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Natural Motifs are In This Summer

Small Floral Prints are Everywhere!

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Maxi dresses in vibrant small floral prints are this summer's most popular item.

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The trend this summer in Japan is anything with small flowers: floral prints can be seen everywhere, from store window displays to fashion on the streets. The patterns are embraced by women of all ages, from young girls to adults.

A Longtime Love for Floral Prints in JapanFlorals have always been a popular motif in Japan. They were a favorite with Kenzo Takada, Yuki Torii and other Japanese designers who made the biggest splash at the Paris collections during the 1970s. Flowers were featured on dresses and blouses, sometimes exotically, sometimes elegantly. Either way, their style took the fashion industry by surprise, and floral prints have continued to be an influential feature for Japanese designers ever since.

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Floral komon patterns popular in the Edo period; one can find similarities with today’s small floral prints.

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Such love for floral patterns can be traced back as far as the Edo Period (1603-1867), in textile designs that resemble the small floral prints popular today. Known as komon, patterns were dyed on one side of fabrics using wooden boards and paper stencils.

Komon designs originated with the formal kimono worn by the samurai, and were later adopted by other classes of society. Although any object at all can be the inspiration for patterns, cherry blossoms, plum blossoms, chrysanthemums, morning glories, and other flowers are popular komon motifs. Likened to floral print maxi dresses of the Edo period, kimono in unconventional and finely died komon designs appear modern and fashionable even by today's standards.

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Floral prints even lend pants a sweet, feminine style.

Flexible Patterns Suit Every Individual

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Small floral prints show up everywhere — even on bags and sneakers!

Today's floral prints use roses, marguerites, gerbera and other Western flowers, or small, unnamed wild flowers as motifs, which highlight the charms of Japanese women. While large floral patterns create a dramatic impact, the more unique and dramatic the look, the more difficult it is to carry off. By contrast, small flowers are not overbearing in either pattern or color combination, so anyone — even those with a more conservative fashion sense — can wear them without hesitation.

For example, a sweet, romantic small floral print goes a long way to softening the look of the maxi dress, which tends to have a bold, mature feel. Even shorts and sneakers, items that can easily seem masculine, are instantly transformed into soft and feminine pieces when done in floral prints. Such motifs can also turn scarves, bags, hair bands, and other accessories into eye-catching accents for a polished, coordinated outfit.

Floral prints help bring nature a little closer and brighten up the day, even when used subtly. They offer a flexibility that works for anyone and any outfit. Small floral prints suit the Japanese sensibility — one in which it is important not to stand out too much, but at the same time be able to express oneself as an individual. (August 2011)

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