Images from RUSSH, Vogue and Ossie Clark, with Vintage Library Paisley samples

Paisley is one of the most iconic and recognisable prints. The paisley motif originated in Kashmir, India, where it is known as the symbol of fertility, taken from the early shoots of the date palm. The design became very popular in Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom, in the mid-1700s. Original paisley shawls from Kashmir, brought back to Europe by the East India Company, were hand embroidered by Indian artisans and sometimes took up to 5 years to be completed. In some cases shawls were worth more than a London apartment! (Napolean Bonaparte’s wife is said to have used Kashmiri shawls for gowns, upholstery and bedcovers.) To keep up with the demand the Scottish town of Paisley began to manufacture the print, hence the name ‘paisley’, as it is known today.

By the late 1800s paisley was over-manufactured and out of fashion. Then came the 1960s and paisley was back – with a vengeance! Perhaps considered the print of the era, paisley was made famous by the likes of Mick Jagger and The Beatles, and admired for its exotic, elaborate aesthetic and Eastern influence suited to the hedonistic and rebellious hippie culture of the time.

After the spring/summer 2012 shows it would seem paisley is ready for a revival, featured in the collections for Jil Sander, Stella McCartney, Jonathan Saunders, J.W. Anderson, Haider Ackermann and Clements Ribeiro, where the rich earthy spice colours of 60s paisley have been replaced by pastels (Jil Sander and Jonathan Saunders) and blues (Stella McCartney and J.W. Anderson). Haider Ackermann’s paisley motif print was the only one that echoed the traditionally rich colours of the paisley print. Intricate and sensory, a new twist proves paisley to be a permanent…

Jil Sander S/S 2012

Stella McCartney S/S 2012

Jonathan Saunders S/S 2012

J.W. Anderson S/S 2012; Fall 2011

J.W. Anderson Paisley Motif Print S/S 2012

Clements Ribeiro S/S 2012

Haider Ackermann S/S 2012

Marianne Faithfull

Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull

Paisley projected on a model,1960s

Jimi Hendrix

George Harrison

John Lennon

Paul McCartney

Psychedelic Paisley by Think Positive textile designer Emilie Cacace