Gardens in Garments

The sudden return to flowers in fashion at the turn of the season is quite predictable. The sombre heady colours of the colder months are replaced with light floaty floral prints making way for easy breezy warmer months. Predictable they may be, there is nothing more springier in my step then to be able to slip into a lighter dress that reminds me of the cuttings on my dining table or the well groomed blooms in my neighbour’s garden. Unfortunately, British weather hasn’t dictated we do that just yet, so I write this with my knits still on and my feet as close to the heating as possible.

I’m quite excited by the way flowers are being used by designers across the world this year. There is quite an eclectic mix of approaches and it’s certainly as far away from the cookie cutter daisy prints and chintz of years gone by. Designers have either turned towards botanical illustrations for inspiration and brought a sense of humour into this aesthetical sensibility with fun diagrams, annotations and often Andy Warhol-esque prints.  Whilst others, have wondered deeper into the green and have been inspired by gardens, wild flowers, the delicacy of small flowers or the beauty of the foliage which frame these blooms. Often these images have been reconstructed into new executions of beauty, with some designers taking their flowers apart and creating something quite exquisite – transforming garments into works of art.

Take Valentino’s focus on illustrated blooms ‘which grow on you’, and place it next to Markus Lupfer’s collection of youthful garments where flowers are printed in a collage style, almost like the Tumblr’s and Pinterest blogs many share these inspirations on and compare them to Preen’s parquet inspired layered dresses where the juxtaposition of dainty florals against black geometric patterns is fresh and innovative… and you’d be forgiven for assuming you’re a nymph living in a forest of flower ambassadors, haha.

Being quite a keen gardener and lover of flowers and all things ‘planty’, this annual reoccurring theme which saturates every store on your local high street, is quite welcome in my opinion. And it’s not just the shops that are really creating a dialogue about these inspirations – two weeks ago, the Garden Museum in London opened an exciting exhibition titled ‘Fashion & Gardens’.

It’s the first exhibition to explore the relationship between fashion and garden design, from the age of Queen Elizabeth I to the catwalks of London Fashion Week 2014.  Curated by writer, historian and Garden Museum Trustee Nicola Shulman, Fashion & Gardens features designers Valentino, Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy and Christopher Bailey.  Alexandra Shulman, Editor at British Vogue summed it up perfectly –  “Fashion and gardens are an irresistible mix. So many designers have been inspired by gardens through the centuries and this exhibition is a fascinating illustration of how nature has influenced both how our clothes have looked and how they have been worn over the years.”  This inspiration is clearly one that continues today. The Garden Museum team behind the exhibition were keen to really communicate and explore this message and phrased it quite beautifully – ‘Like gardeners working in their gardens, the modern fashion world follows a seasonal cycle, always looking ahead to the next season, trying to anticipate the changes of light, temperature, mood and scale that await at the turn of the year.  Both gardens and dress aim to bring a sense of occasion to a season’.

The exhibition is on until April 2014. For more information visit > http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/page/fashion-and-gardens

Observing the way in which this theme is interpreted across the world with cultural influences is always  quite fascinating. I particularly love how Sabyasachi was able to bring the floral trend into his bridal collection in 2013 with hand embroidered stark white roses and ivy stitched on black fabric almost as if organically growing up the dresses or across your arms. In addition to this, his soft prints and sequined florals inspired a whole army of designers in India to produce printed floral saris and lenghas. I feel these trends have now translated into 2014 as more then seasonal shifts, but as a real effort to bring a certain artistic and craft focused sentiment into these garments. With Mexican influences across the catwalk, models are sporting huge floral head pieces, and flowers on a basic shirt collar captured through embroidery has never felt so sexy… This wonderfully colourful aesthetic in the fashion world is definitely one I always look forward to seeing develop every year.

Enjoy the gardens in your garments this year 🙂

© 2014  Shroomantics ~ Rahima Begum

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About shroomantics

Artist, Activist, Maker, Thinker, Creator, Shaker, Nature Lover :) Join my creative journey at shroomantics.wordpress.com

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