Prints are moving out of their ugly phase and heading straight for pretty. The Prada-inspired mismatched colorations and repetitive geometrics have reached their saturation point. Enter the flower. Enter opulence and Eastern influences.

Floral prints in all permutations should prove to be one of the hottest trends at both PrintSource and InPrints, two important trade shows featuring original artwork for prints for the women’s, men’s and children’s wear markets. Both shows enjoyed a three-day run in New York, Jan. 21-23.

Textile Photo Textile Photo

At Inprints, trend forecaster Lee Golde sees the return of femininity and romance in the form of a bouquet of floral offerings. Roses, violets, hyacinths and “sensual, opulent blooms” figure heavily in the season. Abundant bouquets with entwined branches and vines, airy floral and willow leaf sprays and dainty flowers on sheers, lace, plaids and ginghams also play a big part in the botanical extravaganza.

At New York-based THE COLORFIELD Design Studio, exhibiting at Inprints, representative Adam Read believes in the importance of florals. “Flowers are big this Spring [’98 season]. They will be more viney, bouquets, blossoms and branches, leaves, layering of imagery, washed-out lingerie in feeling. [They are] painterly and abstract as well as traditional.”


At LONDON PORTFOLIO, also exhibiting at Inprints, design director Debbie Taylor sees the season encompassing “a lot of florals, in many different ways. Lingerie and romantic stories are important, and we’re layering florals on florals,” she says. “Also, we’re doing florals on textured paper to imitate the texture in fabrics.

Embroidery–another influence Taylor believes has gained importance–is incorporated into the season’s floral trend as well. “We’re doing embroidered florals on chiffon, lace embroidery looks and watercolor florals with embroidered florals on top,” Taylor explains.

KALEIDOSCOPE, a design studio showing at PrintSource, is banking on florals to provide a top-selling trend. “I know it sounds redundant, but beautiful florals are important this season,” explains creative director Debbie Rudoy. “They can be anything from things falling on top of one another to sheer watercolors and tonals in medium to large scale. Not ditsy at all.” Floral colorations range from blues to roses and Bordeaux, all in medium to deep tones. “I don’t have a strong feeling about brights,” Rudoy adds.

Robert DiMauro, creative consultant at Ellen Sideri Partnership, a forecasting service providing trend seminars at PrintSource, expects pinks to accompany the strong floral story. “Softly feminine pinks, aged pinks, potpourri, cosmetic and sepia-tinted pink colorations are an important element of the floral story,” he reports. DiMauro also believes strongly in “the whole purple story,” going so far as to identify mauve as a “new neutral.”

Another direction DiMauro contends is making an impact is opulence–“opulence of quality, magnificent artisanship and…things that aren’t made anymore,” he explains. Included are influences reminiscent of the ’20s as well as Asian influences ranging from Japanese minimalism to Chinese exuberance.

Geometrics are reinterpreted in these trends, but the look is moving away from the prevailing ’60s and ’70s, Prada-esque versions. “There are geometrics that come from the ’50s and ’20s,” DiMauro explains. “As the season moves forward, they are more intellectual and sophisticated.”

Rudoy of Kaleidoscope notes the shift in the geometric story as well. “The Prada thing is dead. Ugly is out,” she states emphatically, adding that geometrics are showing up in a new way in a group she calls Zanzibar, which is all about ethno-primitive looks and “multicultural” ethnics. Geometrics here often show up teamed with florals. “There’s a lot of repetition and a lot of stripe patterning. There are rich, spicy colors,” she reports.

Like DiMauro, Taylor of London Portfolio believes in the ’20s influence and more subtle geometrics as well as the Asian influence “in a big way.” Chinese prints, such as those in blue Ming porcelain, will be important, as will prints with Japanese influence.

Rudoy is also interested in paisleys. “It’s more like sari paisleys, bordering the whole ethnic thing that we see happening,” she says.

The “ethnic thing,” according to Lee Golde, is a global affair. There are Japanese ikats and dense microgeometric Jacquards as well as modern “Afro-tribal graphics.” Indian raj-inspired looks, Victorian-era summer paisleys on sheers with embroidery and beads, madras plaids and flat wood-block paisleys also make an appearance. And then there are the cross-cultural influences, with Victorian chinoiserie and Indochine a la francaise. Look for paintbrush bamboo leaves, lotus blossom branches, Ming porcelains and embroideries to come to the fore, Golde says.

At Colorfield, chinoiserie and ethnic prints emerge as two distinct trends. Its “China Doll” group conjures up images of “Suzy Wong, bamboo leaves, blossom branches and leaf Jacquards,” according to representative Adam Read, while the studio’s ethnic prints are all about “dusty colors, a slightly folk feeling, hippie harem, tiles, madras and Morocco.”