Florals: Cliché or blooming Spring trend?

Phoebe Stone 16 May 2014

“Florals for spring… groundbreaking” intones The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly, but is the print really as tired and predictable as this famous quote suggests?

Post-industrial revolution, Britain was finally able to cheaply produce the flowery chintz fabric it previously procured from India, providing affordable and attractive clothing for Britain’s women. Since then, the floral print has been synonymous with ladies’ day dresses.

In 2007, Kate Moss’ Topshop collection reignited the trend, spawning numerous high street imitations of ditzy-print apparel. The success of the collection proliferated the misconception that florals are an exclusively British, feminine, and somewhat conservative, statement.

Despite its current British association, organic imagery has been a fabrics staple for thousands of years − originating in the East with detailed motifs and continuing through the Middle Ages with the use of stylised vines and fruits in Italian prints. The infinite variety of earth’s flora offers a wealth of inspiration and today’s designers have recaptured this botanical spirit to create modern floral styles that are as fresh as a daisy.

Dolce and Gabbana consistently bring a sumptuous, medieval feel to florals, easily achieved by adopting a dark palette. Drawing on the current nineties grunge revival, head to Urban Outfitters for smoky blooms in a similar aesthetic. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a flash of neon throws florals into the future and adds a sports-luxe twist.

Appreciate the whimsical allure of florals, but full-on foliage isn’t up your street? Channel Christopher Kane and snap up a cute flower-themed slogan sweater from Topshop.

From the high street to high fashion, florals are everywhere. Talent including Erdem and Oscar de la Renta featured 3D blooms in their SS13 collections, kickstarting a trend for applique that shows no signs of wilting. In 2014, the kaleidoscopic work of Mary Katrantzou introduced a bolder, more abstract quality to this theme. River Island offers a dazzling high street version for £80. If floral clothing is a bit much, check out Accessorize’s subtle sorbet-hued applique purses, echoing Prada’s popular daisy motif.

Branching out on the high street, florals are available in a variety of options. Tropical prints in chic separates for women and short-sleeved shirts for men give a fifties throwback feel, whilst oriental florals provide a delicate taste of the exotic. Spring in Britain may mean dull daffodils, but it’s a jungle out there in the world of fashion.