Designers incorporating fall colors after many gray years

Designers incorporating fall colors after many gray years

As we look forward to fall and cooler temperatures, I’ve noticed that the colors of fall flowers for events and the colors of fashion we see in the stores seem to be very similar. That’s not an accident. Fashion often subtly dictates the colors that we use years before we even notice. Colors in our garden, in our “fancy” flower arrangements for weddings and special events, even the colors in our clothing and on the walls of our home, are set into motion years before they look “right” to our eye.

Wedding florists who can obtain any colored flower that we could dream of – for a price – say that the colors for this year are bright golden yellows and Hermes oranges and generally “rich” floral colors. The store windows on my recent trip for lots of window-shopping were following suit. There were racks in store windows with jewel-toned oranges, rich dark oranges and brightest golds. I saw extreme floral patterns on dresses, blouses, scarfs and even men’s ties and socks. Flowers seem to dominate this fall’s fashion lines. All the designers were enjoying color again after years of grays and neutral palates.

A couple of years ago, there was a heavily attended exhibition in London, Fashion and Gardens: Spring/Summer-Autumn/Winter. It reminded us that many of today’s fashion trends have their roots in gardens and what gardeners wore in the early 1700s. Botanical plants shapes and colors put into embroidery on gowns were displayed. Huge hats with shapes like orchids and roses stopped traffic. Bee images were on bonnets. There was heady discussion by speakers about the relationship between fashion and garden design.

We can see lots of direct links between the two. In the early 17th century, gardeners and embroiderers worked from the same patterns. The patterns came from exotic locales like Arabia and the terribly romantic Italian coastline. Louis XIV decided on a “parterre de broderie”— a garden design that was modeled from embroidery. His grounds, with thousands of lush, well-tended plants, emulate the swirls and scrolls of the embroidery piece. Formal gardens of today still often copy the patterns used by the fashion-forward king.

Floral designs on clothing come in and out of vogue. Years ago, ladies who could afford it ordered intricately embroidered dresses that looked just like the gardens outside their doors. The arrival of dyes from India and Africa furthered the “color from the garden” trend. By the mid 1800s, “anyone” could afford boldly colored floral design on their garments, so the rich abandoned color and chose white as the new best color. And guess what? The same thing happened in garden trends. Vivid colors growing outside became passé. Everyone wanted an all white garden.

Gardens continue to influence and inspire fashion. Today’s fashion icons like Christian Dior and Chanel continue to use cues from our outdoor spaces to design gorgeous floral treats for us to wear, or at least dream of wearing.Joette Reger is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. She can be reached at joreger [at] msn [dot] com.