Summer trends come and go, but there are a few that will never fade: denim cutoffs, vintage T-shirts and, of course, printed dresses, to name a few. A printed dress is a complete outfit in itself, so there's no need to stress about what to wear with it other than debating between your two favorite pairs of sandals.
Recently, a crop of trendy labels has begun to emerge, each claiming to have found the formula for a fabulous printed dress. Many of them design their own custom prints, and some even hand-craft the the materials that make up their garments. Ahead, a roundup of our favorite printed-dress designers of the moment, from Rio de Janeiro to London. Read up — and stock up! — on them just in time for summer.
Harley Viera-Newton launched her line HVN in June 2016. The model and DJ turned her attention to design after being inspired by classic vintage dresses but struggling to find updated versions on the market.
She describes her pieces as "timeless silhouettes you can run around in all day and elevate in the evening with a change of accessories," and prints are central to the HVN brand. "I spent two years developing our silks and our first five styles before I launched," Viera-Newton says. "Prints are the DNA of our brand, so I always begin there. I've always loved the whimsy of conversational prints and how you can have such emotional connections to them. Once the prints are determined, they breathe life into the silhouettes I am ruminating on."
Some of the core dress silhouettes include the Vera Wrap Dress, featuring piping that outlines the silhouette (and bringing in those vintage vibes), as well as the Nora Dress, with a square neckline and mid-length skirt that will go from brunch to happy hour with a simple flat-to-heel swap.
Price range: $355-$795
When asked to describe her namesake brand in one sentence, Saloni Lodha calls it "a celebration of color, freedom, and femininity." Lodha launched the label in September 2010 but the its origin story started almost a decade earlier.
"When I first moved to Hong Kong in 2001, the market was dominated by luxury brands, so I saw a gap for something more personal. I decided to set up pop-up boutiques and sell one off-pieces made in collaboration with artisans from back home," says the designer. "It was only in 2008, whilst sitting in a block-printing factory in Jaipur that I realized my dream was to create a global brand that would take the rich heritage I grew up in and blend it with the global nomadic life I was living."
All of Saloni's textiles are designed in-house and prints are hand-painted in Lodha's London studio. "I have always been energized by colors and patterns," she says. The energy seems to be rubbing off to customers, too, as Lodha has garnered a slew of big-name fans, including Michelle, Obama, Meghan Markle, Karlie Kloss and Priyanka Chopra.
Price range: $395-$895 for ready-to-wear with limited-edition pieces that can retail for up to $3,000
If Coco Shop sounds familiar, perhaps you're thinking of the original Coco Shop founded in Antigua in 1949 by siblings Pat Starr and Amos Morrill. "They ran a wonderful business for several decades," says Taylor Simmons, who spent her much of childhood on the Caribbean island with memories of the beloved local label. In April 2019, she relaunched Coco Shop, creating simple and sophisticated clothing while also supporting Antiguan artists in the process — one of Starr and Morrill's original goals for the brand.
"The original company worked primarily with washable cotton, so fabrication — a huge piece of the design puzzle — was chosen for me," says Simmons when asked about her design process. Coco Shop sources light, washable cotton from North Carolina and digitally print updated versions of the longtime label's original patterns.
Price range: $510-$560 for dresses; $180-$340 for separates, with the exception of the basket skirt, which is $840.
Shop at: Coco Shop
Borgo de Nor
Borgo de Nor launched in 2017 after friends Carmen Borgonovo and Joana de Noronha saw a niche in the market for a brand that could benefit from their unique backgrounds in fashion. "We decided that with our skills sets — Joana in B2B sales and mine in editorial, creative direction and buying — there was an opportunity for us to combine our knowledge and experience and launch our dress brand," says Borgonovo, who serves as co-founder and creative director while de Noronha is the commercial director.
Together, the duo create their own prints and fabrics sourced from all over the world with a majority coming from Italy. 'We start with a mood or feeling and then we build up from there by researching art, poetry, photography and vintage fabrics," says Borgonovo. "At times we test colors four to five times until we find the perfect shade. When we are designing we are constantly thinking of our woman who adores color and is fearless, stylish and not afraid of making a statement."
Price range: $295 for a top to $1,800 for an evening/party dress with most items between $500-$800
Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey met during a fashion management course at the London College of Fashion and quickly bonded over their love of vintage. After they graduated, they dedicated their evenings and weekends to what would eventually become Rixo, which they launched from their living room in September 2015.
"Our prints are hand-drawn and designed by me and then digitally or screen-printed onto our chosen fabrics," explains McCloskey. "I design every print and so, because it's always my handwriting and eye for placement and detail, it will always look like a Rixo piece." McCloskey also shares that they source fabric and produce their ready-to-wear garments in a family-run factory in the silk region of China.
"Whenever we travel, the first thing we do is look up where the best local charity shops, vintage boutiques and flea markets are," says Rix. "We get so much inspiration from different cultures and countries we visit."
Price range: $30 for accessories and up to $660 for one of Rixo's more expensive dresses
From its roots at a marketplace in Rio De Janeiro to its first U.S. collection along with a brand new store in New York's Soho, Farm Rio is truly a brand designed with a global audience in mind. Co-founder and creative director Kátia Barros first introduced the brand in 1997 by selling her bold designs in Rio with co-founder Marcello Bastos. After an enthusiastic response, they grew their presence in Brazil and are now expanding even further abroad with plans to open stores in Los Angeles and Miami later in 2019.
Farm Rio's prints and fabrics are vibrant and busy, drawing influence both from nature as well as the energy of one of Brazil's largest cities. Its design team completely dedicated to print engineering and the brand creates over 400 prints for each collection. Plus, the label is also committed to preserving Brazil's natural beauty by partnering with One Tree Planted: For every purchase from its website and stores, Farm Rio will donate a tree to be planted in Brazil's endangered Atlantic Forest.
Price range: $35-$110 for T-shirts and blouses; $85-$170 for skirts and pants; $185-$460 for longer dresses and jumpsuits