Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mrs. Delany, Still Fashionable Centuries Later

So, I figured if everybody else in Atlanta was taking a few snow days, I'd do the same. Of course, there was absolutely no excuse for me not to compose a few posts or two. The power did stay on, after all. But sometimes it's a real treat to do absolutely nothing, and that nothing included spending an embarrassing amount of time on Neiman's website. It wasn't for naught, either, because I found an Etro skirt that I'm dying for as well as some YSL shoes. What really caught my eye, though, was this Carolina Herrera skirt, shown above. It's really unique and striking, right? I tend to avoid wearing anything floral on my person, something which I attribute to those Laura Ashley dresses from the 1980s. (They were cute, but a little went a long way.)

No, what really struck me about this skirt is how reminiscent it is of Mary Delany's botanical paper mosaics. Then I read that much of Herrera's Spring 2011 collection was inspired by 18th century botanical plates, so the connection makes sense. Of course, Mary Delany never used tape in her work (or at least not that I'm aware of), but other similarities are there. Here is a little side by side comparison:

"Phlox suaveolens", 1776

"Amygdalus Persica", 1778

"Cynoglossum omphalodes", 1776.

"Arctotis calendulacea", 1777.

Top images from Neiman Marcus; other Herrera photos courtesy of; Delany images from Mrs. Delany and Her Circle (Yale Centre for British Art)


  1. So beautiful, I love Carolina Herrera's designs...I used to work at Laura Ashley and I know what you mean...too much with the flower power! I love that Carolina only wears crisp white button downs too, so classic.

  2. I would have never thought that Mrs Delany's paper works could be reinterpreted for women's wear, but that just shows what little insight I have into fashion.

  3. Jennifer,
    The similarities are striking. You are really quite a sleuth. Thank you for posting these. Both Delany's botanical drawings and Herrera's designs are quite beautiful.

  4. Brilliant. I agree about the white signature shirt Miss Carolina wears!

  5. Jennifer,

    These prints are beautiful and fresh and seem strangely modern all of a sudden. Timeless style never fades.

  6. Herrera beautifully hits the mark again. How wonderful of you to connect Mrs. Delany's botanicals to her. Great Article. thank I always learn so much from your post. xx

  7. THE CAROLINA FLOWERS...OHHH NO! do you think she had permission from the British Museum, where all those flowers are? They could have been taken (scanned) from the book that was published...


  8. Thanks for this post. These skirts are clever and beautiful and Ms. Herrera always designs the most elegant pieces.

  9. I have always and still do love CH's designs. I love too-Mrs Delany, and her circle- but I did not like these things-I have tried because I admire the designer, these just seem over reaching. the longer gown works best. She must have morphed the designs with different labels to avoid some copyright issues-things are different enough. Perhaps a less literal take would have worked better in this case. pgt

  10. Herrera a classic always. Signature style all the way!!

    Also, I have a Great New Giveaway from Blydesign! Come and enter!

    Art by Karena

  11. An homage to Peak of Chic and Mrs. Delany, from the garden world, at today's Dirt du jour: Northern California

    I look forward to Peak of Chic every morning in my email!

  12. Charlotte- I love it! Thank you!

  13. Anonymous1:54 PM

    What a cool skirt. Maybe a few of us could buy it and share it?

  14. There's just something about the richness of a black background -- gives the flowers an entirely different edge. Love this post, Jennifer!

  15. I want the green hat!

  16. I am still kicking myself for missing the Delaney exhibit at Yale - it was practically in my back garden, and I just did not get there in time. Love these inspired frocks.