Friday 31 October 2014

Darren Kennedy's Style Files: How to wear cartoon prints

Darren Kennedy

Published 19/07/2014 | 02:30

A model presents a creation for fashion house Moschino as part of the Milan's Women's fashion week Autumn/Winter 2014 collections
A model presents a creation for fashion house Moschino as part of the Milan's Women's fashion week Autumn/Winter 2014 collections
Illustration by Moona AlQahtani inspired by Moschino AW/14
Topshop's paprika Maxi dress

Who'd have thought cartoon characters and comic strip motifs would be having a fashion moment?

Well, they most certainly are and much of it is down to the connoisseur of pop culture Jeremy Scott who kick started the craze when he presented his Bart-head printed collection (which became a favourite of Cara Delevingne) in 2013.

That same year Tom Ford got in on the action with designs featuring an explosion of comic strip style graphics and geometric speech bubbles in a palette of primary colours, as if lifted straight from a favourite childhood comic. Since then, the fashion currency of cartoon prints has increased dramatically. Moschino's Spring/Summer 2014 collection shouts out loudly with explosive prints and classic comic book sound effects such as 'Kaboom', 'Bang' and 'Pow!' emblazoned on everything from sweaters to trainers. Perhaps no surprise that the story continues at Moschino for AW14 where Jeremy Scott has taken up tenure as creative director. Scott's debut collection is a mash up of references from SpongeBob to Ronald McDonald.

The cartoon print trend can be worn in endless ways, either toned down or go all out with clashing character prints and Sixties pop culture references.

Reader Question: I am going to a black-tie wedding in August. Is it necessary to wear a full-length gown or could I get away with wearing something else? I am 5ft 10 and a size 16.

Liz, via email

Darren:  Black tie can be tricky to dress for, especially when it's a wedding. Personally, I think there are so few occasions these days that call for full-length that it's the perfect excuse to embrace a floor-sweeping style. At this time of year, you'll find no shortage of maxi dresses that will fit the bill.

Given it's a summer outing, feel free to go for it in terms of colour – it'd be a shame not to. Orange is the colour of the season and Topshop have nailed it with their 1) paprika maxi. This lightweight woven dress features a frill detail to the front that continues into a stunning cape to the back (€72.50, Topshop.com). Keep it understated and accessorise with a low heel and a simple gold chain necklace.

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Also at Topshop is an 2) emerald green lace maxi with interesting panel detail (€145). Team this sleeveless style with an off-white slim lapel blazer for a cocktail look that's chic but not over the top.

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Another option is the 3) wild flower maxi by London-based brand Needle & Thread. This beautifully hand-embellished design is made from a sheer mesh fabric with neon sequin florals over an opaque slip underlay. The overall effect is a glamorous, vintage-inspired look (€440, BT2).

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Similarly, the 4) black woven dress by RJR, John Rocha (€125, Debenhams) features a mini floral design with scattered jewel embellishment and a demure boat neckline. This dress makes a statement, so keep any accessories to an absolute minimum.

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