Flower Power

Florals were, along with checks, last year’s biggest print trend, having been pushed on the runways for both SS13 and AW13. And even though it was not a pattern widely embraced by the everyday male – perhaps due to its feminine connotations – its high fashion appeal shows no sign of wilting as designers continue to cultivate flowers and blooms in their SS14 collections.

However, perhaps in an effort to encourage wider adoption, florals have taken a on a slightly darker, more masculine air this season. The print’s stereotypically light and delicate nature has been replaced by a stronger, edgier and altogether more rebellious approach that has led to wonderfully emotive descriptions such as ‘Aloha Noir’, ‘The Dark Side of the Bloom’ and ‘Fleurs du Mal’.

The Guardian summarised it best in a recent article: “With dark blooms and twisted stems taking root at Gucci, Prada, Saint Laurent, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Dries Van Noten, it’s a trend that looks a lot tougher than you might think.”

On The Runways

Florals were prevalent across all major fashion weeks, with the majority of collections incorporating the print in some guise. Designers such as Dries Van Noten, Gucci and Alexander McQueen were even daring enough create head-to-toe floral looks.

Dries van Noten, in particular, fully embraced the print within his collection, which utilised a wide range of sombre colours that epitomised a darker floral aesthetic.

For instance, the designer applied an all-over floral print to a vest and shorts combination in murky tones of green, white and red, which was paired with a black calf-length jacket complete with a floral print lining.

Van Noten also looked to juxtapose floral prints within his looks, with one key ensemble incorporating purple and black floral shorts, a daisy print t-shirt and a subtle green and black print jacket.

As with any statement pattern, the more successful outfits within the showcase combined floral garments with monochrome separates. For example, in our opinion, the most wearable looks included floral shorts worn with a plain black vest; a beige/brown floral print overcoat paired with a neutral shirt, tie and trousers; and a pair of floral trousers teamed with a navy chunky knit jumper:

The first look sent down the runway at Gucci set a floral precedent, combining a matching t-shirt and skinny trousers combination in a black, white and slate grey floral print.

Showing that floral print needn’t be restricted to the casual side of the wardrobe, the brand later applied the same pattern to a double-breasted suit.

This smarter take on the trend was cemented by a single-breasted suit in an all-over, dark moss green leaf print complete with lighter green and black flowers. The look was accessorised with a black leather backpack, which added a more youthful, whimsical feel to a predominantly formal aesthetic.

Yet the highlight of the showcase came in the form of a chunky-knit jumper where the floral pattern was actually knitted into the garment, creating a 3D effect with raised flowers and stems coming out of the jumper itself – a unique, tactile approach that no other designer attempted:

We couldn’t touch on the dark floral trend without mentioning Prada, where every single look on the runway included the print in some form. And rather than utilising traditionally bold and eye-catching colour palettes, the patterns came in much darker, ferocious tones of burgundy, taupe and black, amongst other shades.

That being said, Prada did take a slightly more light-hearted approach with their luggage and bags, which were adorned with Hawaiian-esque flowers and hula girls.

Yet, even with the inclusion of these prints, the underlying theme and inspiration for the collection was derived from films such as From Here to Eternity, where bright and delicate florals were tainted by darker themes of war and destruction:

For the classicists out there – who feel florals should not be dark and despairing, but bright and appealing – designer collections such as Burberry Prorsum and Ami incorporated more traditional takes on the print.

In particular, Ami, who applied their tropical floral motif to sweatshirts, trousers, shorts and bomber jackets, proved to be the most wearable of all the designer collections – largely thanks to Alexandre Mattiussi pairing these floral pieces with muted, block-colour separates.

In fact, Ami’s tropical floral print is the one most reminiscent of the versions currently available on the high street, where they have often been diluted for a less fashion forward consumer.

Burberry followed suit with a lighter, brighter take on the trend – their micro daisy print being applied to shirts in bold shades of primary green and red:

Fashion Press Reaction

Reaction to the notion of dark florals has proven to be overwhelmingly favourable – from specialist fashion publications to men’s lifestyle magazines to everyday newspapers – and the wider influence on high street collections is testament to the popularity of the trend.

Broadsheet newspaper The Guardian has published several column inches on the prospect of blooms and flowers in menswear, recently including an editorial shoot featuring floral print clothes from designers including Givenchy, Dries van Noten and Saint Laurent. The stark, bleak, colourless backdrop for the shoot perfectly echoed the concept of dark florals.

The Guardian also highlighted the interesting application of dark florals to sports-influenced pieces, which immediately helps give a stereotypically feminine motif a rugged, masculine twist. This concept was compounded by the dark, tapestry-esque florals that were featured and gave rise to the cleverly coined term ‘Aloha Noir’.

In a piece entitled ‘Can Men Wear Florals?’, Assistant Fashion Editor at The Guardian, Simon Chilvers, made the point that florals in menswear have only previously been popularised by bright, tacky Hawaiian shirts and board shorts – so this season’s darker approach represents a modernising of the aesthetic. Esquire supported this argument, writing that the dark floral print influx represents a step away from the cartoonish motifs that have dominated this trend in recent seasons.

Elsewhere, GQ classed floral as “the print of the season”, adding that “it’s time to flower up”. They explain that the masculine appeal of the current floral look is typified by strong silhouettes and a laid-back vibe that is “anything but delicate”. Details magazine agree, with floral print coming in at number two on their list of menswear’s top seven trends for SS14, supported by the selection of dark floral product picks from brands such as Versace, Ami and Etro.

Modern Lookbook Inspiration

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Key Pieces
  • Topman Black Monochrome Floral Skinny Fit Blazer
  • Allsaints Honeycreeper Short Sleeved Shirt
  • Pepe Chino Shorts Straight Fit Floral Print
  • River Island Blazer In Floral Print
  • Topman Indigo Floral Shorts
  • Cayler & Sons Menehune Backpack In Floral Print
  • Edwin Floral College Sweatshirt In Grey
  • Topman Multi Floral Print Sweatshirt
  • River Island Blue Jack & Jones Premium Floral Print Shirt
  • New Look Grey And Peach Floral Bomber Jacket
  • J.crew Printed Cotton Shirt
  • Reclaimed Vintage Floral Tie
  • Gucci Slim-fit Flower-print Cotton-blend Trousers
  • He By Mango Floral Print Piqué Polo Shirt
  • Topman Indigo Tropical Floral T-shirt
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Floral-print Cotton Handkerchief 193086
  • River Island Grey Floral Print Lace Up Shoes
  • J. Crew Sperry Top-sider® For J.crew Cvo Slip-on Sneakers In Printed Chambray
Final Word

The rise of dark florals may seem like an alien concept as we approach summer – a season commonly associated with brighter hues and statement prints – but this edgier take on a traditionally feminine pattern offers a much more wearable and masculine way of incorporating floral motifs into your current wardrobe.

As proven above, the easiest way of doing this is to stick to subdued colour palettes and pair with neutral wardrobe staples, allowing the printed piece to subtly take centre stage.

But as always, we want to hear your opinion – so feel free to leave your thoughts and musings below…