If we keep touting that old chestnut about fashion being cyclical and that nothing is completely original anymore then the fashions of what we conceive as the near-past will soon be catching up with us.  On this Easter Sunday when we're supposed to be chilling out, maxing and relaxing and munching on cheap chocolate Easter eggs, I present you with the hefty question of when it is ok to start recycling ideas and referencing collections?  I take Stella McCartney for Chloe's S/S 2001 collection as an example, one that got a surprisingly perfunctory review on Style.com (ah… the days before the awesomeness of Meenal Mistry and Tim Blanks…) but in my mind it left an indelible imprint, even though at the time I was more interested in learning Latin verbs then catching up with collections.  You could feel the impact on eBay when numerous fakes of the Chloe horse prints galloping across dresses and tops (taken from Stubbs and G√©ricault and paintings…) kept surfacing.  There's a definite recognisability to the collection that makes people want to imbue it with words such as 'classic' and 'iconic' and it's still one that I see garnering blog/Tumblr posts…

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One of the pieces from the collection has ended up at Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery with its ties to Liverpudlian artist George Stubbs as well as its retail origin from infamous store Cricket…

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It's a little frightening that a collection, that for me seems like something recalled from recent memory is actually a decade old which begs the question whether horses printed across jackets, skirts and tops as they seen in Milk from a Thistle's A/W 11 collection, form a well-timed revival?  Granted, the horses aren't being attacked nor are they angered with the same voracity as they are in McCartney's borrowed prints for Chloe.  Designer Danielle Atkinson from Sydney (yes, the countdown to my trip next week is enthusiastically starting…) behind the young label Milk from a Thistle specialises in prints through her background in textile design.  I personally welcome the prints, that only recall that Chloe collection in dribs and drabs, as Atkinson's choice of shapes (easy-going jackets, loose tops and skirts) are vastly different and as a plus point, the prices are also moderately more accessible.  The entirely different context and inception of this collection also dulls the comparison somewhat.  Plus, I'm impelled to love the name Milk from a Thistle as it's derived from a Joanna Newsom song. 

I suppose the acceptance of this motif rejuvenantion would also depend on whether the designer herself cites or openly references the origin.  It could also be entirely possible that McCartney's Stubbs repro prints passed her by.  We're getting into symmantics here but perhaps there is some sort of ten-year rule which makes referencing palatable and in some cases, more than welcome?   Should the number of years reduce, then it's a dangerous game of deja vu designers play with what is already a bevy of jaded industry insiders…

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Just to support the return, I dug up this photo remembering that Aussie swimwear label We Are Handsome also got stuck into some galloping horse action in their debut collection…

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Comments (25)

  1. SACRAMENTO says:

    I love animals in print, hate anima print. Perhaphs that is why they come back againa and again.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  2. I heart the pieces in Milk From A Thistle’s latest range. I totally missed any referencing [need to read more books/archived magazines]..bad blogger! I just like the horsey images because they remind me of pictures Mum and Dad used to have. I actually hate REAL horses- they smell funny and look scary. Plus, they have big bodies on little legs which looks like it TOTALLY should not be a functioning animal. ANYWAY….
    I also fully loved her Hardy silk dress with the crochet print. Good share- the people down under [including New Zealand which is NOT a state of Australia everyone!] need some good coverage and support.

  3. Sarah says:

    Gorgeous photos. I especially love the fourth dress down, it’s so pretty! :)
    http://dollydotgirl.blogspot.com

  4. ooooh love. now it just needs to be set with Patti Smith playing in the background.

  5. Dom says:

    Margiela did a horse print in 2008 and there have been vintage prints of horses for yonks so it is not really an issue of copyright, the idea existed before Chloe did it – it is just about reinterpretation and generally most designers put their own spin on things

  6. susie_bubble says:

    Dom: Ah yes‚Ķfor some reason I categorise that Margiela horse print along with those ‘howling at the moon wolf’ fantasy print t-shirts, a separate vein from these more ‘painterly’ and ‘classic’ representation of horses. Plus wasn’t there a copyright scandal over that print anyway clashing with a 1998 original David Penfound painting? Anyhow, that’s another matter altogether‚Ķ
    I wasn’t really talking about copyright as obviously Milk from a Thistle’s collection isn’t infringing upon any artwork exclusivity‚Ķbut I was merely talking about rejuvenation and recycling of an idea‚Ķ. whether a distance of time makes the latter versions more or less appealing?
    Though yes, you’re right about prints of horses having existed well before Chloe’s. I guess for me, that collection was particularly memorable‚Ķ and it’s not just the horse print per se but the ‘galloping’ action and the way it’s placed on the garment that makes it somewhat distinctive. It does end up sounding silly when we talk about the finer points but overall, I agree with you – interesting reinterpretation is key!

  7. ambuji says:

    It seems the designers have truly set the “reins” free and fashion is a “galloping” forward! Lovely juxtaposition of prints, stripes and colors without losing the aesthetic sensibilites.

  8. Olive says:

    I love the painting on those clothes

  9. Excellent post. I love the sleek and bright look. Glamour’s look Wow! All outfits are beautiful. Much creativity. In this Fashion Week Look elegant, and cool. I like your style. Good photograph. I like your blog very well and continue to do so.

  10. Susie, I also think that it is interesting that designers are willing to risk editor-fatigue, although in the case of Maison Margiela vs David Penfound I remember thinking it was a win-win situation, since fashion editors aside, Penfound was only going to benefit from a situation in which he made 10% from the sale of t-shirts which were suddenly more in demand…
    Milk from a Thistle’s collection has a completely different design aesthetic but the idea of a horse print is so distinctive that it is almost impossible to look at it without conjuring up images of Stella’s collection. I personally think that if a designer is to be successfully “inspired” by another, or follow-up such a distinctive collection, it must be done in a much more subtle or completely different way. If M from a T did not intend to ‘reference’ the earlier collection at all or didn’t know about it then it is a little unfortunate. That said, we are all talking about it so if publicity was their aim…
    http://www.belenechandia.com

  11. Hello Susie!
    We’re avid fans of your blog and I must say you have great choices in clothes that you share. Keep it up sweetie!

  12. lucy says:

    The dress is so beautiful!!I like it!
    http://www.eshoppingfashion.com

  13. Chuck says:

    These are more fantasy t-shirt than Stubbs to me but I love the collection and it is fun to re-look at Chloe.

  14. susie_bubble says:

    Jackie: I don’t even remember whether Penfound actually did sue MMM or not – I don’t think he did as you said, he probably profited from the publicity anyway‚Ķ. though I think at the time, it was more of a shock that MMM, not being print orientated could have been so careless about copying a vintage piece‚Ķ.
    Yes, that’s what I was trying to say about the idea of ‘recollecting’ or ‘conjuring’ up past collections. Is there an acceptable time gap for this to occur? i think ten years is more than acceptable and actually for me, these Milk from a Thistle pieces are a welcome trip back to that collection. I guess for you, that isn’t the case. I did try to ascertain whether the designer was aware of the Chloe reference or not‚Ķ. it may not have been a conscious thing after all‚Ķ. but I don’t think publicity was their aim either given the scale of the designer. It gave me something to chew upon on an Easter Monday‚Ķ.

  15. Sophie says:

    Ahh, Cricket… as a Liverpudlian even the name conjures up images of WAGs wandering around in Juicy Couture tracksuits, Uggs and rollers in their hair. It’s such a shame that the store has garnered itself a reputation as the WAG hunting grounds, considering it’s one of the few places in Liverpool that you can find such a diverse range of designers in one place (although the taste level of some pieces is questionable!)
    And I agree that the Milk from a Thistle horse print is so obviously different to McCartney’s Chlo√© collection. Although that collection can be seen as so iconic, I admit that I love Danielle Atkinson’s horse prints so much more. You can really see her background in textile design shine through this collection.

  16. Hi Susie,
    I don’t know whether he did or not either. Wonder if we could look up his sales figures before and after… :)
    I completely understood your point and thought it was really interesting. I think that any amount of time is ok so long as the second designer puts a personal enough twist on it. I actually love to see a designer take an idea and do something different with it, especially when they make it better. To me that’s what ideas are for: if each step is a step in a slightly different direction with the same initial starting point I think that it can help to make the world (or in this case fashion) a more interesting place. However, for me it could be that no time is long enough if the second collection is simply reminiscent of the first and doesn’t add to it or twist it or take it in a different direction, depending on what it is. In this case the horse print is just so unusual and strong… But hm… you’re making me think past my initial reaction…happy pondering and Happy Easter!

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  18. saigon says:

    unfortunately as you said, images, prints, designs keep coming back. the essential of it is to add something new and unique if possible to these already known ideas.

  19. Megan Guernsey says:

    These remind me of chesapeake bay, except the horses were on the sand, not on my clothes.

  20. january says:

    this blazer is incredible. suddenly i want horse print everything. GORGEOUS.
    january, x
    jessicajanuary.com

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  22. betty smith says:

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  23. Ascen says:

    MARAVILLOSO….‚ô•‚Äø‚ô•

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