From Abstract to Floral – The Evolution of Patterns

Paris Fashion Week just came to an end and even though all designers came up with very distinct collections, we noticed one recurrent trait: they all showcased at least one floral look. It seems like the whole geometric abstract patterns’ trend from the early 2010s is over. Here’s a closer look at the recent evolution of patterns in fashion.

Comme des Garçons Fall 2016 - Credit: Yannis Vlamos
Comme des Garçons Fall 2016 – Credit: Yannis Vlamos

Fashion has become such a fast-paced industry that it is hard to keep track of all the shows, collections and trends. This is why we decided to take a step back to have an overview of the last few years. Obviously, a lot of different factors have changed, such as the introduction of sports outfits and sneakers on the runway. However, one particular aspect caught our attention this time: patterns. Indeed, despite the diversity of the collections showcased at Fall 2016 Paris Fashion Week, pretty much all designers opted for floral prints at some stage. Flowers have always had their place in fashion, so there’s nothing revolutionary about Comme des Garçons, Kenzo, and Miu Miu showcasing floral prints on the runway. However, what is noteworthy is the transition from bright abstract figures to dull flowers in just a few years.

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Dior Fall 2011 © Yannis Vlamos – Memphis furniture

Do you remember Dior Fall 2011 collection? Purple skirts, funky prints, green patches on the models’ eyebrows, yellow cubes in their hair… The whole collection screamed the 80s. This was the beginning of a long series of pop-arty collections that inspired established fashion houses in the likes of Chanel and Mugler. But where do these strange patterns come from? The answer is: Memphis.

What is Memphis?
Memphis is a movement from Milan that revolutionised architecture in the 80s. It was founded by Ettore Sottsass and is characterised by flashy colours associations and random geometric figures. Ettore Sottsass’s funky furniture has been described as loathed, bizarre, misunderstood, and even as “a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price.” You hate it or you love it, but there is no doubt Memphis established a unique vision of ‘New Design’. Just for the anecdote, the name ‘Memphis’ was inspired by Bob Dylan’s famous track Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.


Enough about architecture, let’s get back to fashion. Memphis’ patterns and shapes have served as inspiration for a lot of fashion designers. Dior was the first one to dare paying tribute to the Milanese extravagant designs thirty years later. You’d have to be blind not to notice the striking similitudes between Memphis’ signature and the Fall/Winter 2011 Dior haute couture collection.

Dior Fall 2011

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Dior wasn’t the only one to get inspired by Sottsass’s quirky designs. Even last year, these forms were still paraded in collections by Givenchy, Yves Saint-Laurent, Raf Simons, Mugler or Bernhard Willhelm. Here are a few Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer collections designed between 2011 and 2015 that clearly feature Memphis characteristics.

Back to here and now. If you browse through the Fall 2016 Paris Fashion Week’s pictures, you will see nothing of the funky 80s motifs anymore. The palette has come from bright vivid colours like red, blue, green and yellow to dull shades of beige, brown and dark blue. Most collections feature united colours. Nevertheless, pretty much each designer showcased at least one floral silhouette. Here are this season’s Paris Fashion Week’s flower power looks…