It’s been eight years since the Fashion & Gardens exhibition was held at the Garden Museum in London. I didn’t attend this event, which was a pity. I have now, however, aquired the relevant exhibition journal, compiled by Nicola Shulman. It provides for some interesting reading.
The exhibition involved extensive background research, using the Victoria & Albert museum’s library, as a primary resource. As a lead curator, Nicola, was looking for “occasions when fashion consciously engaged with developments in horticulture and botany, or where the garden has responded to clothes” from the age of Queen Elizabeth I to present day. Having analysed research findings four main themes emerged; decoration, landscape, colour theory and garden maintenance.
The decoration theme argues that textile pattern, not flowers was the first common ground of fashion and gardens. Landscape is about exploring how the design of English Landscape gardens encouraged a change into a more comfortable fashion style. Colour theory suggests that the Victorian craze for bedding plants in combination with new textile dye production contributed to a fashion of bright colours. And how this trend faded away into white. Literally. Garden maintenance briefly investigate ways gardens were made fit for well-dressed visitors.
Of the four themes I would say that today printed textiles with floral motifs is the most tangible. There is no fashion season winter, spring, summer nor autumn that doesn’t feature floral prints. They are attractive to fashion wearers and also offers a seemingly endless source of variation for designers. I’d like to argue that this will always be the case.
The said exhibition featured designs from Valentino and Alexander McQueen to Philip Treacy and Christopher Bailey. Of his Spring/Summer 2014 collection Bailey apparently commented “I wanted this idea of an English rose garden. There are all these very dusky, gentle, soft colours and then all of a sudden you’ll see a spiky, very red rose in the middle of it.” Eight years later, designers keep on coming up with floral interpretations, here are some examples.
Asos Edition oversized v-neck maxi dress with ruffle in neon floral print
Knit dress from Gabriela Hearst
Denim with floral motif by Kenzo