cakes, says Naomi Attwood

Are you a fashionable person?

Can you tell Chloé from Céline? Would you recognise if a handbag was from Mulberry, Miu Miu or Marc Jacobs if you spotted it on the train? What about a print? If you saw a woman walk into a restaurant wearing a Frankenstein T-shirt, would you be able to identify the designer’s signature? What about a sweater bearing a fang-baring Rottweiler?

Taken literally, a “designer label” is just that. A logo, monogram or motif that is the marque of the fashion house in question. But it is so much more to those who care, it is a symbol that the wearer is au fait with the world of fashion.

While in the past designers have taken logo-laden wares to extremes, in these days of graphic-led design, words and letters are no longer the only way to broadcast a garment’s provenance. A digital photographic print, an illustration or even an abstract pattern can be easily identified as belonging to a particular designer in the days of catwalk streaming and style-obsessed blogger culture.

London designer Holly Fulton has built her name on the back of her distinctive print designs influenced by Art Deco’s swirly precision and Sixties modernism artfully interwoven with motifs such as red lipsticks and smoking guns. In recent collections Fulton has drawn all the patterns by hand, then manipulatedthem digitally to fit on to the garments, having expanded such images into 3D embellishment.

She explains why print became such an important theme – particularly in the collections of London-based designers: “I think it allows designers more scope to create  something unique with their  handwriting [on it].

“Many avenues have been exhausted in terms of cutting and it’s harder to innovate in that field, whereas  pattern lets you do something specific to forge and develop an individual  visual style and identity.”

Fulton adds that in terms of methods, “digital print is an ideal medium for the translation of this; it has opened up the scope and range of base and finishes available to designers and essentially changed the nature of the way print is used within fashion.”

In the fashion lexicon, digital print entails a photographic image – either realist or manipulated with software – transferred directly on to fabric. Often a garment is the canvas for one complete image writ large, rather than a smaller repeated pattern. Advances in technology enable  designers to push this “visual  handwriting” and capitalise on it.

Fans of Christopher Kane, for example, if they can’t afford £2,000 for a dress from his collection, could perhaps save up the £200 it would cost to get one of the Boris Karloff Frankenstein T-shirts, which in fact encapsulate the theme of his spring/summer collection. Or perhaps next season a luxurious black hooded jumper printed with roses will be theirs for a steep, but not unattainable, £300.

Increasingly commonly, pictures and patterns have become the “branding” of choice for fashion designers, to the point where even the revered design houses of Givenchy and Balenciaga are at it. Jessica Bumpus, of Vogue.co.uk, traces the current trend for printed sweatshirts back to one signature print in particular: “The Balenciaga sci-fi jumpers [from   autumn/winter 2012]  which – with Kenzo – kicked off the sweatshirt craze. Now all high-end labels are doing sweatshirts, I think this in itself has almost become its own logo in some respects. A few seasons ago, we were starting to see sweatshirts slip in and now everyone is doing them. I think it is a nostalgic thing and right now we’re stuck somewhere between the Nineties and Millennium in our fashion referencing – and there’s something oddly appealing and strangely novel about the logo once more.”

Ah yes. The Kenzo tiger. That game changer. It was that unreconstructed, embroidered, roaring big cat – with an even bigger KENZO logo emblazoned across it, that heralded the  return of the “designer logo”. It sold out in record time and was snapped by street-style photographers adorning the chests of anyone who is anyone in fashion, from bloggers to editors to  off-duty models.

Entire blog posts were even devoted to the best methods of tracking one down. It’s back for the autumn/winter season in more colours and even in a hooded version.

Interestingly, in parallel to these artistic interpretations of high fashion logos and emblems, premium streetwear – in the guise of designs by Brian Lichtenberg and Boy London  – logos have never been bigger, both literally and metaphorically. Where the kids on the street lead, high fashion often follows as the trickle down or  bubble up theory of trends has it.

When asked if she would ever take the plunge and put out fully logoed products, Holly Fulton enthused: “I love branding and the power of a distinctive identity. I personally love Moschino from the Eighties and Nineties – it works its logo and signature into everything.

“The crass and blatant nature of having a huge logo on something really appeals to me. It has that sense of tongue-in-cheek humour that I love and I am a firm believer that you need a bit of fun in fashion.”

And you can’t argue with that.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015