A painterly project

Updated: May 18, 2020

Painterly /ˈpeɪntəli/


(of a painting or its style) characterised by qualities of colour, stroke, and texture rather than of line.

It already sounds like a cliche but if we can draw any silver lining from the dark cloud of the Covid 19 pandemic it has to be the necessity of creativity. Painting rainbows and thinking of quiz questions seems to have made the difficult days pass quicker, not to mention the breathing space time at home has meant for many of us. It can be hard to act on every creative whim when the daily grind gets you down and everyday admin takes precedent. This has been the case for us a Chaos at least. Furloughing almost all of our small team means that we (Frances and Agy) have been left to make sure they have a job to return to. Continuing to take orders and send them to customers during this crisis had us conflicted at first but after a lot of thinking, and remembering where Chaos grew from to start with, we knew it was something we needed to keep doing. Not only that we wanted to take this chance and room to create to evolve our brand even further. We saw this crossroads as an opportunity rather than a hinderance and we're so glad we took it as the response from many of our loyal followers has been so positive. We really hope the fruits of labour means that Chaos continues to grow and thrive in the future.

If you've been following us for the last couple of months you'll know we've been teeing up the next instalment of our Spring/Summer 2020 collection. This year we intended to stagger the releases of each seasons collections so rather than overwhelm you in March with all of our summer designs we scheduled drops to follow in May and July. We're really pleased to announce that to still be the case and the Early Summer drop 'The Lady is Risen' lands next Thursday, 21st of May. It consists entirely of dresses and smock tops and we'll follow this post up with another about our passion for that so often misconstrued item; the dress.

However during the process of designing these dresses, sourcing fabric and toiling them we hit a few stumbling blocks. When it comes to creating a product that needs to be replicated multiple times for the duration of a collection there are many things to remember:

  1. Use a fabric that suits the style, that's not too difficult to work with and you are able to source again

  2. Create a design that is simple yet effective; too complex and the price to put it into production is unrealistic

  3. We want it to appeal to as wide an audience as possible so refining the design is essential

Having worked on our brand in this way for the last two years we are well versed in these issues and largely enjoy the process to perfecting a style for the collection. However it can often hinder our most creative ideas. Intricate hand done techniques are a no no, as are one off fabrics that can never be found again. That is where our Painterly project comes in. Inspired by the humble summer dress and techniques Agy developed for her final major collection at university last year we have let our artistic minds run wild to make the dresses we always dreamt about. Now no longer a figment of our imaginations we can't wait for you to see what we've created.

The styles were our blank canvas; four slightly different smocks from 'The Lady is Risen' collection. We were inspired by artist Annie Sloan when we met her at one of our favourite places, Charleston, at the end of 2018. Her coloured chalk paints and love of decorative art combined with the bohemian bloomsbury rooms were the catalyst to us first hand painting fabric with chalk paint. Watered down it bleeds and runs on muslin and organza and our minds started racing about all the endless possibilities. After much trial and error and exciting experimentation over the last year now seemed like the right time to put our efforts into practice. We want to create pieces alongside our collections at Chaos that give us an opportunity to show and realise our wildest artistic wants. One off editions of well loved designs with intricate, hand finished techniques, hand painted in colours we've never been able to find in mass produced fabrics before. We believe that if clothes are extra special they will be valued all the more by the owner therefore making them far more sustainable and good for the planet. Read more about our desire to bring back a 'dress wearing wardrobe' in our next post but if you subscribe to our ideal of wearing dresses for more days than not then why not make it a totally individual, hand made dress that you can confidently say no one else owns?

So throughout lockdown and in the blissful April sunshine we have been painting meters upon meters of natural muslin and then washing it until it looks like an old rag. We then steam press it and gather it up creating tiers and frills and smocked skirts. The results are faded pastel editions of our new dresses perfect for a special occasion or just walking the dog. Hang out the washing and then (when we can) wear it to a garden party- in our opinion there's almost no occasion these laidback, pretty but not pretty dresses won't suit. But we would say that, wouldn't we?

The painterly editions will be quite exclusive as there will only be one of each piece every time. We'd like to create painterly pieces on a regular basis so if you like this approach please let us know! This painterly drop coincides with our Early Summer offering 'The Lady is Risen' and is launching on Thursday the 21st of May at midday.

We hope you love it as much as we loved painting it!

Designed and handmade in the New Forest, England.

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