Behind the Print: Wing Dance

October 24, 2013

They dance, they swing, they pop, camouflage, brighten and sculpt. The DVF print is, and always has been, synonymous with the brand. So it should come as no surprise that we are unique in beginning each collection not with silhouettes, but with the prints themselves.

Our Print team’s home is the DVF Sample Room in the heart of the bustling New York Garment District, so, as Diane does many times every week, we headed uptown and learned more about the process behind the prints.

Our Fall collection was born many months ago in Paris when Diane and the design team gathered books, samples of fabrics, and colors and laid them out on the floor to start dreaming. The elements that inspired October’s theme were nudes and blacks—makeup colors—and whimsical, cheeky prints. Diane was inspired by the Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher, and pored over books of his work with our print designers, Dan Reynolds and Tessa Birch.

“We think of it as a piece of artwork first,” Dan says of developing a print, which often begins with an original painting or sketch.  “Diane, that’s what she’s about: beautiful things,” Tess adds. “And obviously she’s a big collector of art, and she’s got very eclectic taste.” So when Dan and Tess were each trapped at home during Hurricane Sandy, the possibilities were endless. “We were painting at home in Williamsburg for that whole week,” Tess recalls. “The theme was Escher: positive and negative,” so Tess painted an Escher-esque wing that went on to become the basis for a whole family of prints within our Glam Rock collection.

Her painting was scanned, edited and repeated, resulting in three versions of the “Wing”. The original painting became a “placement”—a print a garment is built around—on a runway blazer and pant. Extending the wing made the trompe l’oeil pleat “Wing Gode” perfect for a shift dress, and the “Wing Dance,” a small, allover repeat was scattered happily across easy jumpsuits and dresses. But the effect of this–and many–prints on the collection didn’t stop there. The wing motif even appeared as a leather accent on a solid wrap dress!

Dan and Tess have worked with Diane creating prints for six years, each coming from the Masters in Textile program at Central St. Martin’s, widely regarded as the finest design school in the world (Diane attended Tess’s graduate show in London, and hired her directly from there). Now they’re leading a team (rounded out by scarf designer Johanna and coordinator Vanessa)—when they aren’t finishing each other’s sentences or comparing favorite coffee shops in the neighborhood (consensus: the independent Ramini Espresso Shop). And they’re creating artwork that dances across garments that are worn across the globe—and by their own team. “It’s quite nice to wear what you’ve designed,” Tess admits. And modeling her own Wing Dance print on a long jumpsuit, she looks simply effortless—a true DVF woman.


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