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Not just for your nan: how roses became fashion’s must-have pattern

Photo of Lipsy Halter Scuba Skater Dress, £36, available from Next. PA Photo/Handout.

By Prudence Wade

The English Rose evokes a picture of the quintessential country beauty; pretty, but not particularly exciting. However, designers have been working on revamping the rose’s image, making it one of the edgiest florals out there right now.

One of the best things about the rose pattern is how versatile it is. Depending on your taste, it can be styled as strong and experimental, as well as soft and feminine.

High fashion’s obsession with roses isn’t exactly a new thing, and in early December a new exhibition dedicated to the flower opened at the Alexander McQueen flagship store in London. It’s dedicated to all the different ways roses have been used in the house’s history, from McQueen himself using the pattern back in the Nineties, to current creative director Sarah Burton’s recent runway show, where a dress looked like a red rose in bloom.

Of course, you’re hardly going to go out wearing an outfit sculpted to look like a flower, but rose patterns have recently made a comeback elsewhere in design too.

Now is the time to get in on the rose print hype; while it proved a hit on the autumn/winter catwalks and McQueen has been championing it for years, it’s been slower to reach full bloom on the high street. What is available though will surely make you runway-ready.

Here’s how you can try out the pattern in three different ways…


Daytime chic…

For a relaxed take on the trend, there are plenty of tea dresses that fit the bill. Lean into the floral romance of roses by wearing dresses which are flirty and girlish: think short hemlines, flouncy fabrics and flared sleeves. What you’ll most often see on the catwalk – and on the high street – are dresses with high necks and long sleeves, which avoid being frumpy with the help of a micro skirt.

A tea dress might seem like a terrible idea at this time of year, but it can be repurposed with the help of layers. Wear a turtleneck underneath with thick tights, black boots and a chunky knit, and you’ve transformed a springtime print into something much more seasonally appropriate.


Getting fancy…

Take inspiration from the Prada catwalk and choose a rose-patterned dress next time you’re planning on going out. We’re not talking about a flouncy daytime look here, but something a lot darker and moodier. If florals aren’t normally your style, roses done this way might be enough to tempt you in.

Top tip: opt for a blood red or white rose pattern against a dark background, for a look that really stands out. This is not the print as you know it, but rather an edgy, grown-up way to do florals.


Going graphic…

Alternatively, look to the Shrimps catwalk for inspiration. Instead of vague floral patterns, designer Hannah Weiland made roses stand out by using a geometric print. Again, it’s a way of pulling florals away from the girly and romantic stereotypes, and making them feel more modern and unique.

The Shrimps faux fur coats with geometric roses have led to a wave of jumpers and T-shirts on the high street with similarly bold and graphic prints. It opens up a world of possibilities for florals, which are stereotypically seen on dresses, skirts and anything uber-feminine.


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