Design as virus 9: Mondrian fashions


Elly Jackson of La Roux in the recent video for Bulletproof. I’ve been enjoying La Roux’s debut album a great deal in the past week. The jacket she’s wearing is designed by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and features the black stripes and primary colours used by Piet Mondrian (1874–1942) in his Neo-plasticist paintings of the 1920s.


Castelbajac’s jacket (above left) is from a collection his website calls JC in the sky with diamonds!!!, a collection which also borrows Jackson Pollock’s paint drips and Disney’s Mickey Mouse for some bold Pop Art effects. Further Mondrian inspiration is in evidence on other outfits but the Dutch painter’s influence on the fashion world goes back at least as far as 1961 with a dress design by Ann Klein, followed shortly thereafter by Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian day dress (above right).


Twenty years later, French bicycle racing team La Vie Claire used Mondrian as an inspiration for their distinctive jersey designs. This flourishing in the Eighties makes Elly Jackson’s choice of clothing particularly apt since La Roux draw so much on Eighties’ music and style. The sight of the racing jacket reminds me of Eighties’ band Age of Chance who liked to wear similar cycling gear and whose video for Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Noise incorporates some Mondrian background patterns, possibly via The Designer’s Republic who were designing their record sleeves at the time.

You can still buy replica copies of La Vie Claire clothing even though the racing team no longer exists. The woman’s dress above was another derivation produced a couple of years ago by Urban Outfitters.


Mickey Mondrian (1976).

I’m sure these aren’t the only clothing designs to be found. Tracking the full extent of Mondrian’s influence today is an impossible task, as well as being a great painter he’s inadvertently become one of the most influential graphic designers of the 20th century. Those abstract patterns get everywhere; Mondrian Espresso, anyone? So I’ll end with a witty painting by artist and designer Mick Haggerty whose Mickey Mondrian managed to collide the Dutch painter with Disney’s mouse three decades before Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Design as virus 8: Keep Calm and Carry On
Design as virus 7: eyes and triangles
Design as virus 6: Cassandre
Design as virus 5: Gideon Glaser
Design as virus 4: Metamorphoses
Design as virus 3: the sincerest form of flattery
Design as virus 2: album covers
Design as virus 1: Victorian borders

7 thoughts on “Design as virus 9: Mondrian fashions”

  1. That La Roux video is scrumptious, but the chorus is hitting me right between the lungs. Simple, yet so loaded with heartache. Off to weep, ta ta.

  2. If that makes you weep, you probably shouldn’t hear the last track on the album, Armour Love, a fantastic pop anthem.

  3. Heh, thanks. Seems like a bit of a cheap shot but I couldn’t resist it after this. If it’s good enough for a pack of coffee…

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