While you can never have too many monochromatic closet staples, the WhoWhatWear.com staff has a serious crush on clothing that makes a bold statement. Last spring, we noticed a preponderance of fashion-forward femmes who were trying the Tribal Punk trend: think ethnic prints paired with loads of leather and studs. Of course, prints are huge news for spring as well, but we are pleased to report that this year both designers and directional dressers are taking a new approach to patterns. This season the focus has shifted to digitally engineered prints that riff on classic Native American and African folk art in hyper-bright colors. And while the influences of these Az-Tech looks come from all over the globe, we are beyond pleased to gather our favorites right here in today's Trend Report featuring our favorite Techno Tribal looks!
One of the main references for this style is the Louis Vuitton S/S 10 show. Marc Jacobs, the visionary designer behind the LV label, said that his inspiration was a post-punk world traveler, and the spring show was filled to the brim with exotic prints that looked as though they were sourced from foreign bazaars, technicolor accessories, and outrageous accessory overload (complete with foxtail-festooned purses and furry clogs). Needless to say, the collection was high-drama and playful, but we think the follow up Pre-Fall collection provided more wearable variations on the theme. Case in point: Natalia Vodianova's Pre-Fall LV dress, which she wore to attend the Sidaction Fashion Dinner in Paris at the end of January. The shocking pink handkerchief dress featured a zigzag tribal pattern, proving that our aforementioned equation works for an exuberant evening ensemble.
Naturally Natalia's not the only one trying the trend. Isabel Lucas also opted for frock in the TT fashion when she wore an airbrushed dress featuring acid hues of pink, black, and blue from Josh Goot's S/S 10 show. The Australian-born, London-based designer is known for his flirty apr├Ęs-beach pieces, and we are particularly taken with the optic ombre piece that Lucas wore to the Daybreakers premiere early last month in her native Sydney. Paired with bare legs and black open-toed heels, the look is playful and sophisticated. We also tracked a similarly tribal techno example on the gorgeous Heidi Klum, who wore Gucci's Vietri Blue Ikat Printed Dress ($4700, 800.456.7663) and Daryl High Heel Platform Sandals ($930) at the W Lounge during New York Fashion Week in February. The graphic ikat print in optic white and royal blue proves that you don't have to go for eye-popping shades to get a chic effect.
Likewise, you don't need to wear a party-ready frock to achieve an on-trend outfit. You can just focus your Techno Tribal energy into a strong accessory, or piece of outerwear. Pixie Geldof did just that in a neon green Leopard Print Cropped Jacket ($925, 310.652.1120) from the always-outrageous Jeremy Scott's S/S 10 collection. Her outfit exemplifies how a strategic accessory can make an impactful statement without being too loud.
Now that you know how the leaders of the pack are rocking Techno Tribal, let's tackle the best way to import this trend into your own closet rotation. Obviously, there are a ton of TT treats on the market, so we've happily narrowed down the best of the best. If it's a dress you desire, make sure to check out Diane von Furstenberg's Swann Dress ($595) in Palace Tiger Green or Motel's Matilda Dress ($55) in Aztec Chain; alternately, Marc by Marc Jacob's Dashiki Striped Jumpsuit ($386) for a playful pant-and-top combo with a pair of T-strap sandals or heels this spring.
If, like Geldof, you would rather update your wardrobe with a smaller dose of TT, we can highly recommend Free People's Techno Tank ($68), Jonathan Saunder's Printed Oversized Jersey T-Shirt ($289), Basso & Brooke's Printed Jersey Tee ($310) or Forever 21's Tie Die Print Skirt ($13)┬--despite the name, it's definitely more graphic than groovy!
As for those of you who feel like a less-is-more approach is more up your alley, please consider Brazen's Tribal Dance Scarf ($32) or Zimmerman's Mali Animale Drawstring Bag ($81). And though our fearless foursome opted for apparel, we also quite like the idea of the Techno Tribal shoe; Giuseppe Zanotti's Strass Suede Caged Sandals ($1595), House of Harlow 1960's Misha Beaded Moccasin Boots ($275), and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent's Roma Wedge Sandals with Knotted Straps ($350) are all optimal options to get you strutting in that Techno Tribal style in seconds flat. Regardless of how you choose to channel today's trend, we wish you happy hunting! ┬--Kate Mulling
Photo of Heidi Klum and Isabel Lucas, from INF.