Although I am a serious fan of modernism and geometric patterns, I’ve always been drawn to big, retro-looking florals. Some may call them “chintz” but that’s actually a bit of a misnomer as chintz is defined as a glazed cotton fabric. However the word chintz does vividly conjure up the image of ripe bouquets of roses – something you would find on a faded love seat on a country porch or in an English farmhouse.
Big, loose florals have been around forever but were especially popular in the 1950’s. Designers like Dorothy Draper, Rose Cumming and Billy Baldwin created and used some particularly iconic floral designs in their interiors. These designs were bold while also having a romantic, whimsical feeling. There’s a sort of cheekiness to them that I like – and they go so well with a classic awning stripe, trellis, or polka-dot pattern. Think Kate Spade and you get the idea.
Today every home furnishings fabric company has their own version of these florals in their collections – many inspired by traditional textile documents from the 19th century. I’m especially drawn to actual vintage florals from interiors and fashion of the 1950’s and 60’s – cabbage roses on a 50’s cocktail dress or a quilted floral sofa for example.
It’s always a treat to see fashion designers incorporate big florals in their designs, and it seems that they become a trend every few years. But legendary designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass always have these beautiful florals in their collections. They are a timeless pattern that will forever be in style.
Interior designers often use these bold florals to great dramatic effect – covering every surface of a room in the same pattern for maximum impact. Parish Hadley, Colefax & Fowler, and Mario Buatta are all great fans of floral fabrics. And today, designers such as Tom Sheerer, Rita Konig and Carlton Varney often use these types of florals in their work. It is especially refreshing to see these nostalgic inspired fabrics in less traditional interiors where they are mixed with modern furniture or accessories for an unexpected twist. It also gives the traditional florals a fresh infusion and shows that they can still be relevant and not just something your grandmother might have used.