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A garden of garments: Fashion’s a fabulous flower show this spring

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Published : 2014-04-01 20:28
Updated : 2014-04-01 20:28

PHILADELPHIA ― Designers pulled a bunch of pretty, petaled patterns from their graphic arsenals this spring, planting them generously all over sheaths and trousers, jumpsuits and shorts.

The idea, of course, was to get women so excited about the sweet peony prints that they would start shopping well before the first crocuses of spring. The last time flowers were this fashionable was the early ’90s ― so most of our closets had nary a bud. And coincidentally, it also helped that we needed a boost after months of snow and ice.

“It’s so nice that my store is exploding with flowers after such a harsh winter,” said Annette Matczak Tymoski, a co-owner of Intrigue Fine Apparel, a designer boutique in Buckingham, Pennsylvania. “There are so many looks from feminine and sweet to bold and strong.”
A model dons Vioviola Dress, Nicole Miller Artelier, $410, at Intrigue Fine Apparel. ( MCT)

Flowers sprouted all over September’s spring 2014 collection runways: Maison Martin Margiela alternated swatches of tropical greenery with geometric prints, while Stella McCartney fashioned pencil skirts and jumpsuits from fabrics blanketed with monochromatic daisies.

Karl Lagerfeld nestled roses in classic Chanel tweed suits, and Raf Simons’ collection for Christian Dior featured skirts with hot-pink azaleas dancing in accordion pleats.

“I fell in love with the colors of nature,” said Paula Hian, whose collection of knit dresses and jumpsuits featuring rich lavender and navies was inspired by petals under a microscope, which has an explosive effect.

“I didn’t want to use a literal flower. ... I engineered my flower prints so that the purples would bleed into the reds or the oranges would bleed into the blues or you would see an exaggerated stem. The shapes are just so interesting.”

Mother Nature’s palette is why there isn’t just one color for spring, said Sissy Harris, owner of the Peter Kate boutique in Greenville, Del.

Yes, minty pastels are the go-to soft neutral for skinny jeans. But bolder hues also are important this spring ― think radiant orchid, Pantone’s Color of the Year; emerald green; orange; turquoise; and even yellow.

Designers’ latest affection for blooming blossoms is the next chapter in the ongoing mod story for women’s wear.

Three years ago, the industry was daringly colorblocking bright turquoise and pinks, and neutral black and brown, creating a current feel.

The following season, fashion’s buzz phrase was “prints on prints,” pairing patterns like thin pinstripes with fatter chalk stripes.

Next, we recruited texture: Leather and laces were mixed with furs and velvets. Ombre hues became the backdrop to everything. And last spring, we saw the beginnings of perforated fabrics ― perfect for racerback maxi dresses.

And just when you thought mixing prints couldn’t get trickier, along came the florals.

“It’s just so creative,” said Knit Wit’s Ann Gitter, pointing to the work of Clover Canyon’s lead designer, Rozae Nichols, whose spring collection is bursting with flowers and geometric prints.

“My personal favorite are black-and-white geometric print flowers. They are so modern, but there are so many ways to wear different kinds of floral prints together.”

Generally, she said, when you’re mixing florals, one should be bold, and the other should be a bit muted.

But it takes a good eye to pull it off, said Matczak. She carries Nicole Miller’s spring collection featuring frocks in Claude Monetesque watercolor posies, as well as fitted floral jackets and striped skinny pants.

“Talk about an amazing coordination of color, but when done well ― like when a woman pairs the right florals with a leather jacket ― it can tap into that rocker-chic personality.”

The good news: Whether your style is edgy or conservative matchy-matchy, there are enough floral patterns out there to find ones you’ll feel comfortable wearing.

There are oversize hibiscus prints on silken midriff blouses and palazzo pants ― or if the wide-legged pants aren’t your thing, try a pencil skirt. If head-to-toe flowers are too much, opt for a separate in a solid.

Perhaps daintier looks are more your style. Then sheer blouses overrun with tiny poppies or irises are cute layered over tanks and worn with a pastel skinny jean.

Feeling confident about your print-combo skills? Try the floral skinny jean in a washed-out print.

If your budget will allow just one botanical look, pick the sheer blouse. It’s the most versatile. No worries when your wardrobe starts looking like a florist’s. Flowers are more than one-season wonders.

“I’ve already bought some of my fall collection,” Matczak said. “And we’ll continue to see floral dresses and knits.”

Considering the winter we’ve had, getting an extension on spring would be nice.

By Elizabeth Wellington

(The Philadelphia Inquirer)

(MCT Information Services)

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