Mad about Stripes
- Published:15th Jul 2016
STRIPES ARE EVERYWHERE
Stripes are everywhere. Whether it is in design, fashion, religion, architecture or nature, the pattern has percolated through cognisances of our everyday reality and is now firmly rooted in our minds as a distinctive symbol. The peculiarity of the stripe may be explained with its flowery history. According to the Middle Ages iconography, stripes represented the evil. Troublemakers who were not that fond of rules: prostitutes, hangmen, lepers, Jews, disloyal knights, adultery wives, servants, traitors, criminals, cripples or cruel dwarfs. The misfits. Perceived as the cursed, they were truly unaccepted by the society for their risk-taking, failure-defying and lawless nature. These criminals attracted attention not only for who they were and what they stood for, but also for what they wore. They were documented wearing the eye-catching stripy patterned clothes. An early crook´s statement piece. Stripy pattern has since been heavily associated with making a bold statement. However, some historians portray stripes to be the boundary between the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’.
THE FRENCH DID IT FIRST
If we think stripes, a free association is taking us directly to a sleekly mustached French gentleman in a striped shirt, red barrette and a baguette in his hand walking near La Tour Eiffel and nonchalantly smoking a cigarette. The history of stripes is tightly tied with our cheese-loving neighbours. No wonder the French are credited for coining the pattern as stripes has been present in their history more than anywhere else. Even though they are deemed to have invented stripes, ironically enough, they were the ones who initially rejected it in the first place.
Despite its many clashing versions, the history of stripes dates back to 12th century and it is akin to the Roman Catholic religious order, the Carmelites. The Carmelites began with the vintage style fashion of wearing a woolen cloak (known as pallium) with grey stripes. It was a typical fashion of the religious who lived in the Holy Land. The Carmelite Brothers and Fathers transported stripes to the country of love where they faced being ridiculed and alienated because of their appearance. The French referred to them as Les Frères Barré, ‘the barred brothers’ and immediately rejected to adopt their ‘new’ style.
STRIPES MEANT REVOLUTION
After Pope Alexander IV suggested for the brothers to abandon stripes, the pattern was not seen in fashion until 1850. This is when the French seamen were spotted wearing striped sweaters. The stripes’ revolution followed eight years later when on the 27th March in the Act of France white and navy shirts were initiated as Brittany sailors’ uniforms. What followed is the history. The French mastered the stripes and popularised it amongst the masses. In 1930 exemplary Coco Channel launched the nautical collection and the world had gone mad. Designers extraordinaire and celebrities have been since showing their affection for the pattern and style.
In their peculiarity, stripes are a rebellious and striking statement pattern that is constantly reoccurring in the fashion industry. They always find their way into our wardrobe.
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