Her Dark Materials: Exploring Autumn/Winter's Gothic Florals Trend

There's something wonderfully unwholesome about it - intoxicating orchids, heavily perfumed lilies, that kind of thing. Oooh, atmospheric!
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There's something wonderfully unwholesome about it - intoxicating orchids, heavily perfumed lilies, that kind of thing. Oooh, atmospheric!

Hurrah, it’s September! I can legitimately start wearing my autumn/winter wardrobe! Except not, because it’s still warm. Ugh. The best solution to this is one of the best AW13 trends: dark florals. These flowery prints are the antithesis of twee and girlie – less ‘50s prom frock, more brooding Bloomsbury cloak, all swirling, muddy colours and opulent fabrics.

They make me think of a forest floor covered in rotting vegetation, or an old glass house full of plants that have gone completely feral. There's something wonderfully unwholesome and sinister about it - intoxicating orchids, heavily perfumed lilies, that kind of thing. Oooh, atmospheric!

Giambattista Valli, Lanvin, Valentino, Mulberry

Giambattista Valli, Lanvin, Valentino, Mulberry

You can do dark florals literally – shades of aubergine, ink, moss and chocolate – or metaphorically (bear with, bear with) – think of a floral that’s been rendered in a digital print, all blocky pixels, or a triffid-like bloom that’s large and menacing, crawling all over a shirt.

We’re talking Pre-Rafaelite gloom, William Morris-y Arts and Crafts detail, flowers that resemble botanical illustrations in a Victorian textbook. Go to the V&A for inspiration, then nip into Topshop or Zara (the two greatest high street proponents of the trends) to recreate that gothic splendour in a marvellously melodramatic ensemble.

And of course dark florals aren’t confined to dresses – see them swarming over trousers, jumpers, shirts and even – glory be – culottes! They look just as good on crisp tailoring as on a grungy slip dress and will suit all shapes and tastes. And because you can wear your floral culottes or slip or whatever now with bare legs and brogues, then add tights and knitwear when the weather cools, this is the ultimate transitional trend.

So, let's kick things off with a couple of prime examples from ASOS Curve - I love this quilted jacket in particular. They've styled it here with a tee and denim shorts which looks great, but it would work equally well in the evening over a black dress.

ASOS Curve maxi dress, £38.50 and ASOS Curve quilted jacket in floral print, £45, asos.com

ASOS Curve maxi dress, £38.50 and ASOS Curve quilted jacket in floral print, £45, asos.com

House of Hackney are going to responsible for steering us away from mid-century modern Skandi style in our homes and in the altogether more melodramatic direction of Victorian gothic. Their wallpaper and textiles are ace, and so is this sweet floral pinafore dress - with that moody black background, the white flowers really sing (like something in a graveyard on a moonlight night, woooo.....)

House of Hackney ‘60s pocket pinny, £255, asos.com

House of Hackney ‘60s pocket pinny, £255, asos.com

Oh Jaeger, how can I resist your trouser suits? This ensemble is a masterclass in making a ditsy print look cool and tough.

Jaeger jacquard trousers, £140, jaeger.co.uk

Jaeger jacquard trousers, £140, jaeger.co.uk

And this nifty little shift from Jaeger is one part pixellated computer screen, one part granny's tapestry (and 100% chic).

Jaeger digital tapestry silk dress, £180, jaeger.co.uk

Jaeger digital tapestry silk dress, £180, jaeger.co.uk

I think Zara are the winners this season at interpreting ALL the trends (actually, aren't they always?) and there were almost too many dark floral options to choose from. Here are a few of my favourites...

Zara floral print dress, £22.99 and floral dress with lace detailing, £25.99 , zara.com

Zara floral print dress, £22.99 and floral dress with lace detailing, £25.99 , zara.com

Zara floral lingerie style dress,£39.99, printed flowing jumpsuit, £44.99 and printed dress with lace trim, £44.99, zara.com

Zara floral lingerie style dress,£39.99, printed flowing jumpsuit, £44.99 and printed dress with lace trim, £44.99, zara.com

And then we have COS being all abstract and intellectual with this blown-up lily (I think?) in swirling, painterly swooshes over the simplest sack dress. This is one of those little wonders that would look perfectly office-appropriate and then could be jazzed up for the evening or even a wedding with high, high heels and a chunky necklace.

COS graphic print dress, £79, cosstores.com

COS graphic print dress, £79, cosstores.com

Onto Topshop, who also have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to moody, gothic, floral-smothered pieces this season. I love this shirt, it's the contrast between the two halves and the beautifully detailed botanical print. So great with skinny jeans or tucked into a long pleated skirt with boots.

Topshop tiny flower blur shirt, £38, topshop.com

Topshop tiny flower blur shirt, £38, topshop.com

I've been waiting SO long for someone to revive culottes - thank you Topshop! There one item from the '90s that can totally be revived in my book (that jumper's jazzy too, isn't it?)

Topshop knitted 3D floral jumper, £46 and floral print culottes, £38, topshop.com

Topshop knitted 3D floral jumper, £46 and floral print culottes, £38, topshop.com

You will never regret having a simple little skater dress like this hanging in your wardrobe - it's so versatile.

Evans skater dress, £35, evans.co.uk

Evans skater dress, £35, evans.co.uk

I love the unusual shape and stormy-sky colour palette of this swingy mini-trapeze-dress from ASOS.

ASOS smock dress in oversized dark floral, £30, asos.com

ASOS smock dress in oversized dark floral, £30, asos.com

And finally, a classic shift from Hobbs with a beautiful floral print that reminds me of Monet's waterlilies or the marbled paper lining of a beautiful old book. Lovely.

Hobbs Persephone dress, £169, hobbs.co.uk

Hobbs Persephone dress, £169, hobbs.co.uk

This article originally appeared on xoJane.co.uk.

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