The polka dot pattern has a long and interesting history and tends to go in and out of fashion, to the point where now polka dots of all sizes are kind of a fashion standard. The origins are difficult to pin down, as there are instances of polka dots being worn across social strata, from a painting of Madame de Pompadour wearing une robe à pois in 18th century France to photos of people in the lower classes wearing polka dots as a more interesting and inexpensive alternative to plain, solid-colored textiles. The French term quinconce, meaning a staggered, diagonal arrangement of dots, was also used as a word for the fabric in 19th century France, but today a polka dotted garment is referred to as à pois. I won't comment here on why we call them polka dots in English, as there are conflicting stories about its origins and whether they have to do with the dance style, a term for a Polish woman, or another etymology.
But to me the most fabulous deployment of polka dots of all time has been the career-spanning, decades long body of work by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, also known as the Princess of Polka Dots. My illustration of the polka dot influence in fashion, therefore, really must be a paean to her and her distinctive look in old age...
I love this artist's spirit so much - and I am not alone, as she has often been voted the most popular and beloved of pop artists, even ahead of Andy Warhol.
The grande dame of dots has inspired me to do several iterations of drawings... Which do you like best?
Long live Yayoi Kusama!