Photo:Launchmetrics Spotlight/ Ludovic De Saint Sernin; SZYMON BRZÓSKA/THE STYLE STALKER; Courtesy of Loewe; @ninasandbech; Courtesy of Sandy Liang; @deborabrosa
Mother Nature may move on a season-by-season clock, but fashion does not. It takes mere weeks, if not less, for a fashion trend to grow in popularity, only to rot out of favor even faster. One could say that following this rapid cycle has led many picky fashion people (myself included) to become jaded. When you've been following trends for years, nothing ever really feels new. And in some ways, nothing in fashion really is because it's constantly drawing inspiration from the past. Still, even with that intellectual awareness, it's not uncommon for a fashion person to feel overcome with indifference to "dated clothing." There's no better example of this than florals.
You don't have to work in fashion to know how fraught the perception around floral prints is because it's permeated pop culture. Simply look to film characters like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, who mocks them blithely as proof. While she's undoubtedly a fictional persona, it's not an exaggeration to assume many fashion people have found florals unexciting for some time—until now. With the release of spring/summer 2023 collections, we saw florals outgrow their formerly "basic" iterations and take on a new form.
No longer are the sentiments of apathy toward floral clothing dominating the conversation. Instead, we've seen florals surge in popularity among the fashion set. But how exactly have florals turned from cliché to cool? In search of that answer, I spent hours scouring runway collections and Instagram to narrow down four ways florals in every form are being styled by the fashion set right now. Plus, I shopped out the most stylish botanical-inspired pieces on the market. Consider this your guidebook on how to wear florals in a way that feels fresher than newly cut grass.
1. Floral-Appliqué Pieces
One of the ways we've seen botanical-inspired fashion blossom is through floral-appliqué pieces. But to say this trend went viral overnight would be far from true. The seed was planted for this trend last fall when spring/summer 2023 collections were released. From Prada to Chanel to Rodarte, various collections featured pieces with 3D rosettes on the runway, almost as if the idea had pollinated from one fashion house to another.
But rosettes didn't just crop up in high-street collections. Since then, we've seen them appear on every type of garment and sold at every kind of retailer. If that wasn't enough to sell you how 3D floral appliqués have flourished, scroll through social media for a few minutes. It can't be denied how quickly this trend has grown on the fashion set, as it's been worn in every form, from appliqué dresses to floral-shaped shirts to outerwear adorned with brooches. In a way, floral appliqués have become the prime example of how to wear florals in a more fashion-forward way—simply style one piece with your staples and you'll stun.
2. Floral Accessories
Photo:Launchmetrics Spotlight/ Ludovic De Saint Sernin; Michaela Efford for WWW/@venswifestyle; @annelauremais; @ninasandbech
In addition to appliqué clothing, we've seen another version of florals budding up on social media: accessories. While there are always a few buzzy bags, shoes, and jewelry items each season, it seems that floral-shaped accessories have overtaken the field since last year. That surge in popularity can be attributed to just how pretty versions of this trend are—try looking at Loewe's sandals that resemble real-life flowers and not being awestruck!
It's not just Loewe's rose or tulip sandals that can sell you on this trend; we saw everything from anthurium-shaped jewelry at Ludovic de Saint Sernin to rosette-shaped hair ties at Sandy Liang at their S/S 23 shows. The versatility alone in all the ways you can wear this trend makes it easy to adopt. But possibly the most compelling rationale is simply that they fulfill that universal childhood desire to pluck a flower from the ground and adorn oneself with it. Except in this case, no real flowers are harmed in the process.
Call it a cross-pollination of popular trends, but there's no doubt that previously popular DIY-inspired pieces have impacted the return of florals. Besides the aforementioned appliqués, we've seen a rise in floral pieces that center on artisanal techniques like crochet, embroidery, and beading. That craft-inspired element has been spotted both on and off the runway—e.g., we've seen crochet floral chokers bubble up as a micro-trend among the fashion set. And on the runway, we saw knitted crochet floral gowns in the spring/summer 2023 collections of multiple designers, including Roberta Einer, Staud, and Alejandra Alonso Rojas.
But it's not just knitted pieces that have gone all-natural. There are also beaded pieces. We saw gowns adorned with florals made from beads at Cult Gaia and beaded flower-shaped jewelry at Simone Rocha. If that weren't enough, we saw mesh ballet flats and leather bags embroidered with flowers at Khaite, proving that this trend is in full bloom.
4. Good Ole Floral Prints
Hear me out; floral prints can feel fresh. It might seem counterintuitive that this print could even remotely feel cool again—especially considering all the other ways florals have been reimagined—but here we are. Rather than shying away from the notion that somehow this print is "dated," we saw designers return to the roots of this trend by drawing inspiration from the past. For example, floral-print gowns at Fe Noel and Giambattista Valli felt as if they were plucked right from the Regency era. In contrast, other smaller labels took the sultrier silhouettes from the early '90s and '00s and adorned them with floral patterns to make them feel fashion-forward.
Sure, floral prints aren't the most groundbreaking trend, but they are ever evolving. No matter how often we say that florals are somehow "out," they always manage to grow on us again—sometimes in new forms or old ones. Whether they come in the form of a print, appliqué, or anything else, it's safe to say that florals are going to wither away anytime soon. If anything, we'll simply find new ways to wear them again.