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Fantasy Flora


Artwork by Zandra Rhodes for Valentino

I recently saw images from the Valentino Spring/Summer 2017 fashion show and was intrigued by the unusual designs of palm trees and cacti. Turns out these prints and embroideries were created by Zandra Rhodes for Valentino. Valentino’s designer Pierpaolo Piccioli commissioned Rhodes to design prints based on Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” It is an exciting collaboration between a venerated fashion house and a legendary textile & fashion designer.


Zandra Rhodes and Valentino, Spring/Summer 2017
Artwork by Zandra Rhodes













These patterns are a bit of a departure for the look of Valentino but not for Zandra Rhodes. Rhodes’ archive of textile designs is supremely unique, featuring her squiggly interpretations of cacti and spiky flowers which she introduced in the 1970’s. (I will be doing a more in-depth post on Zandra Rhodes soon.)

The cacti and palm trees in the Valentino show got me thinking about other textile designs of strange or unusual flowers and foliage. The textile landscape for fashion and interiors is dominated by traditional florals such as roses, hydrangea, tulips, etc. But lately I’ve noticed more designers creating patterns with less conventional flora – there’s a trend of using more native plants such as succulents and cacti, and more humble flowers such as geraniums. Perhaps they are inspired by the Scandinavian textiles of the past which are known for their use of less “pretty” vegetation. Here is a selection of some new and some old…


“Cactus Flower”, Commune for Christopher Farr Cloth


“Collage” by Wolf Bauer, Knoll Textiles 1967


“Agave Americana” by Lake August


“Tistlar” by Dagmar Loden, 1949


“Mistral” by Josef Frank


“Las Palmas”, Clarence House


“Kejsarkrona” by Arne Jacobsen, 1942


“Merian Palm”, Timorous Beasties


“Exotic Chinz” by Kazumi Yoshida for Nest Magazine, 2001

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