The harlequin pattern and name has historic roots but was transformed when the "clown" or comedic servant, dressed in this traditional street performer garb was a key character in the Italian theater, the Commedia dell'arte.
From that time, the jaunty pattern has been predominantly associated with the clown and often trivialized in fashion.
Coco Rocha in Numéro
But as fashion searches for inspiration and as, more and more it looks to it's theatrical roots, the pattern is poised for a resurgance in a big big way.
Kirsten Dunst in Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2008
I'm already starting to see the pattern popping up on clothes and accessories. The pattern, like much of what is coming out for this season, is full of color and life. It can transform with each color combination and will go well with pastels or brights depending on what colors are used. I like using it to add a punch of excitement to a streamlined outfit.
Susie of StyleBubble, has a version of the harlequin tights and pairs them with a darker dress and jacket.
And it looks like we'll be seeing the darker versions on into Fall and Winter of the year. I like that it's being adopted more into clothes and not just kept on the safe sidelines.
Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall 2008 RTW
Since I'm loving all the patterned tights available, I was excited to find a version with smaller diamonds all in great bright colors of rose, pink, yellow, grey, blue and green. I wore them today with a pink crewneck sweater, a grey corduroy skirt and my pink JCrew satin mary janes.
I debated a while this morning about what shoes to pair with them. I didn't want to go with basic black (although you could, to jazz up a more somber ensemble). I wanted to be bright and fun and add more color.
I've received a lot of comments and compliments. My favorite was that I looked like a cupcake with all the festiveness going on.
Like my upside down legs? Here's a close-up of the pattern and colors...
I bought them from Joy of Socks, which is where I've purchased a bunch of tights recently. They're very comfy and such fun!
From Moulin Rouge and Marie Antoinette in the movies, to Lacroix, McQueen and Galliano on the runway, we're seeing a continued increase in excess, fantasy and theatricality. I only hope it continues so we can see more of this integrated into "regular" life.
Buy tights at Joy of Socks
Queen Michelle at Kingdom of Style likes tights too.
Check out the harlequin gloves by Julia Jabour over at She Breathes Life. Fashion Culture.
Getty Images has a great overview of recent harlequin sightings.