Fashion's 'pop' comes from prints

By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL AP Fashion Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) With springs color palette focused on neutrals, whats a stylish gal to do if she wants to make a bold fashion statement? She picks a print.

In fact, shell show shes really on the ball if its a white-ground print hitting two trends with one top or bottom, or dress.

British designer Luella Bartley, who also is Targets guest international designer this season, is known for bold prints and patterns. The Target collection features garments decorated with cherries, cowboy boots, graffiti and plaids, while Bartleys upcoming signature fall collection uses lots of schoolgirl plaids.

I like things to be quite poppy, quite graphic its quite a London sensibility. Im not looking for pretty or nice, Bartley says. Stripes are always a huge thing for me. Im obsessed with stripes. I like a graphic flower print, not a delicate Liberty (of London) print, and I like uniform prints.

Bartley shies away from intricate artwork and cutesy things, she says, but fruit prints look crisp, too.

A cherry is very iconic. I like to play those sorts of images. I take something sickeningly sweet and use it in a subversive way. With cherries the way to do it is to make it graphic. Its sweet, cute, but hopefully with a little bit of teen angst, she says.

As a woman in her 30s, Bartley says shed wear the cherry print with a tailored pantsuit. I like that bold pop but without being too in your face.

Bartley and her team design all the prints themselves, and theyre typically the first step in building a new collection. The inspiration for one could come from something on the street to a piece of art.

Usually when Im thinking about the story behind the girl of the collection, Im thinking about the things she loves and then the prints just sort of come, Bartley says during a phone interview.

James Ferragamo, director of womens leather goods at Salvatore Ferragamo (and grandson of the famous designer), had the luxury of looking at the companys rich print archives to create the Fiera handbag collection.

Prints have been a Ferragamo signature since the late 1970s, when we first introduced our now-famous silk scarves, he says. He used 13 different prints all representative of brand signatures to create a patchwork effect of color, animal motifs, florals and geometric shapes.

The effect is very fresh, young and playful, and a great way to liven up your spring wardrobe, he says. Not everyone would be comfortable wearing lots of bold prints, but these Ferragamo printed handbags are the perfect way to add a splash of color and interest to your outfit without feeling overwhelmed.

At Boden, another British-based brand with a penchant for prints, womenswear designer Tara Ryan says big, bold Hawaiian flowers are used for a loose silhouette like a caftan, while smaller prints dots and gingham check, for example work better on more fitted garments.

Smaller size prints always seem to be a winner; theyre easier to dip your toe into. Printed cotton shirts sell so well every season, says Ryan. Theyre not anonymous but theyre something more neutral, and anything with a white ground is fresh and lends itself to spring and summer. In autumn, people play it safer with prints and focus on tonality.

Shoppers get excited when they see cheery floral dresses in stores in early spring and snap up dresses that they probably cant wear until June, Ryan says. Prints can be a positive, optimistic statement.

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