Though my favorite kind of prints are geometrics and small patterns, I am taken with novelty prints- but none of those cheesy novelty prints, thank you very much. Some of my favorite novelty prints are from the 1920s and 30s. If they have a Deco vibe to them, then all the better. The problem that I have with many of these prints is that they can be difficult to use. Much better to use them on pillows or seat cushions rather than on large scale projects like curtains or sofas.
I recently became reunited with my copy of a Victoria and Albert book on novelty fabrics, and most of the patterns featured were dress fabrics. Aha! That's the way to use these prints. Carolina Herrera used some novelty prints in her Spring collection a few years ago, and the effect was utterly charming. Of course, you wouldn't want a closet full of these prints. That would be far too whimsical and would make mixing and matching way too difficult. But still, can't you see having a Summer dress made from one of these breezy fabrics?
"Sea Horses", cotton, Calico Printers' Association, England, 1936
"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" designed by Ralph Barton, crêpe de Chine, American, 1927. (Though I am a brunette, I do find the humor in this print!)
"Surfers", cotton, English, 1937
"Mothballs and Sugar", designed by Edward Steichen, crêpe de Chine, American, 1927
Image at top: "Masks" designed by Jean Cocteau, silk crêpe, French, 1938