There’s a moment in Amy, the Amy Winehouse documentary, that seems like a huge fashion disconnect. It’s the singer wearing gingham.
Sure, it’s a strapless dress with a scalloped trim. But there’s an unspoken law about the globally popular fabric that bows to a courtroom populated by Dorothy Gales, utililitarian-chic workers and homespun fashion-minimalists.
The material’s uniform checkered and predictable simplicity seems to be an utter mismatch on the body of a boundlessly creative chanteuse whose life was eruptive and chaotic. And gingham’s evocation of nuclear families serves as a reminder that Winehouse came from a broken family with an absent father.
So what’s the secret behind gingham’s being able to subvert its unpretentious – some might even say plain – reputation?
It’s about what the wearer is trying to project.
Checked patterns – same two colors, same-sized checks – suggest homogeneity and regularity, an unswerving dedication to Saturnine rules and procedures.
So it’s just plain fun for a raucous and eclectic fashionista to subvert this fabric’s nod to conformity, a piece of mischief on a gal feigning a proclivity for regimentation.
On Winehouse, however, it may have been a desperate cry to find her way back to a home – both affectionate and disciplined – she’d always yearned for.