Afternoon Tea | March 10, 2016 | Home
the quintessential English trend making a comeback
Chintz: Early 17th century, from the word ‘chint’, denoting a stained or painted calico cloth imported from India.
It’s official – chintz is having a moment. A return to glory after a forty year hiatus which saw the ubiquitous print style disappear in favour of bold monochromes, clean lines and modern minimalism.
The story of chintz begins in the early 1600s when it made its way west from India, thanks to European explorers and the British Raj. The resulting boom was such a threat to the English textile industry that parliament enforced a law, forbidding the use of chintz in household furnishings and clothing.
Of course, this legislation only served as temptation to the rebellious Victorian style set and the fabric became a hit, soon riding high as the darling of aristocracy and featuring in swathes of home decor, clothing and soft furnishings. They just couldn’t get enough of it.
In fact, the word ‘chintz’ refers to the finish (a thick glaze) not the pattern – although it quickly became a catch-all term for richly coloured pictorial designs, including flowers, animals, trees, fruit and even character scenes.
When a fabric style has once been popular enough to be outlawed, it’s little surprise to see it return to steal the interiors scene, even after IKEA famously debased the trend further with its ‘chuck out your chintz’ campaign.
We think IKEA did chintz a favour, helping to engineer the break we all needed to have a better appreciation of pattern, colour and where to use it prudently and – importantly – with restraint. We take a look at how three British designers are celebrating chintz in their own inimitable way:
House of Hackney
Known for playful prints and cool ‘maximalist’ vision, House of Hackney is adored by London style mavens and celebrities alike. Never shy of a full colour assault, the brand is known for opulent, rich schemes, statement pieces and luxury craftsmanship.
Latest pieces include traditional florals with sherbet colour pops, dark florals and intricate William Morris patterns.
Designers Guild has been a fixture in our homes for so long, it’s impressive to see how the group manages to remain at the forefront of interiors trends.
There are floral prints for traditionalists but when it comes to the new chintz zeitgeist, the Zephirine range’s acid bright pops (thanks to digital technology) capture it perfectly.
Image source: Designers Guild
Cath Kidston’s work embodies fanciful print perhaps better than any of her contemporaries – and she explores feminine colourways and nostalgic motifs which keep customers coming back for more. The very British brand has just celebrated its 20th birthday and dishing up fresh variations on its trademark florals, polka dots and vintage prints.
Image source: Cath Kidson blog (SS16 press show)
For the traditionalists, Jean Monro is the company of choice. Daughter of the renowned 1920s decorator Geraldine Monro, Jean revived her mother’s favourite fabrics, reproducing traditional English prints from archive material.
Many are still printed in England, using traditional methods. Visit the website for inspiration and to find a stockist near you.
Traditional hand blocking at Jean Monro (Image source: Jean Monro)
For more chintz inspiration – including using floral print in mid-century interiors – US blog Design du Monde has an interesting debate on chintz versus toile. Do you favour the English or the French romantic style?
Having a love affair with florals? Discover fashion’s best grown up blooms.
Lead image source: Cath Kidston