Dark Notes – Menswear’s New Florals for Spring 2014

John Ersing

John Ersing is a copywriter and journalist based in New York City. With clients spanning luxury fashion, beauty, and lifestyle, he has written editorial for HYPEBEAST, The International Design Times, and the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week website, among others. @jersing

Meryl Streep (or should I say Miranda Priestly) said it best in The Devil Wears Prada with her exasperated and sarcastic sentiment “florals for spring… groundbreaking”. When menswear first started exhibiting the same boldness in floral prints for spring collections as womenswear has always done, the effect was parallel: bright, fun, and carefree. Whether it’s paisley or a more tropical vibe, menswear florals conjured the same on-vacation, delicate feeling that prints did for the ladies. But not anymore.

The Spring 2014 collections gave a whole new personality to florals for men—one that demanded to be taken seriously. Streamlined silhouettes, sharp cuts in suits, and straight-laced design complemented, rather than contrasted, these new florals that skewed darker and more sophisticated overall. Florals prove now to be an unexpected addition to a work wardrobe or special-occasion ensemble rather than a frivolous, hackneyed motif.

From Tom Ford to Topman, plenty of designers showing menswear jumped on board with pared-down prints featuring flowers and foliage. The former showed beautifully rendered flowers on crisp blazers and trousers, paired with solid-colored garments as a pop of something interesting, it read more “fine art” than “fun-in-the-sun”. Topman offered up Wild West aesthetics featuring floral embroidery splashed across the chest. Valentino gave a watercolor effect to a print of daisies and greenery, and when paired with the rest of their Spring 2014 menswear offering, the usually chipper flower suddenly seemed macabre. Even Raf Simons found a way to incorporate a dark floral note in his pop art-celebratory collection, by working in a print that looked inspired by Andy Warhol’s poppies.

Rag & Bone employed a greyscale floral print into a jacket with a high collar, tailored shorts, a short-sleeved button-up and a bucket hat (why are bucket hats a “thing” again, anyway? Were they ever a “thing”? #notclearon). Using a floral added an element of playfulness, but desaturating the color for blacks, white, and greys proved to make the print a little more serious. Brothers Ariel and Shimon Ovadia of burgeoning menswear label Ovadia & Sons also took the monochromatic approach to florals, using Hawaiian-inspired flower prints in both black and white and an ocean blue with grey. No wonder the brothers Ovadia have secured the GQ and CFDA stamp of approval.

Miharayasuhiro_OvadianSons

Shying away from the aforementioned Hawaiian-inspired floral motifs that conjure up images of luaus and beach bonfires, Miharayasuhiro turned out a print reminiscent of baby’s breath in a full spectrum of blues, whites and greys. The beautiful dotwork effect really added something special to the military-inspired cuts of the collection (“Flowers and army—contrary,” commented designer Mihara Yasuhiro). Boundary-pushing brand Sacai utilized a print that read as a cross between Yasuhiro’s delicate blues moment and Raf Simons’ affinity for Warhol’s poppies.

We saw a very different side of florals in menswear for Spring 2014. It’s heartening to see the menswear designers of the world not resting on an old trope in the realm of flower prints and continuing to test out new and different techniques and applications. Not to reinvent the wheel, but to make what’s old new again.

Images: Style.com