Frolicking in Florals

1 March 2008

Despite Cambridge’s rather depressing lack of springtime sunshine, Lili Sarnyai embraces this season’s florals, reinterpreting a tired trend through a recourse to classic English quirkiness.

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Ah, that breath of crisp air, those fluffy white clouds in an iridescent blue sky, the pink-nosed lambs bleating peacefully in sun-filled meadows, mildly inebriated Cambridge students attempting to steer rickety punts on a lazy Sunday afternoon, the scent of freshly shorn grass–and florals in fashion. Sigh: it must be spring. Yet again, one of the biggest trends is without the faintest wisp of a doubt that predictable abundance of all things flowery and bright that seems, almost overnight, to envelop every store, from the boutiques of Bond Street to our much-loved High Street staples of H&M and Topshop, in a plethora of petals and insistently cheerful hues.

But rather than sighing discontentedly and wishing designers would exert themselves once every few seasons and push the limits of their imagination to envisage trends with a little more je ne sais quoi, it is far more useful (and admittedly, a great deal more uplifting–flowers are fun, no matter what anyone may say!) to consider the specific manner in which fashion luminaries chose to interpret this season’s blossom revolution. Anyone observing the spring runways will tell you that far from presenting a uniform comprehension of florals, the creations floating alluringly past betrayed the most abundant variety conceivable within the confines of a single trend, the only apparent point of consensus between designers seeming to be an decided optimism that gave the clothes a certain playful quality, one which is easy to embrace after a winter of greys, monochrome and tired jewel tones.

Perhaps the most striking of all collections was that of the perennially unique Dolce & Gabbana, “flowers” becoming something so much more than mere floral prints on pretty pieces. Not for the fashion-shy, their tulle ballgowns were adorned with enthralling, hand-painted invocations of brightly coloured blooms, suggesting a certain woodland opulence in the spirit of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that threatened to vanish as soon as the model had sashayed past in the fragile creation. In a similar vein, both Carolina Herrera and Dries van Noten turned to floral prints worthy of any true artiste, outfits seemingly constructed from fabrics that had served as a meticulous painter’s canvas. Nicolas Ghesquiere predictably took this one step further in his collection for Balenciaga, evoking bold splashes of colour and blossom-like effects in what constituted a dizzying array of sculpted creations. For the traditionalists, Gucci interpreted the trend in question through crisp, abstract florals with an emphasis on vibrant hues contrasted with dark outlines, whilst Luella appealed to classic femininity with sugar-sweet calico prints scattered over fresh yet timeless pieces.

Alas, most of us can only dream of donning designer flower gardens–yet all is not lost. Although bedecking yourself in florals from head to toe may lead to unwanted attention from ladies of a certain age eager for you to join their book club, mixing the flower trend with simple, classic items such as soft cashmere cardigans or even tougher pieces like (Wellington) boots will allow you to embrace the joie de vivre that only a flowery bubble skirt can give, whilst maintaining your position of youthful fashion connoisseur.