2019 has marked a new dawn in women’s fashion. For the last few seasons, street wear has been reigning supreme; creatives behind brands like Off-White and Vetements have been the industry darlings, shell suits, bum bags and bucket hats have all had a comeback, and sales of trainers have risen by 37% since 2017. So, it was only a matter of time before the backlash started, and what easier way to rebel against that teenage boy aesthetic than with billowing, oversized, prairie-inspired floral dresses?
The look was a bit of a slow burner. Floral maxis have simmered quietly on the fashion horizon for a while now but look back at the SS17 shows and you’ll see a bevy of dark, angry flower prints; Erdem, Lanvin, Michael Kors and McQueen all embraced something between romantic and gothic as the trend emerged. The true antidote to street wear came from new designers - names you’d never heard of before including, most notable, The Vampire’s Wife, who started to appear on the horizon to offer a true alternative to all that masculinity. From ruffles to florals to statement shoulders to maxi lengths, this new look began to emerge - and in a time when, simultaneously, Western style has been so heavily championed (think cowboy boots, double denim and even, achem, cow prints), it’s no surprise this feminine extension of the look has legs.
Here are the key things to know about the trend:
The look may be a departure from sportswear and androgyny, but that doesn’t mean you have to suddenly go full-blown twee. Whilst some brands may be advocating the look head-to-toe (look to Shrimps’ prairie-chic campaigns featuring white ruffled socks and bow-adorned boaters), many have encouraged a cooler, more contemporary aesthetic - see chunky velvet heels teamed with The Vampire’s Wife styles, or the fashion set adding biker boots to theirs. This isn’t about suddenly veering from one end of the gender dressing scale to another - it’s simply a great alternative for those after something a little softer.
Another key purveyor of the trend has been Batsheva, the CFDA nominated New York designer who has taken vintage-style table-cloth prints and transformed them into cult products. Also look out for new-kid-on-the-block Horror Vacui, whose creative director Anna Heinrichs has drawn inspiration from vintage sleepwear; think scalloped edges, Liberty-like prints and delicate smocking. And for a cheaper alternative? Instagram brand m.92_clothing is creating Little House-like styles for around the £100 mark.
Whilst the designers promoting the style command high prices, the beauty of this look is it’s easily replicable. Vintage lovers will know these prints and patterns have been around for years - the whole point of the prairie moniker is to reference its longstanding history. Sure, you can buy the look anew, but we suggest keeping your eyes peeled for authentic versions (eBay and Depop are particularly fruitful) - add a leather biker and chunky heels and no one will be any the wiser.
Shop our favourite prairie dresses below...
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