JOINING up the dots for autumn? Brief history lesson: the 'polka', a Czech form of dance, derives from the Polish for "woman"; in Czech it translates to "little girl". The cartoonish print is unabashedly feminine - Christian Dior used it in his New Look collection, in what Vogue reported was a "direct, unblushing plan to make women extravagantly, romantically, eyelash-battingly female". Marilyn Monroe wore polka dots on a bikini; Yayoi Kusama, for whom polka dots are a signature, calls them "infinity nets"; Roy Lichtenstein lifted them from comic books; Rei Kawakubo, whose has said that her earliest memories of fashion comprise "blue and white and polka dots", prints them on T-shirts and wallets for Comme des Garçons.
Thought polka dots were a simple seasonal tic? You thought wrong. This season they're more redolent than ever of old-school femininity. At Balenciaga, coin-sized dots adorned a couture gown created to mark the centennial of the French house. At Loewe, Jonathan Anderson employed them to uncharacteristically naïve effect, printed on tightly-pleated and ruffled silks. At Jacquemus, they were fat and globular, comprising the uniform for a Parisian girl who fell in love with a gypsy in the south of France. Simon Porte Jacquemus namechecked Christian Lacroix - once king of polka dots. Just don't call it Minnie Mouse fashion.