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Trend report: natural fashion

From bold animal motifs to twists on classic florals, designers are looking to the natural world for inspiration this season. It’s the perfect trend for warmer weather, and while we may be used to florals and animal prints in womenswear, it’s the menswear collections – from Louis Vuitton to Marc Jacobs – that really made an impact for spring/summer 2016

Stephen Doig
Stephen Doig,

From the verdant foliage of the internationally renowned Herrenhäusen gardens in Hanover to Berlin’s sprawling Tiergarten and Munich’s 900-acre Englischer Garten, Germany’s cities burst into life-affirming greenery in springtime. Germany’s parks form a rich part of its city landscapes, all the more striking when they are juxtaposed with gleaming high-rise skyscrapers and sculptural architecture. With spring also heralding a change for our wardrobes, it’s heartening to note that designers are bringing the outside in, infusing our style repertoire with pieces that embrace the botanical and blooming.

Travel the world
Designers often mine the aesthetics of the natural world for the spring/summer season, of course. But what’s remarkable about spring’s offering, across menswear, womenswear and accessories, is the especially exciting, vibrant, fresh interpretation of the natural world.

‘It was about a clash of cultures,’ said Kim Jones backstage at his spring/summer 2016 menswear show for Louis Vuitton. The collection married eastern and western aesthetics. ‘It was about vintage Americana alongside influences from Asia,’ explained Jones. This coming together was expressed by interpreting tropical forms of nature from far-flung, exotic locales. Jones is known as an intrepid traveller, and his designs saw storks swooping over silk bombers and shirting, cherry blossoms erupting into bloom, and capuchin monkeys peering out curiously from bamboo fronds; all to joyous effect. Jones consistently finds new ways to inject life and colour into his men’s collections, an area of fashion that generally veers towards the safe and standard rather than the bold and printed.

Be adventurous
‘I think there’s definitely a push towards vibrant, vivid prints and a greater sense of adventure in how we dress,’ says Bill Prince, deputy editor of British GQ. ‘Botanical prints and imagery of that ilk undoubtedly feed in to that.’ Who needs a tropical trek through the jungle when you can gain a sense of adventure through Kim Jones’s impeccable menswear?

Feel the power of nature
At Gucci, Alessandro Michele continued to revolutionise the menswear landscape with his fluid, feminine designs, interpreted using the power of nature. Embroidered bouquets wound their way up suits, garlands were stitched onto lace around necklines, butterflies fluttered over sweaters and rainbow-bright stems, stalks, petals and stamens were blown up and printed onto suits. It was a similar story at Marc Jacobs, who dappled silk pyjama suits and shirts with blossoms and dashes of leopard print.

Germany joins the nature gang
Germany’s designers were not to be outdone; a host of them joined in the celebration of all things wild and wonderful. At Hugo Boss, the house reimagined flower prints in its womenswear collection, using muted dove and slate tones, a refreshing contrast to polite pastel shades or bold splashes of abstract print. At historical German house Aigner, florals were realised in jacquard, lending them a three-dimensional quality. Creative director Christian Beck, in an innovative move, took his cue from under the sea, with starfish, crabs, tentacles, seaweed and shells picked out in lace. At Jil Sander, men’s shirting and shorts were dotted with tiny blooms, in a rare burst of frivolity for a brand known for its minimalist aesthetic.

Our wardrobes are increasingly technical, not just in their fabrication but in their construction, design and print. This move away from all things sophisticated and city-centric towards the outdoors, nature and animal life perhaps speaks to our desire to connect with that increasingly distant part of the world in some small form. Whatever the reason, these nature-inspired prints and motifs lend a hint of wit and whimsy to even the most standard piece – what could raise more of a smile than a merry capuchin peering out from the undergrowth? Embrace the call of the wild this season. Your wardrobe will thank you.



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