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Forever florals

This is a celebration of the king of retro florals George Scott and all things Gucci.

George Scott's fifty-year-old flowers are as alive as ever. Born in 1918 in Indiana, USA, he made his name designing exuberant floral fashion and furnishings in Milan. Dubbed ‘Fashion’s Gardener’, he had become one of the top designers in Italy by the 1970s. Of course, it was Gucci’s artistic director, Alessandro Michele, who kick-started the current Ken Scott craze. This spring, the fashion-forward are snapping up new pieces by Gucci emblazoned with glorious vintage prints by the textile designer. You might be wondering how florals produced half a century ago can still feel fresh, especially without much adaptation. Luckily, at the Print Pattern Archive we have our own collection of Ken Scott style swatches as well a few originals and an understanding of what makes these blooms so hardy.

Pretty much every fashion blogger reviewing the Gucci collection referenced the same remark made by their fictional high priestess, Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Prada:

‘Florals? For spring? Ground-breaking.’

The thing is, though, the enduring relevance of Ken Scott’s most beloved motif is a great strength of his prints. Since the beginning of history, flowers have been synonymous with seasonal renewal, hope and vitality. Blooms infuse our creation stories, and seem to spring up at every moment of transition or celebration in our lives. We continue to flood our homes with florals, reimagined with each new generation to comfort and revitalize us amidst new challenges.

As Ken Scott established himself as a textile designer in the 1960s, large-scale, graphic ‘flower power’ patterns began to liberate interiors from the prim-and-proper prints of decades past. This was a fun and frivolous manifestation of turbulent contemporary social change. The seventies saw stylised blooms with saturated mustard or orange petals create a dream-like mood whilst, in the eighties, maximalism provided an antidote to the banality of the office. Fast-forward to the 2010s and, as technology advanced and division widened, brands like Cath Kidston catered to an insatiable appetite for the ditsy, quintessentially British florals of a simpler yesteryear. Flowers might be considered a crowd-pleaser, but that is because they are meaningful for each of us. It actually makes perfect sense that vintage florals are having a moment right now, whilst many of us look forward to liberation from lockdown and consider how to make our world a better, brighter place.

What is so special about Ken Scott’s prints in particular is their audacious colour. Pantone’s colours of the year for 2021 are the ‘practical and rock solid’ Ultimate Gray and the ‘warming and optimistic’ Illuminating.[1] Ken Scott florals are all Illuminating, no Ultimate Gray, plus ‘pumpkin, hot pink and pepper green or mauve, purple, chalk white, electric pink and black’.

[2] This was a man who wouldn’t tolerate a dull moment.

Through his technicolour palette, we escape to a hedonistic Mediterranean summer, filled with slow and simple indulgences like ripe fruit and radiant sun. This refusal to settle for grey has been described as ‘daring’ and, in turn, leaves you emboldened to make the world a better, brighter place now. Whatever is trending, whatever your personal taste, you can put your worries aside to relish in a Ken Scott floral. Now, that’s what makes a classic.

If you’re inspired to infuse your interior with the vitality of Ken Scott, or intrigued by another floral, the Print Pattern Archive would love to work with you. Here's a little snippet of one of our fave retro fresh florals:

You can get in touch with us via Cheryl

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