My child is a genius. I mean, only two years ago she could barely hold a banana and now here she is, aged three, creating the most amazing pictures. Obviously I have no idea what they are when she shows me, but ask her to explain each vivid swirl of colour and shape and you get some pretty interesting answers. Sure there are flowers and caterpillars and Mummy, but her oeuvre also includes paintings of Portugal, wishing wells, teeth falling out and an interesting series entitled “daddy with hair”. This shows just how good her imagination is. He hasn’t had any for about 10 years.
I love that moment when she tells me what she’s drawn and the bright splodges come into focus and I suddenly see what she’s trying to do and understand what’s happening inside her mind. I think I feel particularly comfortable with blobs and colour because without my contact lenses I can’t see a thing. Quite often the whole world is abstract art to me.
A lot of the clothes for summer are too busy, all flowers and spots and stripes – precise repetitious patterns that don’t let you zone out. But look for it and there is abstract swirly stuff out there, too. Kenzo did abstract print in pretty blues and pinks; Chanel’s looked like angry flowers. Marni’s and Burberry’s are brightly coloured and appear to be collages cut out from magazines. All of them were very beautiful.
If you’re looking for high-street abstracts then Cos and Other Stories are your best bets. Both are owned by the HM Group and both create clothes that have that Scandi design feel to them – clean without being minimalist, unafraid of difficult shapes and bright colours. The other place to try is John Lewis. Yeah, I know, not very Scandi but its lifestyle brand Kïn does have an umlaut, which is pretty cosmopolitan for John Lewis. Kïn also does really nice clothes. Good design and, yes, interesting abstract patterns. The kids’ clothes are great, too, in case you’re interested.
If you’ve got more money to chuck about then look at independent label Palmer Harding. This design duo – Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding – is known for creating perfect shirts, and their ability to cut and drape is a thing of beauty. Although many of their designs feel like smart reinterpretations of classic tailoring, and in particular the quintessential white shirt, their eye for colour and pattern is also sharp. This skirt from the current range is beautifully fitted, but it’s the way the two layers move, creating an ever-changing pattern, that really makes it special.
Obviously I don’t have to tell you not to wear more than one abstract-patterned item of clothing at once. You’ll look really weird. I personally think that loose-cut or square-cut pieces of clothing are more forgiving to your figure than bodycon designs if you’re going for a busy print – but then I think that about pretty much everything. So feel free to ignore me. These patterns are all about mood and feeling, so just do what pleases you most.
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