Ready to Wear: Houndstooth is fierce, and signifies power over and above prettiness

Houndstooth check is very fashionable just now and if ever there was a signifier of fashion aimed squarely at those with womanly – as opposed to girlish – tastes, then this must surely be it.

At Alexander McQueen the glory days of haute couture (that's the 1940s-1960s) were given the most almighty twist, resulting in ever more complex and unorthodox takes on bourgeois French fashion.

This was subversion as opposed to simply homage – although the latter was there in spirit too, expressed in the loving attention to pattern-cutting and detail that, for the most part, is rarely the stuff of ready-to-wear fashion (a poor relation by comparison). The designer even morphed the classic houndstooth into an MC Escher bird print. Marvellous.

Peter Jensen offered up an equally scaled-up view, most memorably in cape form and more sporty in flavour. Preen, too, looked at the famous tweed, this time in simpler, short, sweet Sixties-style shifts and strong-shouldered jackets that were indebted to the 1980s. Finally, houndstooth New Look-line dresses appeared at Moschino also. Cue hounds-tooth skirts, bags, ankle boots and more, at a high street store near you.

Sometimes houndstooth is called dogtooth and, when it's smaller, which it's certainly not for now, puppytooth. Scottish in origin, it is named after the jagged effect that might arise from the bite of a not-so-friendly canine. The French have different ideas. The Gallic translation of houndstooth is pied-de-poule – 'chicken foot'. That sounds nice in the original tongue but is rather less aggressive.

For the most part, the effect of a woman in houndstooth – it was originally the preserve of menswear – and particularly head-to-toe houndstooth, is a fierce one, signifying power over and above prettiness, which is relevant given the thrusting looks of the moment.

In the 1960s, Geoffrey Beane trimmed houndstooth dresses with lace and New York's social butterflies couldn't get enough of them. In the 1980s, houndstooth cropped up here, there and everywhere, for wear in the (matt black) boardroom ideally. In autumn 2003, the Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto came up with an entire collection in houndstooth check – from signature over-sized coats with equally over-sized fringed edges, to chiffon ball-gowns.

More than any other fashion designer, the late Christian Dior made houndstooth his own. Grand ladies in exquisitely tailored houndstooth check may have had husbands who bought them their rarefied Dior clothing, but it is only too clear who was wearing the trousers. Dior liked houndstooth so much that the bottle of his first-ever – and still very popular – fragrance, Miss Dior, was embossed with it. It's one of the original chypres, incidentally; largely perceived as quite difficult scents and certainly not recommended for shrinking violets.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
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

    Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

    £300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

    High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

    £70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

    Teaching Assistant

    £50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

    Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments