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Trend alert: The corsage is having a comeback

It’s the mid-Noughties, and ladies up and down the United Kingdom have become customisation queens. Your mum is manically knotting silk scarves around handbag straps, using ancient origami techniques to tie cardigans and sweaters, and splurging on a florist’s worth of fabric corsages to affix to blazers and boleros. Call it the cult of Gok Wan. Witness women praying to the pages of What Not To Wear, and sitting, mouths agape, in the cinema, as Carrie Bradshaw’s fetish for the floral brooch reaches Brobdingnagian proportions in the first Sex And The City movie, thanks to a certain hibiscus-adorned Eugene Alexander dress.

A decade ago, the corsage registered more as a symbol of my mum’s makeover-inspired madness than an authentic fashion accessory (I was too busy ogling Miss Sixty denim and belly button bars). But Carrie Bradshaw’s captivation with the corsage always piqued my interest. After all, she is the woman capable of making literally any accessory appealing – not just Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes and Fendi Baguette bags but also knee-high argyle socks and bandanas. Carrie wore her corsages as a choker, she sported them pinned to fur coats, white vest tops and asymmetric minidresses, to meet sexually deviant politicians and engage in bisexual games of Spin the Bottle. She wore them on the streets of Paris in the show’s final season, and even on the set of And Just Like That.

Bottega Veneta Spring Summer 2023. Photography: Salvatore Dragone
Nensi Dojaka Spring Summer 2023. Photrography Daniele Oberrauch

While the corsage has prissy, twee connotations – historically the chosen adornment of prom-bound American teens or green-fingered grannies – the floral fixture is in the midst of a style resurgence. It wasn’t just floral prints that bloomed all over the spring runways. 3D roses blossomed over cardigans and boob tubes, voluminous skirts and dresses, even unfurling as oversized accessories. They trailed like mossy wall coverings at Prada, they were gargantuan on shirting at Dries Van Noten, and they grew like gardeners’ cuttings at Bottega Veneta. Saks Potts, The Garment, Chopova Lowena, Commission and Collina Strada also couldn’t get enough of the corsage.

The key to looking more fashion-forward than fusty is to style your corsage with a bit of edge. Take Chopova Lowena’s spring/summer 2023 collection, which fused the “tacky, pink and wonderful” annual Rose Queen pageant in the Bulgarian village of Kazanlak with aesthetic nods to violent lacrosse playing and heavy metal. Mrs Prada, a diehard corsage fan, styled the rose petals which flowered on demure cardies with a gothic Pat McGrath-executed beauty look featuring creepy, long eyelashes. And Commission, in the cult brand’s signature style, took romantic fashion mainstays, like ruffles and fabric florals, and juxtaposed them with blunt bobs, thick kohl eyeliner and razor-sharp tailoring.

Saks Potts SS23. Photography Andrea Adriani
Chopova Lowena SS23. Image: Launchmetrics.

It-girls can also offer some pointers on how to make the trend feel fresh. For her first postpartum red-carpet appearance in April 2022, Kylie Jenner chose a custom gown by longtime favourite Coperni adorned with latex flowers. Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa and Hailey Bieber, on the other hand, are all fans of Fancì Club. Back in July 2022, Hadid wore a Y2K-throwback denim corset, miniskirt and floral brooch by the Vietnam-based label, while Dua Lipa loves the hot-pink Garden Of Eden Dress and Hailey Bieber recently wore a bespoke black version of the brand’s White Apple Cocktail Dress.

And yet – while we may truly have the runways (and Instagram) to thank for the floral accessory’s recent resurgence – for me, the cult of the corsage will always be associated with the dressing doctrines of Gok Wan. The person who will be most overjoyed with its rosy return? My mum.

This article was originally published on Vogue UK.

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