Behind the Print: Tiger Queen Pajamas Design Inspiration
Our typical design process starts about a year ahead of when we plan to introduce new collections. That means that just as we were sitting down to work on the Spring 2021 collection, the pandemic hit the US. We were quickly trying to acclimate to life in quarantine while simultaneously figuring out how to work together (from a distance). Like many of you, Netflix’s Tiger King provided the perfect distraction from this new reality.
But Tiger Queen is about so much more than a nod to the tv series that was so pervasive in the first half of 2020. There is a reason why so many of us love big cats. There’s something really appealing about these animals (and tigers in particular) – they’re fearsome, strong and protective, but also embody a graceful femininity that we knew would resonate with many of our customers.
“I want our customers to really channel the Tiger Queen’s energy when wearing this print. I hope they feel strong, empowered and free.” – Christiane, Designer
“I want our customers to really channel the Tiger Queen’s energy when wearing this print. I hope they feel strong, empowered and free.”
Channeling the Energy of Durga
Another source of inspiration for this print is the Hindu deity, Durga. One of Amy’s favorite Hindu deities – Durga is a fierce mother goddess and rides upon a tiger (or sometimes a lion). Although the Durga herself does not appear in this pattern – her primal, instinctual, sensuality and fierceness can all be felt as the tigers prance and pounce along on these pajamas. Learn more about Durga and try a goddess meditation here.
To capture the power of tigers and the feminine sensuality of Durga, it was important that our Tiger Queen look both intimidating and dangerous, but also pretty and inviting (in the words of Tyra Banks, she really had to “smize”). Designer Christiane drew inspiration from several different antique depictions of Tigers as she painted, including Korean folk art, post-impressionist paintings by Henri Rousseau, and intricate Tibetan rugs.
“It’s always fun to look back and see the contrast between the references and our finished prints. We always get inspired by antique embroideries and tapestries, manuscript paintings, traditional Indian block prints, and folk art from around the world.” – Christiane, Designer
We also wanted Tiger Queen to be a companion piece for our best-selling Bagheera design. We picture our customers wearing and loving both designs, so we decided to make this print more about the tiger herself. To achieve this, we omitted any plant motifs in favor of a stylized, repeating graphic of the tiger in two different positions. We love that this design feels more bold and graphic, and references traditional block prints but in a new, more modern form.
From Painting to Print
Like most of our prints, the Tiger Queen print started as a series of gouache paintings. Once the paintings are complete, we scan and digitize them in Photoshop, tweaking motifs, simplifying the number of colors, and creating interesting repeats.
“While I could work faster if I designed completely digitally, there’s a certain line quality and energy that doesn’t happen without brush and paint.” – Christiane, Designer
Amy and Christiane work together to finalize color choices and fine-tune the design: Do any facial expressions need changes? Does the repeat look good? Is the scale right?
Next, we start the editing process. We typically end up over-designing – creating more prints and colorways than we can actually produce ourselves! Amy and Christiane work together to make an initial edit, paring down print ideas into a more succinct presentation that we can show the rest of our team for feedback. Based on their suggestions, we make a few final adjustments.
The last step is sending the print to our partners in Jaipur, where they prep the print for screen printing, mix dyes and print fabric strike-offs for us to review. All of our prints are hand screen printed, and this artisanal process adds its own energy to the final print.
Pajamas that withstand the test of time
At the beginning of each season, Amy proposes a loose color palette. Our goal is always to provide colors that feel unique and fresh – but are also timeless and not caught up in a specific moment. The colors are season driven, but don’t rely too heavily on trend. We designed this introduction of Tiger Queen for transitioning from winter to spring – the bright, bold colors are perfect for beating the cold weather blues but will also feel cheerful and light as it starts to get warm. (Stay tuned for our second colorway introduction of Tiger Queen – coming this February)!
As an anti-fast-fashion company, it’s really important to us that our pajamas withstand the test of time. We hope you love Tiger Queen as much as we do. As the first introduction of 2021, it is also the first collection offered on organic cotton. Read more about our transition to organic fabric here. Browse the Tiger Queen collection below and let us know what you think in the comments.