Something about floral print
When you think of printed fabrics, what pops into your head? Right now, we’ve got floral patterns on the brain, which isn’t surprising considering florals are perhaps the one of the most ubiquitous motiffs in fashion. Inherently beautiful, and available in a million different colors, textures, and styles, most of us likely have at least one floral dress or shirt hanging in the closet.Nowadays florals are a wardrobe staple, but how did the motif become so prevalent?
Certainly they lend a touch of loveliness to a garment, but so can any other type of imagery. Aesthetics are only part of the equation.
Long ago, flowers held deep meaning and symbolism, which people wished to imbue into their clothing. In addition to being a universal symbol of femininity, a “language of flowers” was prevalent in different cultures and time periods, and allowed for diversity in the design of patterns.
The origin of the floral fabric can be found in Asia, where flowers are an integral part of the culture.
In Japan, the chrysanthemum featured heavily in textile motifs, particularly in kimono fabrics. It’s naturally long, slender petals radiated similarly to the sun’s rays, and so the flower became synonymous with the sun, as well as a symbol of the royal family.
One of the most famous floral fabrics, chintz, has its origins in India (handmade in the country from between 1600 and 1800). Chintz, a glazed cotton cloth printed with tiny, multicolored floral motifs, was exported to Europe via Dutch and British merchants during this era. Initially, the British could not figure out how to copy the expensive chintzes, so, in 1680 the fabric was banned from import. By 1759, however, British manufacturers had solved the mystery of production, and were able to print chintzes at a low price. With the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century, textile production increased tenfold, and machine printed chintzes flooded the market and were used extensively in women’s day dresses. When discussing florals, we cannot forget the bold floral silks produced in Japan and China for centuries. It was during the late nineteenth century, however, that European artists began to take notice of the arts of Asia, especially the Impressionists. By depicting Chinese folding screens and Japanese kimono in their paintings, these artists started the vogue for Orientalism which would last in the Occident until the World War II.Fashion fabrics of this era, especially those created in the Art Nouveau style, featured stylized and modern floral motifs inspired by Asian examples.
In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, textile production, particularly floral fabrics, had grown exponentially. Pieces that once could only be created by master craftsmen could now be replicated quickly and easily. This allowed complex motifs such as flowers to be more easily accessible to consumers, and florals’ popularity spread globally.
The motif has been and continues to be stylized in countless ways, and many of these iterations have become iconic looks.
The floral fabrics continue to be an iconic aspect of fashion, from the hibiscuses blooming all over a Hawaiian shirt to the bright, bold prints splashed across a chic DVF wrap dress. This versatile motif is here to stay, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for it!