Petal Power

Flowers in Every Style

Fashion demanded floral prints to suit a range of moods and styles. The vividly coloured exoticism of the 1920s gave way in the 1930s to a more restrained feminine ideal - Hollywood glamour, modernism and the ultra-feminine ingénue were all fashionable trends. In the 1940s, nostalgic designs with leaves and flowers were a popular style. Versatility was a virtue for a studio designer. Although some women designers at the Silver Studio had a signature style, it was those who designed across a variety of styles, or who designed for fashion, children's dress and furnishing textiles who had the most enduring relationship with the Silver Studio.
sd1454sd1025719401st350519879
  • Design for a dress silk, Mrs McPherson, 1928 (SD1454)

    Mrs McPherson does not appear to have worked for the Silver Studio for very long. From the mid-1920s a number of her designs influenced by vividly coloured French patterns are credited to her in the Silver Studio records. The stylized flowers and intentionally naïve mark-making of this pattern are drawn in the spirit of the French couturier Paul Poiret's Atelier Martin.

  • Design for a dress silk, Winifred Mold, 1931 (SD10257)

    This design offers a floral compromise to the trend for abstract and geometric patterns in the 1930s. The leaves have been drawn to create a background of overlapping, linear textural forms. The delicate flowers prettify and add traditional-style gaiety to a pattern which is in other respects overtly modern.

  • Design for printed dress silk, Winifred Mold, 1923 (SD2764.1)

    Flowers were not the only 'nature' subjects popular for fashionable dress designs. This design for fluttering butterflies was skillfully drawn by Winifred Mold in two colourways. The second version has pale yellow butterflies and a mid-grey ground.

  • Liberty & Co fabric sample of a design by Madeleine Lawrence, 1927 (ST3425)

    The London retailer Liberty and Co was internationally recognised for its fine, floral dress silks and cottons. This design of clustered anemones was produced by the firm in numerous colourways and in three weights of fabric: silk, linen and, as here, in a lightweight cotton 'Runis Crape'. Small-scale, floral patterns were Madeleine Lawrence's specialty. In silk-chiffon, cotton or modern rayon these types of patterns offered a delicate or practical choice for a 1930s summer dress or tea gown.

  • Flower Studies, Miss Koehler, 1940 (SD992)

    This design by Miss Koehler has autumnal browns and yellows in its colouring and flowers, which include snowdrops and forget-me-nots, crisply outlined in brown against a clear pale blue ground. Autumnal colours were fashionable in the late 1930s and 1940s. In a time of war, gently nostalgic florals such as this perhaps evoked less dangerous and technology-led times.

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