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Patterns in Fashion: v. Floral

  • Exotic floral and bird patterned silks originated from China in the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) and came to Europe through trade, becoming popular as part of the Oriental trend in fashion in the late nineteenth Century.

  • Exquisite floral lace from Venice grew in popularity in Europe in the fifteenth Century.

  • Heavy ornate textiles from the Islamic period (early seventeenth Century) included intricate depictions of tulips, pomegranates and rosebuds.

  • Block-printed floral chintz from India, laid over shiny cotton, were imported by British and Dutch merchants in the seventeenth Century and were eventually mass produced more cheaply in Europe in the mid-eighteenth Century.

Floral Patterns in Fashion

  • Delicate and pretty roses, carnations and daisies were embroidered onto silk brocade in eighteenth Century European fashions.

  • William Morris, of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late nineteenth Century, that emphasised naturalistic forms, used the sunflower in his designs for Morris & Co. The print was used in fabric and interior decoration. Morris & Co prints resurged in fashion in the late 1960s as part of the 'Flower Power' movement, which emphasised values of nature, peace and love, as well as old-fashioned Edwardian values.

  • Kontiki fashions of the late 1940s/early 1950s, inspired by the Southern Tropics, made hibiscus and tropical patterns popular, particularly on men's Hawaiian shirts and women's dresses and sarong-style skirts. In 'Blue Hawaii' (1961) Elvis Presley memorably wore Aloha shirts under his tropical garlands - 'lei'.

  • Laura Ashley brought floral print back into mainstream fashion in the late 1970s with her Victoriana-inspired, modest and dreamy dresses.

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