Flora is back on trendsetters’ moodboards this spring as ladies are tempted to rediscover their romantic and sentimental ‘fleur bleue’ nature. This trend will follow through to next fall, taking an even more Fine Art turn with collections like that of Dolce & Gabbana, which reinterprets Baroque painting floral motifs.

Flowery fabrics, which were considered unfashionable for a long time, have recently reappeared on the catwalks as designers look to archives, antiques and costume for inspiration. Historical fabrics produced by Lyon and British manufacturers since the eighteenth century serve as an unending source of reference: Marie Antoinette ‘Fête Champêtre’ style with pink roses, blue ribbons and baskets, Neo-classical urns and garlands of poppies, peonie wreaths in Belle Epoque design, floral passementerie, upholstery silk bouquets, Art Deco stylized leaves and flowers, William Morris’s Arts & Crafts anemone, thistle, tulip and rose patterns.

Thus, the famous company Liberty, London known for its floral prints, has been creating fabrics since 1875 and has collaborated with artists like Dante Gabriele Rossetti in the nineteenth century to Yves Saint Laurent, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Hermès in present day. Liberty archives are even accessible to designers through a database of fifteen thousand patterns, which enables them to reinterpret the brand’s precious heritage.

Modern textile printing techniques offer designers a new approach to the floral theme. Dye-sublimation printers are used to produce photographic prints, while digital printing allows them to place each motif exactly where they want it on the fabric and play with its size. New artificial colors, borrowed from digital photography, express the surreal world of pixilated high definition screen images (Mary Katrantzou, Prabal Gurung, and Blumarine). These purposely artificial-looking flowers may express a certain sense of nostalgia for real nature in a dehumanized urban industrial environment.

Certain brands use graphic art, poster design aesthetics and template techniques to mix flowers with typographic signs or comics bordering (Preen) for a stylized retro-modern appeal.

In contrast, Antonio Marras remains true to his ‘Japonism’ and to the delicate flowers found in Hiroshige engravings that famously inspired Van Gogh.

Tracy Reese dares to propose a total romantic look: pastels with unusually large flowers, or a reminiscence of a 20’s Gatsby garden party dress.

Indeed, short-lived, fragile, blossoming flowers have always been used as a metaphor for the ‘eternal feminine’ in literature, mythology, art and religion, as women were closely associated to the life and death forces of nature.

In the late 1800’s, flowers represented feelings and code books allowed couples to exchange messages through flower arrangements. Poet Thomas Hood then wrote: “sweet flowers alone can say what passion fears revealing”!

We are overwhelmed with nostalgia at a time when love declarations are sent by SMS and breakups posted on Facebook!! Please gentlemen…dites le avec des fleurs!

Louise Kissa