Sunday, 18 March 2012

Floral versus Vegetable Print

More Australian shopping spoils (taken while I still had a camera).  Dying to wear this!  Still a wee bit on the nippy side in London though.  Will be perfect when it warms up to work the fifties prom dress vibe that will be all the rage come Spring following all those ultra feminine looks sent down the runway by the likes of Louis Vuitton and Dolce and Gabbana.

Though I'm not so keen on veggie prints a la Dolce and Gabbana.  I find them just a bit too much on the domestic goddess side for me.  As pure fashion spectacle I love this collection for the heady visual punch the vibrancy of the prints pack, but my admiration is purely driven by culinary instincts rather than fashionable ones.  Normally fashion posing as food is a marketing ploy that works a treat on someone like me, that is, someone who adores food and who usually thinks with their taste buds or stomach.  Rename a colour vanilla rather than off-white, sage rather than pale green, or bitter chocolate rather than dark brown and I'm usually sold.  I'm positively drooling with excitement about ice-cream colours for Spring!

But I have to say I definitely prefer my vegetables on my plate than in my wardrobe. I'd just feel like I was wearing the contents of my kitchen counter wearing something like this.  As a great lover of Italian food, I think the die-hard chef in me would always be itching to pour olive oil all over a dress covered with glistening aubergines, season it generously and stick it in the oven to roast.

Something about seeing vegetables depicted in print in all their ripe, raw and uncooked glory and I am instantly reminded of all the labour that goes into preparing vegetables for a meal rather than the sensual pleasure of eating them, of savouring a certain flavour, or enjoying the aroma of a favourite spice or herb. Instead the sensations conjured up are the interminable boredom of peeling skins, the monotony of chopping, the discomfort of the induced tears from slicing onions.  I can even hear my mother in my head chiding me a child to eat up all my vegetables or face going to bed without dessert.

And my feminist skin may just break out in a rash wearing vegetable prints.  What are Stefano and Domenico trying to say about women here?  Some underlying message woven into the silk that runs between the tomatoes, courgettes and peppers whispers "woman's work" to me as it sashays down the runway, in the same way that seeing tea towels printed with kitsch depictions of vegetables and other kitchen counter items does.  It's not that I think these print dresses look like tea towels, they just have the same psychological effect on me as seeing tea towels with their peculiar still life studies of domestic duties. 

They stir up guilt ridden memories of my mother, grandmother and aunts, all of whom became housewives due to the social expectations of their generation rather than choice, all of whom owned such tea towels, and all of whom owned more tea towels than they ever did dresses or lipsticks.  Tea towels that were always chosen carefully to be bright and jovial so as to bring cheer to the kitchen where they took pride of place, and where the women who bought them would spend the majority of their lives as wives and mothers. A family custom which, when I peruse my own vegetable printed tea towel collection, I am alarmed to realise I have perpetuated.  In fact if Dolce and Gabbana released a kitsch range of tea towels in vibrant aubergine, tomato and onion prints, I'd probably be all over it!

I do however, love the womanly silhouette that a fifties style dress cuts on a woman's body with its nipped in waist and voluminous skirt.  When it comes to dresses, I prefer prints with a lower calorie count and am particularly partial to florals.  This modern take on a chintzy print caught my eye whilst wandering through a department store in Australia.  I like the smudginess of it, somewhere between the pixelated blur of our electronic information age and old style painterly brushstrokes giving an Impressionist form to the buds and blooms. The metallic sheen of the fabric and shiny patent belt also adds a little edge to the old school fifties glamour.  A modern take on femininity is a look I can do.

And as it's Mother's Day here in the UK my thoughts are with my own dear Mother, who doesn't know I blog, who to this day baffles me with her undying love of collecting kitsch tea towels, who instilled me with a love of food, cooking and clothes, who sacrificed her own dreams and goals so I could realise mine, and who gets a new dress or item of make up from me at every opportunity as gifts.  One day, so help me God, they will outnumber the tea towels.  When you grow up to reject the type of life your mother had to make a new one for yourself the guilt as her daughter can be palpable.  There is the uncomfortable feeling that in rejecting the symbols of domestic life you associate with her oppression as a woman that you are somehow rejecting her. And yet those same symbols are regarded with strange affection as something that reminds you of her unconditional love. 

So Happy Mother's Day Mum and to all you mothers out there.  May life bring you all more dresses, lipsticks and flowers than vegetable print tea towels.

Digital floral print dress: Cue


  1. Veshoevius! What a beautiful ode to your mother. That paragraph reads like poetry! I can't wait to see you in that STUNNER of a dress! Hugs! ~Serene

  2. What a beautiful post. The dress is gorgeous!

    From Cue?

    Hope London is warming up. I loved it so much.

    SSG xxx

    Sydney Shop Girl blog

  3. Your post has left a lump in my throat - the gulf between my mother's life and mine could hardly be wider -- she never dreamed of the things I've been able to do. What a lovely tribute.

    And what a stunning dress - I want to see it on you too : >

  4. Happy Mothers Day to your mother. This is so beautifully said: When you grow up to reject the type of life your mother had to make a new one for yourself the guilt as her daughter can be palpable. There is the uncomfortable feeling that in rejecting the symbols of domestic life you associate with her oppression as a woman that you are somehow rejecting her. And, I have coped with that my entire life.

    As for the vegetables, I found myself thinking as I read about the symbolic difference of what a flower and a ripe vegetable represent...the "mature" fruit, but I don't know what that might mean.

    Hope to see you WEARING this beautiful dress!

    1. "I found myself thinking as I read about the symbolic difference of what a flower and a ripe vegetable represent...the "mature" fruit"
      Terri - you're right! I hadn't thought of that but yes - that is a very potent symbol, buds and flowers the Springtime of our youth and fruit and vegetables the rewards we reap in adulthood - maybe I should embrace the vegetables!

  5. The dress is beautiful and I went back to look at your link to your mom. She is incredible. I especially appreciated how she influenced you as a young fashionista. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

  6. That dress is so beautiful, I'm dying to see you wearing it.
    I think your reason for disliking vegetable prints is the same as my dislike of 1950s fashion. It involves shoes that hinder rapid walking and restrictive underwear and just seems like it was created for a man's enjoyment rather than feminine pleasure. xxx

  7. Lovely post. Gorgeous dress. I'm sure your mum loves you and is proud of you regardless of whether you embrace her love for tea towels or not!

  8. I am always amazed with your writing and in this case your poetic analysis of the conflicts that surface in relationship with our mothers due to the shift in women's roles over the past few generations. I have similar feeling.

    Waiting to see you in this beautiful floral dress with its 'modern take on femininity.' And your mother is beautiful.

  9. You are killing me with this post it is so heartfelt and I know the guilt you are talking about! Happy Mother's Day to your mother, and what a good thoughtful daughter you are. And by the way, I love the dress, it will look wonderful on you! XO, Jill

  10. What a find - and today should have been warm enough to actually wear it. My dear mum always says: Rather celebrate me EVERY day!

  11. you know, i never thought about this like that, though i totally appreciate what you're saying. i like vegeatble prints because they're unusual. flowers are pretty, decorative and everywhere. Veggies are practical and not so pretty. they appeal to my non-pretty nature.

  12. This is a great posting I have read. I like your article.

  13. I love naming colours related to food and sometimes tropical fruit. The floral dress is divine with the brushstrokes ... I'm sure you will look amazing in it I am not generally too big on veggie prints, however flowers seem to always catch my eye, especially with sophisticated hues like yours above. I hope you've been able to wear the dress. Beautiful post.


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