I've had this this tweet from M. Lagerfeld on ice in anticipation of writing about florals. While I don't agree with his assessment, Karl got me thinking about what combinations of floral pattern plus silhouette work for ladies who are not kids. Florals are tricky. If you can imagine a particular floral looking adorable in a child's size then keep pushing those hangers. Choose a sweet floral in a style that is too girly or Mad Men-retro and it's easy to look crazy (and matronly). Floral and mini lengths are a no if you don't want to look like you are clutching at youth. Not to mention that minis are currently in remission. Fashion loves longer lengths and this trend is only just beginning.
So what works? Simple silhouettes. Longer lengths ( at least knee length). Abstract florals with a modern-art sensibility. Black or dark backgrounds that look sophisticated and not saccharine. (Left- Right) Karl Lagerfeld's take on florals at Chanel combines an explosion of camelias with abstract clouds for evening. Computer designed florals animate Cacharel's silk tee and pants with a hip, op-art sensibility that looks right on city streets. Carolina Herrera's blown-up daisy print on black worn with a white shirt is a blue-chip-chic combination firmly rooted in reality. DKNY's mid-sized floral is as simple as an elongated tee shirt and the slimming property of a uniformly-sized, repeat pattern is a bonus. And note the sandals. They have presence which is the right counterpoint for a strong print.
And now for what doesn't work. Light backgrounds plus retro prints equals a resort or country club vibe that seldom works anywhere except at resorts and country clubs. (Left to Right) The sixties- irony of Dolce and Gabbana's wallpaper floral suit might translate as cheeky if you are under 25 but frumpy if you are not. The Heroines of the Prairie look from Anna Sui is for young things in the first blush of grunge. And the lunch-at-the-club look of Milly's floral dress and capris is an all too common trap for ladies of a certain age who are drawn to the kind of 'fun' prints they loved in college and in their twenties. The stylist for this show tried in vain to toughen-up things with glasses, turbans and statement necklaces lifted from Prada's and Marnie's playbooks but take away the window dressing and the patterns look more frumpy than fun. A woman is guaranteed to look upholstered in a pair of poppy printed capris.