Clothing fabrics and women's apparel with flower print made in Poland between 1958 and 1985.

Flowers, femininity and fashion
The harmonious and symmetrical  structure of flowers, their varied shapes and colours have always inspired artists, craftsmen and designers. No wonder that images of flowers had been present in fashion since ancient times. Although there have been periods in the past when flower patterns decorated men’s and women’s clothes, in the fashion of 20th century floral motifs were assigned mostly to feminine garments. Flowers have always been associated with femininity. Blooming plants with all their subtleness, delicacy and ephemeral beauty symbolize womanhood. The liaisons between flowers and femininity are visible in fashion designing. This exhibition shows a small part of collection gathered by Central Museum of Textiles in Lodz. The printed clothing fabrics and women’s apparel from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s shown the evidence of wide variety of flower patterns and their permanent presence in women’s fashion.
Fabrics with floral prints
How to make cloth "blossom"? By printing flowers on it! In 20th century many textile mills in Poland produced printed fabrics, designed for clothing. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s the botanically inspired prints were widespread in Polish fashion. Generally, women’s dresses were made of cloth decorated with floral patterns. Printed flowers blossomed also on blouses, skirts, swimsuits, nightwear and on accessories such as shawls, scarves and hats.

Before the print is made…
In the beginning there is always a sketch. Before the digital era, 1960 throughout 1980s, printed textiles designs had the form of handmade drawings or paintings.

Wild meadows and exotic gardens
Floral patterns are composed of single flowers, bouquets or sprays of flowers and leaves. Their size varies from tiny motifs scattered on fabric to large images covering whole background. Nature provides an endless repository of flower forms and colours. Designers can choose from small wild flowers (e.g. daisies, violets, forget-me-nots) or more imposing, colourful ones (e.g. roses, camellias, chrysanthemums, dahlias), creating modest or more sophisticated patterns. The designs evoke an image of a wild meadow or resemble a garden full of exotic blooming plants. The queen of the garden (and the queen of the floral prints on textiles as well) is, undoubtedly, rose. Roses of all sizes, red, pink or of any other colour decorate printed clothing fabrics and as a pattern they are timeless.

Peasant dress

This peasant style dress was made by a amateur dressmaker on the basis of a pattern taken from a fashion magazine. It was worn as a wedding party attire.

Everlasting spring

This summer dress is made of cotton. Fine, sheer fabrics for women’s spring and summer clothes are often decorated with printed flowers. Generally, floral prints are used in warm season fashion because flowers are associated with the springtime.

Black & white

This monochromatic dress had been designed by Barbara Hoff – in times of Polish People’s Republic a famous fashion designer and creator of Hoffland brand. Floral prints were present in many Hoff’s works.

Knitted fabric

This evening set (a dress with a scarf) has been designed by Anna Słomińska. It was made of knitted fabric with floral print and lurex yarn.

Anna Brokowska, the author of this pattern, in 1953 graduated from Public Academy of Arts in Łódź. During her professional career between 1953 and 1983 she had been designing printed fabrics for many Polish textile mills.

Roses are blue, violets are red...
Designing floral prints does not merely imitate nature. Creative visions of textile designers go far beyond existing botanical models. Some fabrics from 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are decorated with vivid images of unreal flowers. The shapes of motifs are inspired by natural forms of flowers and leaves, but their colours are abnormal. Printed plants may have green petals, pink leaves and black stems – such use of colour has nothing in common with reality. Sometimes one pattern had been designed and produced in a wide range of different coloristic versions.

Like a colouring page

One pattern may provide a wide variety of printed fabrics in which the colours are applied differently. Here is a floral print in green, yellow and red…

…and here is the same one in blue and pink.

Blue roses

Blue roses do not exist in nature but they “blossom” on this dress and jacket set.

Flowers reinvented
Shapes of flowers may be modified while designing fabric prints as well. In 1960s simplified, geometrical images of flowers had become popular. Floral motifs in that period were sometimes reduced to few lines or just several stains of colour. Some of them resembled Art Deco style. Flowers printed on fabrics in 1960s and 1970s were often big and had bright, vibrant colours. Plain flowers, with rough outlines, sometimes looked similar to children’s drawings; occasionally they tended toward abstract art. These patterns harmonized well with simple, geometric forms of clothes.

Psychedelic flowers

Large, glaring flowers decorate a dress made by “Telimena” fashion house. The design of the fabric resembles psychedelic art style.

Folk flowers
Some specific flower designs, which were popular in 1970s, derived from Polish regional folk costume. A part of traditional female costume of Krakowiak Folk and Highlanders from Podhale region and Tatra Mountains was a skirt made of soft woolen fabric called tybet. The fabric was printed with pattern of flowers, especially roses. Women also wore shoulder and head scarves made of tybet printed with wide flower border and small flowers in the middle. Fashion in 1970s drew inspiration from variety of cultures – exotic ones as well as indigenous. Ethnic and folk motifs became popular then. In Polish People’s Republic deriving from rural traditions was welcomed by authorities and professional designers eagerly adopted folk patterns. Floral skirts, shawls and scarves became fashionable among Polish women. Even famous Polish fashion house “Telimena” in 1974 used tybet fabric with flower print and created the so called “folkloristic collection”.

Timeless design

This skirt refers directly to a folk costume. The pattern of its fabric has been designed in 1957. The skirt was made in 1970’s by a fashion school student for herself.

Tradition and modernity

This ensemble, made by Polish fashion house “Telimena”, is a fusion of tradition and modernity. Traditional folk fabric was used to make a modern form of women’s garments – top and trousers.

Flowers for the wintertime

This woolen scarf, typically worn around neck as a part of a warm folk-inspired outfit along with a sheepskin coat, is an element of winter wardrobe.

Flower prints in a museum's collection
Floral patterns appear to be essential for feminine style. Printed fabrics with flower designs have been used in many kinds of women's garments: daywear and nightwear; casual clothes as well as formal ones. The rich collection of the Central Museum of Textiles in Lodz illustrates the variety of clothes and accessories with flower prints which have been present in Polish fashion.
Credits: Story

Curator: Aleksandra Liberska
Cooperation: Lidia Maćkowiak-Kotkowska, Klaudyna Kukuła, Katarzyna Witas
Photo editing: Agnieszka Ambruszkiewicz

All rights belong to the Central Museum of Textiles in Lodz unless otherwise stated. For more click here.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.