Sunday 24 June 2012

Carven Electric

Get some powerful prints in the mix, courtesy of Carven...

If hopes an African summer in the traditional, and idiomatic sense, seemed dashed until recently (and still somewhat doubtful, at that) then perhaps it may have explained why African-inspired fashion has yet to feature prominently among the key statements of this season. Sure, many key pieces that excited the fashion press were of a distinctly out-of-Africa nature - the construction and colour palette at Donna Karan and the ethnically-inspired embellishment at Burberry, to name but two - but aside from a few neon and boldly coloured ikat-style geometric prints, it appears to have kept a relatively low profile... until now. With this and the major trend towards bright colour (hell, it's the only sure-fire way to brighten up our days where some of us are!) in mind, I decided to take on Carven's tribal printed shirt from the picture below:

Writers (just to use an umbrella term - advances in modern technology have quite blurred the lines as to which source comes primarily from where these days!) have mentioned likenesses to Missoni, but I think I can go one better than that. Looking at the collection, yes, I too could imagine it being conjured up by the Missoni team, using offcuts from British-Nigerian artist, Yinka Shonibare's Here installation or the prints from his work for the Un Ballo Maschera film. Looking at how the tribal geometric prints intertwine with sketched linear patterns, I had to throw in my two DIY-driven cents on how to get the authentic look. So, in for a penny, in for a pound...

You will need

Two paintbrushes including one good one and one really soft, cheap one you don't mind vandalising

Fabric paint in:
Lemon yellow
Apple green
Olive green (mmmm, greens!)

Black permanent fabric marker


Patternmaster or graded setsquare

Gold gel pen

White shirt collar and all purpose adhesive (optional)


Very easy 

Very easy, in fact I suppose the only reason the scissors icon isn't on the far left-hand side is to cover my back with creating the ikat-style effects. It may take a while to get the feel for it and you might want to practise on a scrap of material, but it's very easy when you know how. The scribbling part's easier still.


It took me about 7 hours per side. That said, I was pretty distracted and, if I'm honest, that time went pretty fast. In fact, I'd describe the process as really enjoyable colouring in (which I hadn't done in a fair few years!)

The process - as communicated in the form of interpretive dance:

Only joking - but I did put together a collage for easy reading.


  1. OMG! This is so awesome! I never thought making your own prints would be this easy! I'm definitely trying this out! :D

  2. Thanks, Pauline! Glad I could be of help - have fun :)