Flowers on dresses have periods of popularity within every
generation, and across every nation. It's interesting to
see how designers develop floral trends through embroidery,
weave, print or appliqué. There are also fashion eras when the
flower disappears from mainstream garment fabric and
Within these floral fashions are a variety of looks
ranging from dainty dimity ditzy dolly mixture floral prints, to life size flowers
oversized voluptuous cabbage roses. The look can be very
pretty and ultra feminine. It can also pay homage to ethnic and
Right - High Street Green Flower Dress - NEXT AW09 - Floral and Animal
Print Dress £38/€49.
Floral fashion can be created in many materials other than the
basic surface printed fabrics. Flowers can be bold or subtle
such as in the pattern imagery within the weave of a damask
brocade fabric or be a burnout
velvet fabric such as in the flower dress left.
Left - AW09/10 Catwalk Fashion from Dolce&Gabbana.
Flowers can also stand proud when added as surface
decoration, sequin and beading embellishment, embroidery or
appliqué. Alternatively, the fabric can be soft and float over the body like
this dress from NEXT shown right.
modern technology some designers digitally enhance flowers,
while others employ paint techniques to distort the images; the
result is to
create new abstract floral
looks for the winter 2009 season. Such techniques have brought pattern and
print back into high fashion again. Right now print is an
important concept within modern fashion, and the high street
retailers have taken catwalk designs as their sources of
inspiration. Abstract and floral dress prints are equally popular.
Peter Pilotti used digital prints in his Autumn
2009 collection. ASOS, always at the fore of trend led styles,
have digital floral dress prints in their Autumn 2009 clothing
Near Centre - ASOS Autumn 2009 WW Clothing - Midnight Flower
Panel Dress £40.
Centre - ASOS Digital Print Detail With Watercolour Effect.
Right - Peter Pilotti Digital Print Flower Dress.
Flowers also lend themselves to artfully arranged border prints,
especially Eastern European or Aztec stylised geometric florals.
Flowered border prints look wonderful when taking advantage
of the construction design elements within a garment.
These skirts illustrate two
different border print styles. Within the pattern are two
complex pattern print arrangements. The skirt centre left is similar to
a riotous garden border, with
a foreground of large blooms and a background of medium to
pinhead flowers and grasses.
The second skirt (far right) has a folkloric Russian doll feel
and the border is based on a
deep richly patterned band, followed by a medium scale row and finally a narrow
band. This second skirt border style is a common pattern
arrangement for applying embroidery directly or as
pre-embroidered Bavarian/Hungarian style ribbon braids.
Above Left - Yumi Border Printed Skirt £35 - Very AW09 Clothing &
Right - Monsoon Multi Babette Skirt £75/€127 Eire Monsoon
This variety of scale all helps maintain focal interest within the border
creating a joyful print so typical of the 'festival day' nature
of dress up peasant clothes.
Folkloric looks use a multitude of techniques which hint at a folksy heritage and a reworking of old traditional costume ideas. But
almost always, border prints employ a variety of
scale creating a flowing rhythm of small, medium and large motifs
that add lightness and interest.
sleeves, dirndl style or empire skirts, one piece tunics and of
course maxi dresses all offer potential for maximising the delivery
of the floral pattern.
This kimono dress, shown left, is from Monsoon. The print type
focuses on a familiar combination of a black background and an
overprint which features red, green and yellow. The motifs
consist of floral (roses) mixed with paisley, and by and large this
gives the dress an Indian character.
Right - Monsoon Black Cynthia Dress £65/€110 Eire Monsoon
Autumn/Winter 2009 - Main Range.
Traditional folk costumes illustrate the different pattern
scale very well. Above Right - Traditional Austrian Tirol (Gries)
Dress. Roses are used as a dainty repeat pattern on a hand
printed linen skirt. Look carefully and you will note that
flowers also feature on ribbons,
handkerchiefs and as headwear within this old costume history print.
Many of the flower
patterns used in dresses are based on the loveliest of floral
forms such as the rose, rosebud and the peony. There is something about the
rose and these abundantly petalled flowers that the human spirit loves.
Folkloric looks use techniques which reflect their heritage.
They also often rework costume history elements found in traditional folk costumes.
Sometimes whole garments have floral decoration, at other
times just bodice fronts, ribbon bands or ties hint at roses.
This season flowers have moved from dresses to outwear and coats,
this gives an opportunity to use roses as appliqué contrast fabrics. Some
designers have also used colourful yarns in felted boiled wool and
Both of the dresses, left and centre below, have impressive
floral embroidery on them. The dress far right has a beaded
floral border. Monsoon have more dresses, blouse tops, skirts and
tunics with thick lavish detailed embroidery work.
This Monsoon skirt right is another example of original ladies
fashion wear for autumn 2009; richly decorated items such as
these are must-haves for Autumn 2009.
Far Right - Monsoon Akira Skirt £75/€127 Eire - Monsoon
Christmas 2009 - October - Daywear.
Below Left - Monsoon Black Rosa Tunic £95/€161 Eire Monsoon
Autumn/Winter 2009 - Embroidered Occasionwear.
Below Centre - French Connection Flower Dress - TBC.
Below Right - Floral Bead Noailles Dress £70/€119 Eire - Monsoon
Christmas 2009 Due October - Fusion Collection.
These six floral dresses below are from the UK high
street and all priced between £38 and £95. The top three dresses
show life size and cabbage rose blooms. Each dress is very
different to its neighbour, and each feels modern and
Above Left - Phase Eight Autumn Winter 2009 - Rosie Dress
Above Centre - Brown Per Una Floral Prom Dress T62 1420H -
£75.00, Sizes: 8-20 Reg/Long. In Store: October - Marks & Spencer
Per Una Autumn 2009. Marks & Spencer are teaming this centre
brown rose print dress with their Per Una velvet coat.
Above Right - Ivory White Maribel Dress £85/€144 Eire
Monsoon Autumn/Winter 2009 - Occasionwear.
African and Eastern
approaches to floral dress fashion create stylised versions of
simplified prints, or single floral motif forms. Single motifs
are generally so big they dominate a print and dictate that the
garment be cut a specific way to show the flower form to best
advantage. The floral form can be print as in the centre red
rose Yumi dress below or as stylised appliqué or meandering
Above Left -
Jane Norman AW09 Collection - Chinese flower dress, £45.
Above Centre - Yumi 2 in 1 Printed Flower Dress Style £45 at Very AW09 Clothing & Footwear.
Above Right - Unique Boutique One Shoulder Fan Dress £175
- Very AW09 Clothing & Footwear.
Other popular floral dress features include
country flowers such as daisies and forget-me-nots; you will
also see in autumn winter 2009 a total
contrast of exotic flowers such as lilies or orchids. Small flower
are known under names such as dainty, dimity, ditzy,
or dolly mixture floral prints to coin size flowers.
Both ditsy prints and cabbage bloom roses are ideal for a tea
dress, perfect for that afternoon when a woman wants a soft feminine look for a dreamy
For some people the idea of a whole dress covered with
flowers is a step too far, too girly and too much in the same
way they find colour blocking too overpowering. A blouse can add
that fashionable floral dimension without feeling a garden has
overtaken your wardrobe. A floral top is especially suited to
those who have proportionately mismatched hips to upper torso,
and if need be, it can be softened with a toning jacket or
knit, so that just a hint of flora is visible. But methinks
these tops are far too pretty to hide with a cover-up!
Above Left - Monsoon Christmas 2009 - November - Leola Blouse
£65 / €110 Eire - Main Range.
Above Centre - Monsoon Purple Celia Top £55/€93, Eire Monsoon
Autumn/Winter 2009 - Occasionwear.
Above Right - Republic Miso Floral Wing £16.99 Autumn
Winter 2009 Republic Womenswear Miso.
For special occasions
Brocade is the first choice for
opulence in material, and is the stuff of luxury floral looks.
The subtle, but cleverly intricate jacquard weave plays on the threads
which are so often self colour. Often more than one coloured thread
is used to create depth and richness. This creates extra textural interest within the pattern fabric.
Right - Dior Rose Brocade Coat.
The concept of matching coats and dresses, or matching jackets
and dresses has been a growing trend. The matching jacket coat
and dress is one of the most useful of outfits for what to wear
problem occasions, and the high street retailers have been
inspired by runway shows.
This M&S brocade dress and coat shown below left is a wonderful
high street buy, perfect for a special event. To the right the
Marni dress and coat are accessorized with heavy textured floral
form jewellery. This was a directional jewellery look which the
high street has been quick to follow.
Above Left - Marks & Spencer Per Una Antique Jacquard Dress and
Coat Autumn/Winter 2009 - Dress T62 1451H, £59.50 Sizes:
8-20, Coat T62 0103F, £89.50 Sizes: 8-20.
Left and Centre Left - Marni Autumn 2009 Rose Brocade Catwalk
Dress and Coat.
Flowers can also stand proud when
added as surface decoration, sequin and beading embellishment,
embroidery or appliqué. Much of the texture is impressionist,
but gives the clear feeling that the onlooker is viewing floral
Above Left - Aquascutum Penelope Cashmere Top.
Above Centre - Detail of Aquascutum Penelope Cashmere Top.
Above Right - Graeme Black Catwalk Outfit AW2009.
Thick materials, leather, suede and crisp fabrics work well
with three dimensional floral forms on dress. Leather, knit,
crochet and felted wool are especially suited to the technique
of creating flower forms.
In hat making, organza, pineapple material and Sinamay straw all
lend themselves well to soft sculpted effects.
Graeme Black has employed a similar technique in this
gorgeous mini prom bustier dress below. The floral form has also
moved onto accessories and I fell for this David and Scotti
leather berry coloured bag with its abstract appliqué forms and
it became my personal must-have 'it' bag of Autumn 2009.
Above Right - David and Scotti Handbag Detail.
Above Left and Centre - Graeme Black Catwalk Outfit AW2009 - Graeme Black Appliqué Detail.
So it is not just on clothing that flowers
appear, they also adorn accessories, home furnishings, personal items and favourite household
retro pieces. All such items please when covered in floral pattern.
See more of these on the accessory page.
Copyright of images courtesy of Prshots, IFTF,
NEXT, Swarovski, Aquascutum, Monsoon, Republic, French
Connection, Accessorize, Matalan, Dorothy Perkins, Marks &
Spencer, Hobbs, Dior, Jane
Norman, Very, Phase Eight and ASOS.
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