Maximalism

Minimalism dominated the runways in 2015 but the new year marks a revival of bold eccentricity and clashing prints. I have always been intrigued by the maximalist trend. More than anything, it makes me wonder what exactly makes something aesthetically pleasing because clashing ensembles shouldn’t work but somehow they just do. Well, if you know what you’re doing, that is. It’s not simply a case of rifling through your wardrobe and picking out the first two items you see as this could have disastrous consequences. Case in point: I just tried this and ended up selecting a very colourful John Galliano graphic tee along with a long vintage floral skirt that I picked up from Camden market for about a tenner. Take it from me: it was a combination that would offend even John McCririck’s eyes. 

So how do you gauge the precarious line between putting together an outfit for a street-style blog and generally looking like you’ve got dressed in the dark. In a charity shop. Whilst drunk. It’s a tough one and very easy to get wrong as there’s pretty much no middle ground between ‘striking and individual’ and ‘migraine-inducing’. To be honest, I don’t think there is a hard and fast formula to clashing prints effectively. Maximalism pretty much defies all the ‘rules’ of fashion so it’s best not to overthink it. If it feels a bit wrong, then it’s probably right. Ultimately, you have to enjoy and understand colour and not be afraid to *~eXprEsS yOuRseLf~*. Before trying the trend myself, I reacquainted myself with my favourite examples of maximalism…

Stylist: Andrew Holden for Grazia

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Andrew Holden for Grazia Spring/Summer 2012

These beautiful ensembles are a damn good example of how to clash prints well. Although there’s a melange of different patterns going on here and it doesn’t ‘match’ in the conventional sense, there’s still a definite sense of  harmony and coherency. For the outfit on the left, the hints of cobalt in the skirt have been picked up by the blouse. The outfit on the right is all about geometric prints; large patterns on the blouse filtering down to smaller, more intricate patterns on the skirt. The floral clutch adds a whole new dimension to both outfits, making them both so visually interesting. It’s like looking at an abstract painting; although on first glance it looks easy to accomplish, the more you look at it the more you realize how much deliberation has gone into creating something so vivid and captivating. It requires such a refined understanding of colour and shape and the ability to apply this knowledge to garments which is another kettle of fish altogether. The cut and tailoring of the garments have to harmonize with such lively colours and patterns whilst complimenting the figure. 

Designer: Louise Gray 

louise gray 2

Who needs LSD when Louise Gray designs exist in the world, eh? I first came across Gray at the 2012 Vogue Festival and since then she has exploded onto the fashion scene with her outlandish, mismatched creations. What I love about Gray’s designs is that they’re indicative of someone who likes to have fun with fashion. And I’m all for that. Her garments encapsulate the raw energy and cultural hodgepodge of London, accentuated by her patchwork approach. To some, her ensembles may look haphazard but Gray isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of convention and that’s where her success lies. She clearly has an acute understanding of colour and pattern and she ain’t afraid to show it. I defy any steely ‘front row’ attendees to witness a Louise Gray runway and not crack a smile. 
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Designer: Jonathan Saunders 
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Jonathan Saunders A/W 2011
Famed for his bold, silk-screened prints and exquisite palette of colours, Saunders makes trendy clashing look effortless. His raucous designs are complimented beautifully by modern, architectural tailoring and Saunders clearly puts a lot of thought into effective mismatching. Take the third ensemble on the top row, for instance. It is comprised of colours that the fashion faint-hearted wouldn’t touch with a bargepole, but Saunders achieves coherency by using a transitional pattern. The whole thing could easily look horribly discordant and monolithic, but Saunders avoids this by adding a slit to the skirt and a black, cinched waistline to create a firm division between the colours, a la Mondrian. The man just gets it. 
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Designer: Tom Ford
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Tom Ford A/W 2013. Image courtesy of vogue.co.uk
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Tom Ford A/W 2013. Image courtesy of vogue.co.uk
Ford’s Fall 2013 collection was undoubtedly garish. And weirdly, that’s why I liked it. My first impression of the collection was ‘I…I don’t really know what to make of it. Is it ugly? Is it a stroke of genius? Either way, I’m intrigued and I can’t stop looking at it.’ The collection epitomizes Ford’s uncompromising vision and love for excess and gloss. It’s a given that his designs won’t be to everyone’s everyone’s tastes, but Ford ain’t a man for budging. ‘It’s his vision or it’s his vision’ as Vogue put it. A plethora of cultural influences and patterns, this collection truly highlights Tom Ford’s unrestrained creative prowess. 
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So, there you have it. Maximalism done right. ‘But how can you pull it off in everyday life!’ I hear you cry  (or ‘none of this crap is fashionable, it’s all hideous!’ depending on your personal taste. Everything is up for interpretation here at peacockmoon dot com). Granted, none of the above ensembles are your standard ‘popping out to town for a bit’ outfits, but it is possible to create a more toned down look based on the runway examples. A top tip for experimenting with clashing patterns is to take a look at the colour wheel. If you pair complementary (opposites on the wheel) colours together, that gives a clue as to how some of these clashes work. Another thing I’d recommend is to wear something monochrome, like zebra print or polka-dots because black and white are shades that will compliment ANY bright colour. 
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 maxi final
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1) Polka dot print shirt – Saint Laurent
2) ‘Bella’ statement beaded necklace – Boohoo.com
3) Floppy brim fedora hat – Rag and Bone
4) Embroidered ‘Becca’ Skirt – Stella McCartney
5) Zebra print pumps – Giuseppe Zanotti 
6) Acetate cat eye sunglasses – Miu Miu
7) Lightning bolt earrings – LYNNBAN.com
8) Yellow patterned tights – Look from London
9) Jeweled cuff – Stella McCartney
10) Handbag – Marc Jacobs 
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From what I can tell from looking at designers as well as attempting the trend myself, effective clashing can be achieved by 1) using monochrome items as a starting point 2) ensuring that the garments harmonize in terms of shape and cut to avoid too much confusion and 3) creating a very subtle linking point somewhere, be it via a particular shade or pattern. But as I’ve mentioned, there are no established rules so you’re best just experimenting with colour and pattern until you create something that, for some reason or another, just works which is precisely what I’m going to do. So if the next time you see me I look like coco the clown, you’ll know why.
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Josephine x

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