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Chequered jackets, trouser suits, bags… even shoes with check motifs are in this autumn. And as is the case with almost every imaginable pattern, each type of check has developed its own lifestyle associations over the years. From Scotland to France and from England back to the province of North Brabant here in the Netherlands, we give you the low-down on three frequently spotted check patterns.
Tartan: from Christmas to Vivienne Westwood
While floral prints conjure up images of spring, when it comes to tartan, our associative memory throws up something along the lines of: autumn, winter, grey skies, rain, more rain, Christmas, Scotland, Burberry and England. Oh, and punks, including their lead stylist Vivienne Westwood. Tartan has its roots in the Scottish Highlands. Certain checks were originally associated with specific regions, and later, each Highland clan had its own check motif. The Scottish check is traditionally woven using virgin wool, a warm material that perhaps explains the association with the dark, cold days. We are also seeing a full-on tartan motif revival in our brands’ collections. Snuggle down next to a crackling fire in the fiery red flannel pyjamas from Twinset. Heading out? Then there’s the green-blue shirt dress from By-bar or the top with subtle balloon sleeves from Noisy May.
Gingham check, ‘Brabantsbont’ and Brigitte Bardot
The block pattern is the defining characteristic of the North Brabantian flag. A pattern widely used for napkins, tea towels, tablecloths, and hence associated with rural life in the Brabant countryside. The origins of the motif are actually just as chequered as the pattern itself. In England, this ‘Brabantsbont’ (as it’s known here), is called Gingham, and has its roots in Malaysia. But that’s not all: Germans claim that it’s a Bavarian pattern, while the French contend that it was conceived in the town of Vichy. Thanks to Brigitte Bardot’s regular appearances in the ‘Vichy check’ in La France, it didn’t take long for it to be redubbed the – ever popular – BB check. Country style or chic, both style variations are back this autumn. The pattern shines in the blue and white oversized shirt from PENN&INK N.Y., but also in classic suits with a modern twist from NA-KD or the dress with frill detailing from Desires.
Paris chic with pied-de-poule
What’s called houndstooth on the other side of the North Sea is called pied-de-poule (hen’s foot) here in the Netherlands. It certainly sounds French, but the pattern is actually derived from her older, Scottish brother: tartan. The association with France is most probably linked to Christian Dior’s regular inclusion of the check in his 1940s signature New Looks. And Coco Chanel put pied-de-poule, as well as its larger variants pied-de-coq (cock’s foot) and pied-de-cygne (swan’s foot), to great use in her iconic tweed pieces. This autumn, we’re seeing the return of the pattern with a certain je-ne-sais-quoi in colours including beige/camel, as in the overshirt from Selected Femme. Or go for a sweater, coat, skirt, bag, hat or even a scrunchie in classic black/white from NA-KD. After a multi-check pattern incorporating pied-de-poule? Then look no further than the Glen Urquhart check, as seen in the double-breasted woollen coat from Vero Moda.
Written by Marjolein Lammerts van Bueren