“Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.”
There’s a reason why this Devil Wears Prada line is quoted nearly constantly, aside from its signature Miranda Priestly acidity. There’s nothing remarkable about seeing an abundance of florals on the spring 2024 runways, as we have throughout the fashion week shows in London and New York. Hardly a collection has gone by without a floral touch—but one specific flower has managed to stand out from the rest of the bouquet. I’m talking roses, not rosettes—which have also been absolutely everywhere on the spring runways thus far—but full-on, long-stem roses, with leaves, thorns, and all.
Many brands have long considered roses a house code: think Alexander McQueen’s spring 2007 show, which saw dresses and headpieces exploding in live roses that littered the runway as the models walked; or Yves Saint Laurent’s look from his 1999 haute couture show, modeled by Laetitia Casta. Valentino also features roses throughout its collections, most recently putting both Zendaya and Rihanna in budding looks. But after all these years, it seems the rose trend has grown this season—literally. Long-stem roses, specifically, have popped up throughout the shows in both New York and London—on clothing, as accessories, and as props.
We first saw the trend taking shape at New York Fashion Week, where rose-inspired jewelry marked an evolution from the rosette choker trend that had a brief moment of popularity earlier this year. Newcomer Grace Ling presented a collection filled with her growing signature of 3D-printed metal details; one look featured a two-piece set with a metal rose connecting a bandeau and a skirt, silver thorns threatening to prick the model with every step. Metal flowers made a brief appearance at Carolina Herrera as well, in the form of brooches that decorated a black suit and a yellow jacket. Palomo Spain, too, embraced metal flowers—though in the form of jewelry, which enveloped the models’s ears and encircled their necks. Bags also got the rose treatment, rendered in leather with top-handle straps and stems that grazed the runway floor.
While those rose renditions were edgy, at Sandy Liang—the go-to clothier for the young at heart—the flower was used for a more cutesy and nostalgic effect. Liang’s spring 2024 collection boasted sweater sets, pleated skirts, and collared jackets—mostly plain, with little to no embellishment aside from a bow here and a rosette there. Two looks near the end of the show, however, solidified Liang’s placement within the long-stem rose trend. A skirt decorated with the silk flower was followed by a dress featuring the same attachment. The stems twisted down the garments, with Liang’s signature bows featured prominently as well. Already, the styles have caught the eyes of the public, and are being recreated on TikTok—proof of the staying power behind Liang’s playful romance and the rose trend in general.
If the scale ranges from the kitsch and romance of Sandy Liang to the edgy sexiness of Grace Ling, David Koma’s London Fashion Week presentation falls somewhere in the middle. At his neon-hued show, roses took center stage as well: there were some rendered in crystals, and other buds silkscreened onto sheer bodysuits. The designer’s most eye-catching iteration of the flower, though, came in the form of large, neon-printed roses that were plastered onto mini dresses, jackets, and gowns. On other tulle dresses, a rose was created via embroidery, adding a more sultry, Gothic flair as the stem stretched from the model’s chest to her navel. Koma’s use of the rose seemed to represent an amalgamation of all the other designers’s: as a print, an embellishment, and yes, an accessory, in the form of arm cuffs and necklaces not unlike Palomo Spain’s. It’s enough to make one wonder whether a metal manufacturer was having a sale on the floral design.
By the time Simone Rocha’s show rolled around on September 17th, it would appear that we’d seen roses in every fashionable iteration possible. But if anyone can subvert a well-worn idea, it’s Rocha—and she did just that at her spring 2024 show, The Dress Rehearsal. Rocha twirled fabric into rosettes on tops, jackets, and dresses. But the real magic came when she literally stuffed the flowers inside sheer garments. The look seemed inspired by a ballerina who had shoved the bouquets thrown onstage during her curtain call into her dress to save for later, as a treat. Elsewhere, beaded roses drooped in the hands of models and hung from their ears in what might be the most wearable form we’ve seen so far.
The rose might be a cliché, but it’s popular for a reason—there’s a beauty to the petals, the colors, the themes it represents. By displaying roses with thorns, or roses rendered in metal (used as structural pieces instead of something to be admired passively), the designers of New York and London are taking this familiar object and changing the way we view it. Of course, some were likely simply inspired by the well-earned clichés, and used the flower to evoke themes of romance and lust. If these past few weeks have proved anything, it’s the power that a flower can have over the collective unconscious of the creative set. Clearly, love was in the air in London and New York—Milan and Paris, your move.