By ALEXIS SWERDLOFF
Designers are predicting an unseasonably warm fall, with vibrant flower prints blooming on everything from hot pants to cocktail dresses.
If one believes that shorter hemlines directly correspond to a booming economy, what then might the prevalence of flower prints in the fall collections indicate? Widespread Seasonal Affective Disorder? Global warming?
“In these austere times, there’s a need for optimism and that can often be communicated through florals,” said Simon Collins, dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons The New School for Design. And although wearing blooms and buds—traditionally reserved for the resort and spring seasons—is considered a fashion faux pas by the no-white-after-Labor-Day camp, flowers popped up in every variety on the runways at Gucci, Miu Miu, Jil Sander and others. “Given fashion’s multicontinental distribution, it’s always sunny somewhere in the world—so the old rules about when and where just don’t seem to apply anymore,” Mr. Collins said. “Also, if you’re feeling rosy in December, then why shouldn’t you wear them?”
The centerpiece of Alber Elbaz’s moody runway show was an oak tree covered in Spanish moss. Adding to the dark but Southern-belle-ish mood were party frocks emblazoned with large English roses set against black satin and cotton.
Designer Riccardo Tisci’s fall collection is an eclectic mishmash of ’50s fetish, wildlife and Hawaiian luau. Leis made out of irises surrounded, in some cases, images of pin-up girls (Mr. Tisci was taken with a series of photos of Bettie Page shot in Hawaii). There were also purple pansy prints and panther-head motifs.
A pattern of wildflowers—daisies, gerbera and calendula—is the focal point Raf Simons’s collection, inspired by a swatch from the legendary French fabric house Bucol. Meant to recall feminine mid-century couture, the duchesse silk florals were created using warp printing—a weaving style developed in Lyon in the early 19th century wherein the print is integrated into the weaving process, creating a blurred effect.
“I feel like no matter what the season,” Chris Benz said, “there is always a place for floral.” For his fall collection, the young designer sprinkled powdery petals—which he describes as “almost like potpourri”—across his crinkle chiffon gowns.
The fall collection of designers Sonia Yoon and Benjamin Channing Clyburn was inspired by the idea of a gothic wedding. The large roses strewn across pants and dresses were meant “to symbolize eternal love,” said Ms. Yoon who was married this past May. They created the roses, she explained, “to look as if they were melting, to permeate with a feeling of sadness and tears of joy.” Ms. Yoon and Mr. Clyburn were so taken with their dripping roses, that they also used them on the show’s invitation.
Based on the overarching theme of modern glamour, Miuccia Prada’s fall collection featured ’40s-inspired frocks adorned with delicate, floating bouquets of daisies, lilies of the valley and dandelions, all embroidered with glimmering sequins.
As Gucci’s 90th anniversary show came to an end, designer Frida Giannini sent out a final flourish of bright scarlet, blue, purple and yellow fabric flowers on boleros, dresses and blouses. The blooms—made from organza petals, chiffon and habotai silk—were hand-painted, hand-cut and individually applied.