Floral Fabrics: An Obsession with Beautiful Blooms

Floral Fabrics: Petals to the Metal
It seems like floral fabrics have been around forever. Your mother and your mother’s mother and probably her mother all rocked this look. How did it get so popular? We’ll take a look at this trend from budding to full bloom and see how it has changed through history.

Budding Floral Fabrics

People have been decorating with flowers for many centuries. But, when did we start decorating our garments with illustrations of these blooms? We can trace the origin of floral designs on fabric back to 12th century China. Fabrics embroidered with flowers and scenes of nature became very popular and quickly spread to other Asian and Middle-Eastern countries. Before long, Japan had caught onto the trend and started incorporating intricate floral embroidery into kimonos.

In China, fabric designs heavily used the peony and the lotus flower. In Chinese culture, the peony is significant as the “king of the flowers”. You can often find it on floral fabrics paired with the phoenix, the “king of the birds”. The lotus flower represents purity and is an important symbol in Buddhism.

Chintz from India

In India, carved wooden blocks were used to create floral the floral print design we know as Chintz. This is a floral design on calico, which was first used at the beginning of the 17th century in India. It quickly became popular in Europe when Portuguese and Dutch traders brought this floral fabric to their home.

In India, you could find mainly find chintz in home decor. But, the Europeans used chintz mostly for fashion. These days, you can still find chintz on western or prairie-style shirts.

Floral Fabrics Spreading through Europe

Once floral fabrics reached Europe, they spread through the countries like wildflowers. In the middle ages and 16th century, floral lace was all the rage. The fanciful and intricate designs were a staple of fashion in Europe during the Renaissance period.

However, as popular as the floral fabric was, it remained difficult to reproduce in Europe. British manufacturers were unable to replicate the process used to create chintz and it was subsequently banned from import to the country.

Bloom of the Industrial Revolution

In 1759, chintz fabric made its return to Europe with the coming of the Industrial Revolution. The laborious process to create these materials would no longer be a factor in production. The beautiful and intricate patterns could be created by machines. Now that the floral fabrics are cheaper and easier to make, they could easily spread to households around the world.

Modern Day Floral Fabrics

Today, floral fabrics are just as popular as they ever were. You’ve probably rocked a floral fabric whether it’s an embroidery, a lace detail or a floral print. It’s a classic statement of beauty and femininity and it’s here to stay.

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