—————HUSHKIT EXCLUSIVE—————- FRED BUTLER’S FLYING COLOURS —–Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo

The polychromatic Fred Butler.

For a fresh look at aircraft camouflage schemes, Hush-Kit got in touch with colour expert and accessories designer Fred Butler. Famed for her love and understanding of the relationships between strong colours, her accessories have been worn by the great and the good, including Lady Gaga.

Fred will be accompanied on her mission by Thomas Newdick. Thomas has almost twenty years of experience in aviation journalism, and is one of the UK’s leading experts on Soviet & Russian aircraft. Today, he is the Assistant Editor of Combat Aircraft Monthly.

Thomas Newdick- the Jacques Brel of aviation journalism.

  1. Mikoyan MiG-29A Slovakian air force (Vzdušné sily Slovenskej republiky) in digital camouflage twinned with Preen’s pastel prints
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Though the Slovakian air force only have ten MiG-29As, they receive plenty of media exposure due to their natty digital schemes.

Who’s afraid of a digital Wolfe? Certainly not Preen, with this radical new take on lace.

Fred says: “Preen’s digitised geometric square pastel prints came from an extreme close-up of a vase of peonies and lace in reference to looking at Virginia Wolfe and her lifestyle with the Bloomsbury set: ‘We loved various aspects from that period but felt to replicate them would be too retro, so we tried to take it to a new level by computerising everything. We took the lace from that period and digitised it so it became very geometric and black and white, almost to the point where it didn’t feel like lace any more.’ ”

Thomas says: “Part of a recent trend for digital camouflage patterns that also extends to uniforms and land systems, the Slovakian scheme was once intended to adorn the entire fleet of these Soviet-built fighters. Known as Cloudcam, it was applied two single-seat MiG-29s (serials 0619 and 0921) as part of their part of the modernisation in 2008. The scheme was devised by HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp. of Canada. This scheme is a follow-on to the company’s Digital Thunder scheme previously painted on serial 0921. The use of Blue, Medium Gray and Light Blue Gray is intended to conceal the aircraft against the ground, sea, overcast and blue sky.”

2. Prototype Sukhoi Su-32FN with bright ‘pop’ colour camo twinned with the Dior bag with camo print by Berlin artist Anselm Reyle.

The Su-32FN is a maritime strike aircraft with a very long range. The long endurance of the type necessitates the inclusion of toilets and a cooking galley. The camouflage scheme features gaudy clashing colours.

Anselm Reyle used high intensity ‘camo’ styling for his Dior bag.


The shoe model who leapt from a Su-32 was found buried three feet deep near Murmansk. She said she was delighted by the Su-32 flight, but fancied ‘ a quick dive’.

Fred says: “The Parisian House gave free reign to Berlin fine artist Anselm Reyle to shake up the codes of Couture, with his signature style inspired by the agitprop of eighties punk graphics. His prints for accessories reworked camo in bright, saturated hues & fluorescent colour ways. or as he puts it ‘I am interested in irritating the viewer’s eye’. ”

Thomas says: “The three-tone camouflage scheme worn by this prototype Su-32FN maritime strike aircraft was likely intended to provide the aircraft with improved concealment over water, or at least in a littoral environment. The pattern is classic ‘Flanker’, but differs in its use of a deeper shade of blue and a blue-green color. Interestingly, the first Su-34s delivered to the Russian Air Force retained a very similar (if not the same) scheme, although this now seems to have given way to an unusual dark grey over pale blue scheme, presumably better adapted for use over land, or perhaps more suited to nocturnal operations.”

3. Sukhoi Su-35BM in splinter camouflage twinned with PRINGLE S/S 2012 designed by Alistair Carr

The Su-35BM fighter in a ‘splinter’ scheme of greys and white. Aircraft manufacturers are acutely aware of the aesthetic and connotative power of camouflage schemes. Company demonstration aircraft and prototypes often wear ‘attention-seeking’ schemes.

The most advanced Russian fighters, the fearsome PAK FA T-50 prototypes, are painted in a very similar scheme to the Su-35BM.

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Geometric design knitted in the PRINGLE S/S 2012 designed by Alistair Carr. The design incorporates intarsia, a knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colours.

Fred says: “Geometric design knitted in the PRINGLE S/S 2012 designed by Alistair Carr; Carr’s first collection designing for the British heritage brand updated their traditional argyle and jacquard patterns,  playing on the function of knit as a brilliant tool for colour, texture, and pattern.  The opening look of the show was this gray crewneck sweater with multi-coloured intarsia bands based on the patterned upholstery of London Underground tube seating.”

Thomas says: “For some time now, Sukhoi has been applying splinter camouflage schemes as an alternative to the more traditional patterns. In particular, they have been associated with advanced single-seat Su-35 fighters (including the latest Su-35BM model, as seen here). As well as two-tone blue/grey air defence schemes and a sand/brown/green ‘desert’ pattern, the latest offering is this, employing three shades of grey, and with the pattern extending to the undersides of the aircraft. Although it has yet to appear on in-service aircraft, this latest scheme has already been aped by the US Navy Aggressors of VFC-12 ‘Fighting Omars’ (adapted to the F/A-18). A similar (albeit somewhat less complex) scheme has also been used for Sukhoi’s next-generation T-50 fighter project. Up to now, however, the Russian Air Force has proven resistant to adopting the splinter scheme, with refurbished ‘Flankers’ instead receiving new variations on the traditional ‘wavy’ scheme.”

4. Sukhoi Su-30MKM twinned with Aqua colour camo print like Tommy Hilfiger S/S 2012

Malaysian daze! The Su-30MKM prototype in its distinctive wiggly scheme. Sadly, Royal Malaysian Air Force Su-30MKMs are far more drab.

The men behind the scenes of Hush-kit rocking a hoodie and shorts combo. The look is set to be all the rage at Farnborough 2012.

Fred says: “Hilfiger’s collections are always preppy, but this season he made preppy more modern, inspired by contemporary art. He chose the artists he collects himself and focused on Andy Warhol and Basquiat for this Warholesque camo print. He applied the pattern onto jackets and shorts in a red/purple/pink mix and a cropped jacket and sweater in blues and blacks seen here.”

Thomas says: “Classic camo print like Kenzo S/S 2010. Similar to the scheme above in terms of palette, this pattern substitutes a complex wavy pattern for the splinter scheme. Interestingly, the aircraft in question is a prototype Su-30MKM (previously a prototype Su-30MKI), a type developed for use by Malaysia (and India, in the case of the MKI). However, the Royal Malaysian Air Force operates the aircraft in a subdued overall dark grey scheme, while India also uses an overall grey scheme, although somewhat lighter. Clearly, the three-tone scheme is more eye-catching and therefore better suited for marketing purposes and air displays.”

5. Messerschmitt Bf 109E-7/Trop twinned with Givenchy S/S 2011 jacket.

Givenchy Autumn 2007 couture pumps, perfect for dogfighting over Africa.

Fred says: “It’s the Couture shows this week, but back in 2007 the newly appointed designer at Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci made top-to-toe looks in dégradé cheetah check pattern. The way the dot print fades into the sand camel section really looks like this plane’s paintwork- like the body of a leopard print gecko.”

At this point Hush-Kit wheeled in another expert, Ed Ward. Ed is an aviation illustrator and has studied the history of aircraft for over twenty five years. He has given up smoking and plays the ukulele.

Ed Ward and Fiona Banner’s Sea Harrier both look down on you.

Ed says: “Any study of warplane camouflage is likely to feature the aircraft of the Luftwaffe’s Jagdgeschwader 27 in the Western Desert. Flown by Franz Elles, this Messerschmitt Bf 109E-7/Trop of 8./JG 27 was active in North Africa in summer 1941. Naturally, flying over the Mediterranean makes a mockery of this ingenious camouflage pattern, consisting of RLM 79 Sandgelb over RLM 78 Lichtblau, with patches of RLM 80 Olivgrün. The result provided a near-perfect match to the desert scrub encountered in North Africa.”

6. Northrop P-61 Black Widow twinned with Black patent sheen with spherical form like Giles PacMan Headwear by Stephen Jones from S/S 2009

The Northrop P-61 Black Widow was as mean it looked.

Tits and a space helmet- a winning combo.

Fred says: “Black patent sheen with spherical form like Giles Pac-Man Headwear from S/S 2009. To accessorise this 80’s theme collection Giles worked with milliner Stephen Jones on enormous Pac-Man metal helmets to complete a sci-fi sadomasochism scheme.

‘I was just looking at the graphic designers of the late eighties and early nineties who I grew up admiring: Ben Kelly, Peter Saville, Mark Farrow. Pet Shop Boys videos, The Hacienda club. What they did was ridiculously simple but incredibly graphic.’ Pac-Man dates from the same era”

Ed says: “A gloss finish replaced the matt black paint originally applied to the Northrop P-61 after it was discovered that gloss black rendered the aircraft less visible in a searchlight beam.”

8. The SK-37 Viggen is twinned with Pattern like Jeremy Scott x Adidas Originals A/W 2011 camouflage sneakers………. with wings!

The Viggen first flew in 1967, the year Sgt. Pepper came out. The lovely camo scheme worn by the near aircraft is sometimes known as ‘Fields and meadows’.

Adidas wings camo shoes by Jeremy Scott. Roman courier Mercury, the god of commerce and thieves, wore winged sandals.

Fred says:  “These military-inspired high top basketball JS Wings sneakers for the Adidas Originals by Original line, have dark woodland camo print and lined inside with a “Aviation” orange inner.   He has added to his signature wing motif  with the finishing touch of a dog tag including all his own essential information and even his blood type B+ !”

Ed says: “The splinter scheme applied to the Saab Viggen is a remarkable instance of camouflage standardisation. It had been used since the mid 1970s for aircraft, vehicles and ships. In scaled-down form the same pattern is used for Swedish field uniforms.”

A bridge between aircraft camouflage and fashion. Swedish soldiers wearing a scheme essentially similar, but obviously scaled-down, to that worn by their nation’s aircraft. Today, Swedish aircraft, like that of most other air forces, are painted grey.

As we have seen, fashion is quick to jump on the stylings of the military’s disruptive camouflage patterns. Today, the latest digital schemes are echoed in the work of many fashion designers. Sadly, it appears that the golden era of aircraft camouflage, with bold contrasting colours may be over. But, as the fighters of the world become a washed-out tribute to the colour grey, with low-visibility markings, the fashion world is far from finished with what was described in the 1910’s as ‘the razzle-dazzle of camouflage’.

Thank you for reading Hush-Kit. Our site is absolutely free and we have no advertisements. If you’ve enjoyed an article you can donate here. At the moment our contributors do not receive any payment but we’re hoping to reward them for their fascinating stories in the future.

Have a look at 10 worst British military aircraftSu-35 versus Typhoon10 Best fighters of World War II top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes. Was the Spitfire overrated? Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story and The Planet Satellite. The Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. Those interested in the Cold Way should read A pilot’s guide to flying and fighting in the Lightning. Those feeling less belligerent may enjoy A pilot’s farewell to the Airbus A340. Looking for something more humorous? Have a look at this F-35 satire and ‘Werner Herzog’s Guide to pusher bi-planes or the Ten most boring aircraft. In the mood for something more offensive? Try the NSFW 10 best looking American airplanes, or the same but for Canadians. 

See Fred Butler’s work here.

If you enjoyed this article, we think you may enjoy this one by Vice magazine’s Bruno Bayley. 



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