Jun 26, 2011

Arts & Crafts Design: inspired by nature

With our current trend for both hand-made artisan goods
and floral-inspired graphic patterns
{which are both quite fabulously exciting developments},
let's have a look back at another time,
when there was a similar world-wide desire
for nature-based design.

It was the Arts and Crafts Movement
which originated in England in the 1860s,
heavily influenced fashion, architecture & interior design,
and reached a peak around the turn of the century.

An advert for the Lace Exhibition in Paris in 1904
illustrates the enchantment with delicate motifs,
curvy organic lines,
and a certain romanticisim for the exquisite.

A Jacques Doucet gown of gold lace, 
from 1900,
is a riot of floral patterning.

Czech Actress Anna Sedlackova in 1912
sporting a magnificent feathered hat.
Ah, feathers - they're back in fashion too, 
aren't they?

These fabulous houses, 
all by the architect Harold Desbrowe-Annear,
were built in the early 1900s in Melbourne.
This beautiful dresser was one of the first
examples of built-in joinery.
Hard to believe that we take this for granted today!

The popular colours of this movement were 
those found in nature, 
but especially ones with a golden or orange tone.
This is a portrait of Elizabeth Drexel,
an American author & Manhattan socialite,
painted in 1905 by Boldini.
Her bodice is adorned with lace flowers,
and the dress "grows" from the painting, 
just like nature.

Arts & Crafts colours 
are used masterfully in a contemporary 
arrangement by Sarah Winward,
which has the same romantic feel.

Swirling lines, echoing those found in flowers, 
were incorporated into fashionable clothes,
like this French gown by Callot Soeurs {1910}.

 A modern table setting.
Flowers by Sarah Winward.
Do you see a pattern emerging here?

Marc Jacobs ruffled silk dress, 2011 collection.

Haute Hippie dress, 2011 collection.

Amazing how much the appeal of these designs 
still resonate today, isn't it?

I guess it is because true beauty 
never goes out of style.

Images: all houses & interiors designed 
by Harold Desbrowe-Annear, open today. Details here.
All flowers: Sarah Winward.
Contemporary fashion: lyst.
Historical fashion images: wikimedia commons


  1. oh my Virginia, what a stunning post...I enjoyed every bit of it, thanks for bringing such flair, creativity and beauty to the blogging world- it's very much appreciated :)
    Hope you are having a great day
    Sun is shining in Sydney, it's a fantastic day here, hope it's nice in Melbourne too
    Claudia xo

  2. Hello Virginia:
    We do so admire, and have found most interesting, the way in which you have made connections and links between present day designs and those which were fashionable and in favour in the very early years of the C20.

    The houses by Desbrowe-Annear we should find most fascinating and would much like to visit. A second reason to jump on that Melbourne bound plane!

    Another beautifully and thoughtfully presented post. Thank you so much.

  3. Gorgeous images to start my week. True style never goes out of fashion. Thanks xo

  4. Thanks for providing such an informative, inspiring and fascinating post on the Arts & Crafts Movement and the impact it had across the board in all areas of design at the turn of the century. Makes a nice change to read a post that isn't interior design or fashion, and that encourages us to appreciate the skill, beauty and pioneering spirit of the designers of yesteryear, who paved the way for the creatives of today. Everything old is new again, as they say.


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