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program name College of Design

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Choosing Fabric

Designers make many decisions. The dresses on display highlight one key choice - fabric.

Printed textiles have been around for centuries, with various methods used in different cultures and at different times. In 1783 Thomas Bell patented his roller-printing process, dramatically impacting textiles in the West by making printed dress fabrics more affordable. The monochromatic, repeated print of the red dress below hearkens back to these roller-printed fabrics. However, its subject matter is decidedly different.

 Cotton shirt dress, 1961-1666, gift of Betty Cowie

The use of novelty prints in apparel began during the 20th century and was particularly popular during the 1950s and 60s. These figural prints featured everything from people or animals to household appliances or tourist destinations. In line with this trend, the red dress features two men dueling as a young woman anxiously watches in the background. It and the yellow dress below are the work of The Vested Gentress

Cotton dress with belt, 1965-1969, gift of Sybil Roberts Seay

Fritz “Bud” and Naomi Jackson started the company in 1961. They became known for whimsical, screen printed garments. Bud created all of the early prints, although other artists were later added to create mostly floral designs. Bud particularly loved to draw animals - seen in the yellow dress, which features dogs sniffing flowers. These quirky prints capture the noted mid-20th century trend. They also remind us that design and dress can be fun!