Image via Alessandro Garofalo

No Surprises Here: Floral Elements Were All The Rage at NYFW

This year’s Fall-Winter showing for New York Fashion Week 2016 brought on a few surprises– Jeremy Scott’s amazing animal prints, Gucci’s return to the spotlight, Saint Laurent’s incredibly-tailored mens suits. Less obvious, however, was the fashion world’s continued obsession with florals, which seemed to pop up both on and off the runway. The GC staff agrees that flowers can be as timeless and enduring as high fashion itself, but we were pleased to see floral elements being incorporated into next season’s looks in exciting and innovative ways, from Rodarte’s gorgeous modernist flower crowns to Nicole Miller’s kimono dresses.

Flower crowns, a seemingly eternal staple of the modern runway, are more historically-rooted than one might think. According to Vogue, the traditional Ukrainian flower crown– also known as the vinok— is having a renaissance due in part to its cultural history. Today, flower crowns are sold at almost every bazaar and market in Kiev, even alongside trinkets and oddities like “pale pigs heads, mounds of beef, fresh fish, fake Adidas tracksuits, neon puffer coats, and rows of pantyhose”. These specific floral headbands– like most mid-century floral headbands– have a deeper meaning than merely to express one’s sense of identity through sartorial conviction. In Ukraine, flower crowns are employed in the Greek and Byzantine tradition of wearing head wreaths at weddings– but the head wreath is also meant to signal the purity of a young woman before marriage. (If an unmarried woman “lost her vinok”, it was implied that she was no longer “pure”.)

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“Flower crowns, a seemingly eternal staple of the modern runway, are more historically-rooted than one might think.”

After the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, however, young women– feeling a surge of nationalism– returned to this age-old tradition as a way of honoring their nation’s traditional garb. It just so happens that the look was “trendy” enough and salient enough in our cataclysmic world (in part owing to the fact that flowers are a universal sign of “peace”) that the tradition has become a hit among the more politically-minded designers in the world of fashion, especially in major “Fashion Week” cities like New York, London, Paris, and Milan. The Comme des Garcons Homme Plus men’s Spring 2016 show was one such example: for the collection’s debut, male models wore lush botanical crowns as part of a show titled “Armour of Peace”. “I think we are coming back to floral themes because fashion is starting to react on wars that we are having around the globe,” Nadiia Shapoval, a Ukranian model, recently told Vogue. “We need some tenderness.”

Check out more of our favorite floral looks from this season’s NYFW runway, below.

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