Chuck on the chintz

Bling and boho are so last year. The more innocent pleasures of country chic have taken hold among celebs from Lily Allen to Jennifer Connelly. By Rachel Shields

The English countryside has long been regarded as a style wasteland; home to muddy wellies, wax jackets, twee dresses and windswept hair. None of which town-dwellers have been keen to emulate – until now. While the fashion pack might already be stocking up on black in preparation for autumn, women across the rest of the country have come over all, well, country.

Flowery, feminine dresses are finally having their fashion moment, with celebrities including Jennifer Connelly and Lily Allen seen in floral print. The most popular dress in the new Kate Moss for TopShop collection is a poppy-print number.

"This look has been all over the catwalk – both for summer and in the coming autumn winter collections" says Hannah Teare, fashion editor of Tatler magazine. Prada got in early with a resort collection covered in flowers, while Luella focussed on spriggy little bud prints. "It is cyclical; whatever fashion embraces it will then reject. So we've had bling and boho. Now this."

Liberty has seen a surge in sales of its floral fabrics recently, particularly in the delicate, old-fashioned Tana Lawn print. Created in the 1920s, the soft floral has just featured in Chloë Sevigny's edgy debut collection for the Opening Ceremony label. Gap is selling Liberty print shirts, and Oasis has just unveiled a range of 50s-style flowery dresses, inspired by designs from the Bath Museum of Fashion. Even urban footwear has come over all pink and girly with the creation of Nike's new chintz Dunks.

While celebrities and designers can – and do – launch trends on a whim, fashion doesn't operate in a vacuum, and major style shifts often tie in to changes happening in the wider world. Many see the rise of "country chic" as a movement away from the in-your-face glamour and conspicuous consumption that characterised the 1990s, towards a more low-key look that reflects the prevailing desire to live more simply.

With the threat of recession and concerns over the environment combining to make old-fashioned pastimes like darning socks and growing vegetables the height of cool, ostentatious jewellery and dry-clean-only designer labels seem a little inappropriate. Marketers and advertisers have cottoned on, and traditional British brands such as Barbour are capitalising on their wholesome, outdoorsy image. The company is currently relaunching itself as a lifestyle brand.

"It's a bit of lifestyle, and a bit of style" said Steve Buck, the company's managing director. "We used to emphasise that our clothes could withstand the harsh conditions of the British countryside, but now we are focusing on the nicer parts of the countryside. Barbour jackets are to be worn ambling through the fields, on weekends away in the country, that sort of thing."

Designers at the spring-summer collections may all have been paid homage to the goddess Flora, but no two offerings looked the same. Blooms ran the gamut from delicate prints that wouldn't look out of place on Victorian bone china, to oversized brights harking back to the psychedelic 1970s.

Although there may be myriad ways to channel the look, the flowery tea dress has emerged as a clear favourite. Once squarely Women's Institute territory, these 1940s numbers are now a stylish, flattering, wardrobe staple.

And the reason for this surge in popularity? While the wearing of many recent offerings – jumpsuits, leggings and everything neon spring to mind – should really be restricted to leggy 14-year-old supermodels, a well-cut flowery number genuinely can suit everyone.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor