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Squiggle Theory: The '80s Design Movement Taking Over Today

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Everywhere you look, there it is: Memphis. Not the city, but the Milanese design collective that flourished in the 1980s, responsible for the busy geometric patterns and bold color pairings associated with the era. Now, this resurgent movement is cropping up around every corner, from ceramics and paper goods to dresses and sandals.

Memphis-Milano in its heyday

Fittingly, the comeback started with interiors, stores and restaurants designed with Memphis Group hallmarks: playful primary and pastel color pairings, squiggles and zigzags, an appropriation of '50s kitsch but with a new wash of California lightness. Any bar or boutique worth its salt has kicked mason jars and taxidermy wall decor to the curb, subbing in wonky clay pots and geometric planters. And now, it's fashion's turn.

Mociun White in Brooklyn, NY by Driely S. for Racked, 2015


Last year, Adidas did a collection of sneakers inspired by the collective, and now the look is filtering through to accessories, jewelry, swimwear, dresses—even boutique-ified chocolate bar packaging. Some of the best interpretations of the Memphis-Milano movement are minimalist takes on the inspiration: soft color blocking, bold patterns reduced to black on white, and small clusters of geometric shapes strung on simple cords as necklaces. Find a handful of our favorite wearable nods to the Memphis Group below, including a rad Made by Dawn bikini set, a charming Dusen Dusen dress, and an unapologetically bold pair of Sophia Webster sandals.

  1. & Other Stories

    Graphic leather pouch


  2. Poketo

    Miro necklace


  3. Made by Dawn

    Bikini top


  4. Made by Dawn

    Bikini bottom


  5. Sophia Webster

    Patti sandal


  6. Dream Collective

    Riviera cuff


  7. Mast Brothers

    Goats milk chocolate


  8. & Other Stories

    Graphic print dress


  9. Aelfie

    Sketchy pillow


  10. COS



  11. All Knitwear

    Sticker Stripe sweater


  12. Dusen Dusen

    Paper midi swing dress


  13. Aelfie

    Francine bedding