There are few things I love more than designs that breathe new life into old ideas. Maybe it's because I was a little girl in the '80s, but there has always been a soft spot in my heart for what I like to call "scary florals"; these are robust, energetic floral patterns that are just a little bit over the top. And now, it would seem, thanks to a new generation of designers, scary florals are making a comeback and they're far more glorious than frightening.
This was the '80s: big hair, big ruffles, big florals. I didn't think of them as scary then, just decadent and gorgeous and pretty much perfect. Image from Period Cult.
Scary florals actually have quite a long history. Here, they bring their gentle menace to a 1951 ad for Armstrong flooring, from Mid Century Home Style, via their Flickr. I think it was Rikki Nyman, curator of the Mid Century Home Style blog, who put the term "scary florals" on my radar, and for that I thank her. (If you want to go back really far, scary florals can probably be blamed on the Rococo movement, but that seems like the beginning of another post.)
These scary florals, in a retro home from Dos Family, are possibly even scarier. Or are they? If you look at them long enough, they start to seem less scary and more bold and luscious and enveloping. That's the power of a good scary floral.
I would like to extend my thanks to whoever is styling the catalogs at Anthropologie for bringing the scary floral back. (The image at the top of this post is also one of theirs.) Both of these spaces seem almost Victorian, but with a modern twist. It's not quite a style I would want to replicate at home, but in an era where minimalism is king, it's refreshing to see something so unabashedly ornate. And the scary florals, of course, are just a little too much: lovely, robust, and maybe a tad menacing, just like a scary floral should be.
As a closing note, here is the Timorous Beasties Fruit Looters wallpaper, which reflects the exciting new direction of scary florals in that, while it feels a little Arts and Crafts and a little Art Nouveau, it mostly just feels wild, like something only recently plucked from a nature walk and lightly patternized for your wall. It's a lovely way to be reminded that the natural world, while beautiful and bountiful, can also be just a little bit scary.