Iconic blue-and-white patterned ceramics originated in 14th-century China, later emerging in traditional Dutch Delftware and 18th-century European porcelain. Intricate toile motifs, in shades from the palest cornflower to bold cobalt, glide over white lace and cascading chiffons at Ralph & Russo, for a look that’s both antiquely fragile and timelessly feminine.
Elaborately woven works of metal and wire inspire ornate, filigree-themed styles at Fendi, Marchesa and Elie Saab, channelling the metalwork technique popular throughout 16th- to 18th-century Europe. Graceful scrolls from 5,000 hand-cut holes turn the rose-coloured Persian lamb fur into a long lace dress in Fendi, while brocades in precious-metal swirls of antiqued silver and gold shine at Saab and Marchesa.
One of the world’s oldest artistic traditions, native Chinese painting, uses a fine brushstroke technique to execute highly detailed designs in coloured pigments. Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad take cue from the vivid style of bird-and-flower painting: exotically vibrant flora and fauna splashed upon a pure white backdrop.
In a nod to the theatrical, heavily embellished fashions of the Renaissance and Elizabethan eras, designers including Valentino and Fendi emerge with dramatically layered, voluminous styles. Silks, velvets, and brocades meet petticoats, full sleeves, and ruffled collars, bestowed with gilded detail and ornate embroidery.
Dating back to the Middle Ages, watercolour painting gained popularity since the Renaissance, peaking during the 18th and 19th centuries. From the sepia blossoms of Chinese watercolours to Monet’s luminous transparency, the bloom of delicate petals and colour-washed pastels add romance to essentially feminine forms and flighty, gauzy fabrics.
The timeless beauty of classical Greek sculpture shows up in flawlessly simple silhouettes and the all-white hues of creamy marble. At Dior and Ralph & Russo, artful draping minimally adorns straight, column-like sheaths of streaming, fluid satins, and asymmetrical one-shouldered cuts allude to the traditional togas dressing Greek and Roman statues.