Big Florals – Chintz Fabric

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.

Princes Grace Roses by Carlton Varney
Princes Grace Roses by Carlton Varney
Field Poppies by Greeff Fabrics

 

Delphinium by Rose Cumming
Delphinium by Rose Cumming

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.

 

The Greenbrier, Dorothy Draper
The Greenbrier, Dorothy Draper

 

Dorothy Draper
Dorothy Draper

 

Billy Baldwin
Billy Baldwin

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.

 

Tom Sheerer
Tom Sheerer

 

Boxwood by Cowtan & Tout
Boxwood by Cowtan & Tout

 

Mario Buatta, Architectural Digest 2013
Mario Buatta, Architectural Digest 2013

 

Pyne Hollyhock Print by Schumacher
Pyne Hollyhock Print by Schumacher

 

Rhododendron by Scalamandre
Rhododendron by Scalamandre

 

Design by Angelo Donghia from the book Decoration U.S.A., 1965
Design by Angelo Donghia from the book
Decoration U.S.A., 1965

 

Liberty of London

 

Liberty of London

 

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, Carlton Varney

 

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.

 

Bill Blass dress, 1995
Bill Blass dress, 1995

 

Skirt by Andrew Gn, Vogue
Skirt by Andrew Gn, Vogue

 

Prada
Prada

 

Prada
Prada

 

Dress by Luisa Beccaria, British Vogue
Dress by Luisa Beccaria, British Vogue

 

Dresses by Oscar de la Renta for Balmain, photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Vogue 1997
Dresses by Oscar de la Renta for Balmain, photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Vogue 1997

 

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.

 

Rose Cumming
Rose Cumming

 

Interior by Tom Sheerer with Lee Jofa's Hollyhock Chintz
Interior by Tom Sheerer with Lee Jofa’s Hollyhock Chintz

 

Guest bedroom in Oscar de la Renta's home in Santo Domingo
Guest bedroom in
Oscar de la Renta’s home in Santo Domingo

 

Carlton Varney

 

 

 

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