We’d be lying to you if we claimed that prints are ‘back’ on the trend charts because they never really went anywhere. Starting from printed scarves and migrating to printed pants, the vibrancy and quirkiness of prints has never been isolated from the fashion fields. What prints have done though, is escalate and become bolder. Thus summer 2012’s fashion brings with it something special, as it delegates every print combination to act in symphony with each other and give rise to the patchwork print trend.

Continue reading after the jump to see examples of patchwork prints offered for spring / summer 2012 and to find out how you can style the trend for your own wardrobe.

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Click the thumbnails for full pictures
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board
Contrasts & cohesions: mood board

What is a patchwork print clothing?

Using two or more panels of patterned fabric in the same ensemble, patchwork prints are entitled to be considered more of a print than a fabric trend. It is, however, the placement of those print fabrics that sets it apart as a trend and makes patchwork prints their own standalone clothing trend for spring / summer 2012. That fact may leave you wondering how patchwork prints differ from wearing print-on-print for summer?

It’s a very good question as there isn’t too much of a difference between layered and patterned prints in theory, as the end result of both does present the body in a canvas of colours and prints. However, patchwork prints are artistically created as one piece, by the means of sewing different pieces of print fabric together. What might look like two unmatched pieces of fabric in an outfit is actually a well thought of ensemble styled to look that way. The patchwork can be outlined in any shape, there are no strict rules here: square, vertical, horizontal or random placements are all options. The prints can also clash or compliment.

Critics might argue for patchwork prints to be aimless and a haphazard interpretation of the print trend, however, they remain to be arbitrary in their strongest form.

Who’s designing patchwork prints?

The essence of patchwork prints was seen from the very start of D&G’s spring / summer 2012 showing. The square-patterned wall tiles at the end of their catwalk coordinated with the collection’s gypsy vibe, and patchwork prints proved to be the continual theme of the show. D&G created each piece true to the trend by putting individual pieces of printed fabric together to form a piece of clothing all the while maintaining the illusion that you’re viewing different pieces. Similarly you’ll find more than a hint of gypsy nostalgia amongst Emilio Pucci’s spring 2012 collection.

If you’re a collector of vintage scarves or paisley-print dresses, then you have a great DIY project before you, but remember to sew it all as one piece – you don’t want this to divert towards the print-on-print trend.

patchwork print dresses
D&G patchwork print dresses

Where D&G offered up a gypsy vibe, others turned to the summer basic of floral prints. Dries Van Noten translated the patchwork print trend on the runway in a very literal manner, as horizontal blocks of floral prints sewn in conjunction with one another. Vanessa Bruno also interpreted the trend by using a broad range of pastel-hued fabrics and working them through sole outfits.

patchwork floral prints
Dries Van Noten & Vanessa Bruno patchwork floral prints

If you’d like to avoid the overt-themes and the floral cliches, you can always look to texture. This interpretation of the trend sees designers widen the options and use different varieties of fabrics and fabric finishes as the patchwork. Bottega Veneta’s collection serves as a prime example where geometric patterns juxtapose with tribal ones before blurring out into pleats. The options here are near-on limitless and you can turn to metallic studs, sheer ruffles, mesh, embroidery, pleats and leather to create a single outfit.

textured patchwork clothing
Bottega Veneta textured patchwork dresses

Patchwork without the print

Not everyone has the confidence to don statement prints, so it goes without saying that not everyone who likes the look of patchwork prints will have the confidence to wear them. So there are alternatives that lead out of the textured patchwork interpretation.

Alexander Wang and Rick Owens gave the trend an architectural edge, taking it trend towards structuralism and definition. Owens played with different types of fabrics such as leather and cotton, while Wang used mesh fabric with sweater knitting in a patchwork to define the silhouette. You don’t particularly need to have a print-rich wardrobe to adapt this trend, as patchwork patterns can be created with the mere panelling and placement of clean fabrics.

geometric patchwork clothing
Alexander Wang and Rick Owens geometric patchworks

How to wear patchwork print clothing

  • Patchwork prints are about bringing several pieces of print fabric together into one outfit while making it look as eclectic as you possibly can. That is the gist of this trend; so don’t shy away from it.
  • Work other spring 2012 trends into your styling of the patchwork print trend, as this is the best opportunity to do so; lace, crochet, mesh, beads, mirrors, leather, multi-tone prints, paisley prints – the world of fabrics and detailing is your oyster. You might want to take inspiration from our guide to summer layering.
  • Know your body type and look for prints accordingly with either horizontal, vertical, boxed or panelled patchwork.
  • Don’t be afraid of mixing colours, as that’s the high point of patchwork prints.
  • This print trend is all about creating delusional silhouettes for the body; work that to your advantage and find pieces with your dream body shape.

For more inspiration on how to style patchwork prints direct from the spring 2012 runways, head to the gallery above and click on the thumbnails.

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