S.ou are among the simplest and at the same time most enigmatic things fashion has to offer, and not only looking past them is completely impossible at the moment: polka dots. Points. Small or large. Points that stand out against a background. In every conceivable color. If the question were which pattern is suggestively strongest, one would have a favorite.
The pattern as a gateway to infinity
The Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, for example, wants to recognize the planets in polka dots. The sun: a polka dot. The moon, the earth. But also people, every single one: a polka dot. For Kusama, who until Sunday was devoted to a retrospective at the Gropius Bau in Berlin, the pattern is a gateway to infinity. For designer Marc Jacobs, a great admirer of Kusama and someone who may have never looked more elegant than in a Comme des Garçons polka dot suit, it’s one he loved from the start.
Polka dots are a childlike pattern, they say. One that can be found, for example, in the ears of an old, small stuffed cow. She wears an apron-like shirt, a blue and white striped scarf and plays Brahms’ lullaby when you pull the string. Their points are tiny and could be stars. That too is part of the secret of the dots.
The image changes with the size of the dots, and the mood changes depending on the contrast and distance. The points can also be released from any rigid order. This is easy to see on a 1950 Elsa Schiaparelli sweater, which is listed in the online archive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: The round sequins are spread across the front, while the back remains empty. The black dots on a white Oscar de la Renta dress, on the other hand, keep more distance. Kate Moss appeared in it in 2006 for Vogue from the water of a pool.
The classic dot definition actually provides for uniformity, a reliable distance between each point and its surrounding neighbors. Each point is sharply defined and of exactly the same size. You can see that from here you cross the bridge to the stereotypes that accompany the polka dot.
It should be clear and innocent
Because the idea of gender should be nicely regulated like the distances between the points. As proof, countless photos of pregnant princesses could be cited, of red and white dotted coffee cups so bulky that you can grip them with both hands, of Marilyn Monroe in figure-hugging polka dot dresses.
It should be clear, “ultra-feminine” and never threatening. Such an unambitious little polka dot doesn’t bump into the world and – naive as it is – has nothing to do with business suits and career plans.
Is it not so? Clowns wear points. People who have hopes or even illusions, who believe that everything can be fine and that, as one song claims, polka dots tell of the happiness of outsiders.