Blue and White: Fashion

September 24, 2015

Blue and white has become one of the most popular colour combinations in history. This classic colour palette originated in Asian ceramics in the 9th century. These ceramics spread across Europe and influenced 16th century Delftware and the Willow pattern created by British manufacturers in the late 18th century. It was also during the 18th century that printed fabrics such as blue and white Toile de Jouy became popular.

The printing of blue and white fabric in the 18th century lead the way for fashion designers using blue and white as a prominent colour combination for years to come. Inspired by this serene colour combination designers such as Christian Dior and Valentino, as well as high street shops such as Dr Martens, have echoed 9th century Asian blue and white wares over and over again in their designs.

Toile de Jouy shoes by Roger Vivier for Christian Dior, 1956.

Toile de Jouy shoes by Roger Vivier for Christian Dior, 1956.

Grace Kelly, 1957.Natalia Vodianova christian dior 2012

Grace Kelly in Blue and White, 1957, inspired Christian Dior’s skirt worn below by Natalia Vodianova, 2013.

valentino 1968

Valentino, Autumn 1968.

Victorias Beckham in Roberto Cavalli 2005

Victoria Beckham wears a Roberto Cavalli dress with printed designs inspired by Chinese blue and white porcelain, 2005.


Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Spring/ Summer 2007, inspired by Toile de Jouy fabric.

A model presents a creation by British d

John Galliano for Christian Dior, S/S 2009 Haute Couture collection, Paris, photograph by Francois Guillot.


Lady Gaga wears a blue and white floral printed costume for her 2009 Brit Awards performance.

Guo Pei fall winter 2010-11

Guo Pei, 2010-2011, dress inspired by the blue and white Chinese ceramics.

Rodart Spring summer 2011-2Ready to wear Spring Summer 2011 Rodarte details New York September 2010


Rodarte, Spring/Summer 2011, dress and shoes from the Ready to wear collection.


Gianni pucci photo-mcqueen mosaic shoes

Alexander Mc Queen, 2011, Mosaic dresses and shoes designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander Mc Queen.

Valentino blue and white 2013

Valentino, 2013.


Giambattista Valli, Couture Fall collection, 2013, blue floral jacket dress.

Phillip Lim spring summer 2014 -2

Phillip Lim Spring summer 2014

Phillip Lim, 2014.

Dolce & Gabanna fall 2015

Dolce & Gabbana, 2015.

Dr Martens 2015

Dr Martens Willow Pattern Collection, 2015.

Li Xiaofeng 2006-2008 ming + qing dynasties fragments

Li Xiaofeng, 2006-8, Qing Dynasty fragment dress.

This is the end of the Blue and White: Fashion edition. Please come and see a selection of blue and white ceramics that inspired many of these designers in our Blue and White: British Printed Ceramics display, Gallery 146 on the 6th floor.

Also keep an eye out for more Blue and White art and design on the way soon!

About the author

September 24, 2015

I am the Residency Programme Assistant at the V&A, managing our artists in residence and their studios. I also project manage many events, displays and installations run by our Learning...

More from Kate Quinlan
3 comments so far, view or add yours


I’d like to respectfully suggest that your opening statement, that the color combination of blue and white first appeared in 9th century ceramics, is a bit misleading and implies that no previous culture combined those colors in textiles or other media.

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