It's long been the case that fall is for cozy knits and crisp jackets, and spring is for prints. The spring collections are always the most fun to watch, kaleidoscope of brights, florals and graphics cutting through the impending endlessness of winter in the city.
This year, however, you'll find an increasing number of eye-popping patterns on the racks of boutiques and department stores. Indeed, even as the weather turns chilly, the fashion set are just pairing their floral minidresses from spring with ribbed tights and boots and soldiering on. Perhaps a print captures the sense of uniqueness that people are actually willing to spend for ("investment" and "unique" seem to be the retail buzz words right now), or maybe it's simply that they convey a sense of optimism we're all grasping for. Heck, maybe it's the nation's fascination with that one floral Thakoon dress the First Lady keeps wearing.
But most likely, the rise in prints dovetails with an increasingly talented pool of designers who've made print-making an equally vital part of their collections.
Brooklyn-based designer Caitlin Mociun has made a commitment to keeping her line earth-friendly, which makes her prints all the more incredible (dyeing being one of the most damaging things you can do to a garment, environment-wise). The line really started gathering steam over the summer with the growing popularity of the designer's graphic black-and-white tanks and tie-front dresses. Mociun's silhouettes are clean and simple, emphasizing the prints over the complexity of the tailoring. For fall 2009, the designer unveiled a series of graphic patterns in blue and orange, as well as simple check, but the highlight is undoubtedly the "space print," a celestial purple, orange, black and white pattern that evokes memories of 10th grade science books about the cosmos.
Consistently unconventional—her collections have been known to include perfectly wearable knit cardigans alongside sparkling short rompers—Comey's prints have always been surprising and playful. Her fall collection places a huge emphasis on florals: orange pencil skirts with lavish flowers spread across them, silky dresses with tiny roses, moody purple shifts with an almost brocade feel, and then wallpaper-like florals in white-and-baby-blue. All things you'd expect to see coming down a spring runway, yet Comey cheekily pairs them with chunky cardigans and boots as though it were the most natural thing in the world.
While the ladies behind Vena Cava's confident, feminine line were initially noticed for their eye for the curve of a dress or the flip of a skirt, they've long been admired for creating their own highly unique prints—sometimes inspired by travel, sometimes by an art book. (In fact, the secret of the designers' as-yet-unannounced collaboration with Gap was pretty much spoiled once images of their prints on a simple dress were leaked.) For fall, the duo debuted an eye-catching red graphic pattern as well as a mystical, earthy-meets-cosmic green, white and black silk—which the ladies applied to a tank, a minidress and a long glamorous gown.