Five for Finding: The Kaleidoscope Print

A couple of seasons ago, word around the office where I worked was that our director of design had been pulling together a series of prints in colors best described as neon magenta, neon indigo and neon turquoise. It was a poorly kept secret. It’s hard to keep anything as eye-burning as neon turquoise a secret.

The inspiration for this capsule collection was “light,” but in case that sounded too non-committal (or lazy), it was refined to “perceptions of light:” filters; prisms; the cover of that Pink Floyd album people know only from Urban Outfitters t-shirts. Such a fashion-y way of putting it, you’d never guess that the only pattern that made it to production from this original set was just a series of stripes.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve come across a number of designs that make me want to take more seriously how we “see light.” Broadly, they’re referred to as kaleidoscope prints, images reflected left-to-right like a mirror or inkblot, but then reflected again top-to-bottom so the effect is more quadruple than it is double.

If you’ve never played with nor introduced your kids to a kaleidoscope, you’ve missed the best time-suck invented before the Xbox. Conventionally, it looks like a sealed paper towel tube. Three interior mirrors run the entire length and reflect off one another. The bottom cover is thin white plastic, and a bunch of small colorful shapes bounce atop it. The upper cover has an eyehole, and when you look inside, light through the bottom picks up the shapes and bounces their color off the mirrors into infinity. The effect is snowflake-like. It’s way cheaper to buy than Call of Duty.

It’s rough justifying what to spend on prints. Plaids and stripes are always safe, except of course that even plaids and stripes aren’t always safe. This is an instance where for me, trend can resonate as fast fashion, not investment. Underlying graphics and photos–eye-catching on their own–that are given the kaleidoscope treatment have produced something new for the market, something innovative. And innovation is always worth exploring. Certainly more so than eye-burning turquoise.

These are five kaleidoscope print bags for finding:

1: w. ander by Collina Strada, $69, urbanoutfitters.com
2: Zara, $89.90, zara.com
3: Rafe New York, $225, handbags.com
4: Alexander McQueen, $525, neimanmarcus.com
5: Emilio Pucci, $995, nordstrom.com

Ander by Collina Strada

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