THE WORD GINGHAM ENTERED THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY; ORIGINALLY IT WAS A STRIPED FABRIC IMPORTED FROM INDIA
For SS/16 brands like Victoria Beckham, Miu Miu and Stella McCartney, “prescribe” plaid prints, reinventing one of fashion favorite patterns in simple and casual silhouette.
The Manchester factories began to produce the checked fabric in the mid-eighteenth century, inexpensive, used mostly in the production of domestic items such as tablecloths, dishcloths, or curtains, but also for toiles – test version of a finished garment made in a cheap fabric.
The history of gingham is vast, but we can identify the turning points of this material with the Second World War, the Sixties’ movement “Youthquake” and Comme des Garçons’ ”body morphing” of the nineties.
Adrian, the designer best known for Dorothy’s costume for the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”, was the in-house costume designer at movie studio MGM from 1928 until 1941, designing clothes for stars like Jean Harlow, Norma Scherer, Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo. He also revisited this fabric for a Vogue US photoshot with John Rawlings in 1944. Adrian gave a new life to gingham with a famous Vogue US photo shoot in 1944, highlighting the potential and versatility of this fabric, easily available and affordable during the war.
In 1964 the Daily Mirror fashion editor, Felicity Green, was doing a feature on young career women and wanted to include Barbara Hulanicki, best known for her postal boutique called “Biba”. Miss Green impose a single clause to the article: that the dress made could be sold for 25 shillings. The resulting image shows a (pink) gingham sleeveless dress. In the following days the Biba boutique received seventeen thousand orders for this dress. At the time when there was no clothing specifically designed for the young, it captured a zeitgeist.
“It’s our job to question convention. If we don’t take risks, then who will?” Said Rei Kawakubo back in 1997, after the runaway debut of the brand Comme des Garçons. The collection was entitled “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body”- an analysis and an exploration into the ways in which clothing can transform the body.
Her looks are not made from a traditional gingham fabric: the check is a surface detail, but we are now accustomed to associate the word with the pattern rather than the material. This is somewhat absurd, considering that the word originally meant for a striped canvas and not checked!