Skip to navigation
Skip to main content


By Nicole Johnston and Jean Parsons

September 20, 2018

Flora is imitated in a variety of forms and in every possible material. Three-dimensional forms are shaped in fabric, beads, grass, and metal, while two-dimensional representations can be made in embroidery, lace and prints. In many cultures floral designs carry with them symbolic aspects that can imbue the wearer with a variety of perceived benefits while worn on the body. For example, in Japan the chrysanthemum can symbolize longevity, rejuvenation and happiness, and is an emblem of the Japanese Imperial family. A "Festival of Happiness" is celebrated each year to honor the flower.

Metal, Plastic and Enamel Brooch (1950s) N. Johnston

Silk Kimono, Japan (1940s) MHCTC

Horsehair and Linen Hat with Imitation Flowers (1910s) MHCTC

Silk, Wood and Grass Cloche (1920s) MHCTC

Glass, Plastic and Metal Purse (1920s) MHCTC

Silk Coat with Metal Thread Embroidery (1920s) MHCTC

Silk, Grass and Cotton Cloche (1920s) MHCTC

Metallic Lace Dress with Velvet Flower Accents (1930s) MHCTC

Metal Box Purse with Silk Velvet Trim (1950s) MHCTC

Metal and Enamel Brooch (1950s) MHCTC

Metal Brooch with Plastic and Rhinestone Accents (1950s-60s) MHCTC

Lace and Taffeta Dress (1950s) MHCTC

Glass, Stone, Metal, and Plastic Necklace (1950s) MHCTC

Chiffon Hat (1960s) MHCTC

Straw, Net and Fabric Flower Hat (1920s) MHCTC

Men’s Polyester Shirt (1970s) MHCTC

Boy’s Cotton Shirt (1970s) MHCTC

Men’s Cotton Swim Trunks (1960s-70s) MHCTC

Leather Cowboy Boots by Acme (1970s) MHCTC

Silk, Lace and Fabric Flower Hat (1979) MHCTC

Beaded and Embroidered Jacket (1920s) MHCTC

Silk Headdress with Metal and Plastic Accents by Hamlet Manzueta (1980s) MHCTC

Men’s Polyester Swim Trunks by Abercrombie & Fitch (Early 2000s) MHCTC

Silk Velvet Coin Purse with Metal Applique (Early 20th Century) MHCTC

Plastic, Glass and Metal Bracelet (1990s) J. Parsons

Metal and Rhinestone Brooch and Earrings Set by Coro (195s) N. Johnston

Cotton Batik Bodice and Skirt (1970s) MHCTC

Cotton Batik Shirt by Iwan Tirta (1990s) MHCTC

Embroidered Mirror Work Skirt, India (Mid 20th Century) MHCTC

Return to Origins: Flora and Fashion homepage

Return to Origins: Dress and Textiles homepage