From stunning florals to abstract animal patterns, exclusively designed prints have always been at the heart of Fenn Wright Manson’s elegant seasonal collections. Our skilful print designer, Meanca Neethling, tells us how the bespoke printed designs are created.
Where does your inspiration for creating prints come from?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and strike at any moment, from visiting art galleries to sipping your morning coffee on the tube and spotting someone beautifully dressed. However, it mainly comes from researching fashion archives and seeing new print collections from design studios on a daily basis – we cherry pick our favourites as a team. We always get the design on a hanger, printed on pure silk but in one-dimensional layout, so as designers we need to see the potential the print has and think about how to design and manipulate it into beautiful pieces. The strongest designs usually emerge from team discussions.
What qualities are you looking for in a Fenn Wright Manson print?
They are typically hand-drawn pieces that have impact and striking detail. It needs to be something that catches your eye.
How do our prints make Fenn Wright Manson stand out from other brands?
They are all exclusively hand-designed for our brand. Rather than following trends too closely, it’s about creating something that is current with a special Fenn Wright Manson twist our customer can relate to and will wear for much longer. We create timeless, individual pieces that she’ll want to cherish.
At Fenn Wright Manson we create capsule wardrobes to make dressing effortless. How do you achieve that?
We always try to link our prints, taking elements from the main print that’s used in the dress to create a secondary print for a blouse. That will translate to the customer having the option of owning a mini capsule collection in her wardrobe, making it easier to dress and mix and match outfits. We also ensure that the print designs complement our separates across the season’s collection. For example the October-released Elodie dress and blouse feature a bespoke abstract berry print, and I had to go back to the designs in the collection to make sure all the colours of the jackets launched in September are in the print so that our customers can style each garment with each other. Because everyone’s different, one customer is going to wear a black jacket (Hortense) over their Elodie blouse, but another will wear pink (Rochelle). So by the end of the season, the option is there for a more versatile collection. A shade or colour family within the styles makes it easier for her to dress.
How long does the process take?
Some pieces are really quick. Specific designs are more labour intensive and take days. It depends. With the Jolie dress and top, the original print featured Oriental-inspired flowers on a peach background. I manipulated the print and placed it onto a navy background which made the print really pop and gave it versatility as the customer has the option of taking it from winter into summer, styling it with some nude shoes.
What skills do you need for print designing?
Aside from the technical aspect, the skill is in making sure that you’re really considering the shape of the garment and the print, and the relationship between the two. For instance you don’t want two blossoms on the chest! The blossoms go where your eye needs to fall on the garment, to ensure a flattering design. The biggest challenge for me is to work out how the print is placed on the fabric – with the silk Gabrielle and Berdine dresses, I placed the beautiful pink blossoms onto a midnight-blue background so that the print looked the same on every size, from 8 to 18. You need patience, artistic eye for detail, the vision to see how the garment will look and the journey to get it there.
What do you love about your job?
It feels incredibly rewarding once a piece is done. Seeing it come to life, from being a flat piece of pattern translated into a garment, or spotting it on someone at an event, is wonderful. Actually seeing it through as an end result makes it special. A bit like a baby!
What can we expect from the Fenn Wright Manson SS20 collection?
More prints! Summer is more print driven; it’s brighter, the flowers are in bloom. With winter you’ve got more textures; it’s about the tailored coats, the party wear and the sparkle. When we designed the Emmanuelle Dress (in green and burgundy), we created an ombre painted lace with sprayed-on glitter. It was a great way to combine print and sparkle for the festive season.