Butterflies - one of the greatest Haute Couture inspirations

Butterflies - one of the greatest Haute Couture inspirations

May 10, 2017

Butterflies are one of the top motifs amongst almost all designer and luxury brands. Haute Couture and butterflies seem to be closely connected. Where does this trend come from? Why are designers so obsessed with butterflies? And why are butterflies so diverse and colourful in the first place?

Ever since butterflies have been a popular motif in luxury across all cultures. May it be the intense colours, the innovative colour combinations, mystical patterns or the miraculous metamorphosis; Butterflies don’t cease to inspire writers, artists and designers. 


What Butterflies and Fashion have in common

The endless variation of butterfly wings seem to have much in common with the variations and designs of Haute Couture. In both worlds – Nature and Haute Couture – each colour and pattern has its meaningful purpose. Some butterflies show off their deadly poison by having flashy warning colours while others just pretend to be poisonous. Some blend in their environment with perfect camouflage patterns and others have such shiny blue wings that they can attract another female from over 8 km distance.

Across all luxury brands butterflies are currently used as a main motif. Examples of Hermès, Valentino, Stella McCartney, Lanvin, Dior and Vogue


Alexander McQueen's inspiration

Their colourful wings can be seen as statement pieces telling much about its wearer. Alexander McQueen always was drawing his inspiration from natural elements especially from butterflies. Alexander McQueen was one of the first fashion designers who saw the great potential of the natural patterns and colours of butterfly wings. Allegedly his butterfly designs are inspired by his childhood memories. His butterfly headdresses designs, he got made by Philip Treacy (made out of hand-painted turkey feathers), are until today famous proof of his early butterfly fascination. They were even displayed during his “Alexander McQueen: Beauty Savage” exhibition 2014 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.


Designers & Brands inspired by butterflies

In the last years Haute Couture designers across all brands rediscovered the beauty of butterflies and their wings. Besides at Alexander McQueen, this trend can now be seen at brands like Dior, Nancy Gonzalez, Chanel, Sophia Webster, Silvia Furmanovich, Gucci, Katrantzou, Ralph & Russo, Hèrmes, Stella McCartney, Bottega Veneta, Gaultier and even more. Butterflies are the absolute stars within the fashion animal kingdom.

Haute Couture inspired by butterflies. Examples of Ralph&Russo, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Chanel, Sophia Webster and Katrantzou

Three brands butterflies are an important motif for

The following three brands, Valentino, Gucci and Sophia Webster,  are particular examples of how the nature of butterfly was inspiring large designers:

  1. Valentino’s “Camubutterlfy” Collection created in Spring 2015 is an extraordinary example of this trend. Camoubutterfly is a unique mixture of camouflage and colourful butterfly depictions. Some of them are depicting real butterfly species, some are just fantasy animals. After this exceptional Valentino collection butterflies just seem be found among all luxury brands. The following video of Valentino gives a great insight into this unique campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoxD3ucjW6Y
  1. Another designer which is particularly fascinated by butterflies is the creative director of Gucci, Alessandro Michele. He was not only the one who strongly used the butterfly motif at Gucci from in 2015 onwards, but he also was responsible for dressing Harrod’s store windows with butterflies in summer 2017.
  1. Last but not least, Sophia Webster is another great example of the inspiring effect of butterflies. She reveals in an interview with ELLE that her iconic butterfly shoe was already a part of her final collection at the Royal College of Art. She said she was so fascinated by butterfly wings and their diverse “amazing patterns and colours which go on like hidden codes” that she created later a full collection with it. They even were purposely using iridescent and metallic paint on their items to imitate the unique shine of butterfly wings.

Butterfly wings are one of the greatest inspirations in fashion. It’s worth to have a look at the butterfly exhibitions of, for example, the Natural History Museum in London or boutiques like Deyrolle in Paris where butterflies in all shapes, sizes and colours can be seen. That is at least, where Haute Couture designers currently draw their inspiration from.

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