Tattoos inspired by botanical vintage Gucci scarves – 71Bait

Flowers are practically a byword when it comes to beauty, art design, and yes, even tattoos. Just look at the classic Gucci scarf adorned with a pattern of stylish plants and flower petals that has become a mainstay of the brand.

It’s historical. It was Italian artist Vittorio Accornero who designed Gucci’s historic Flora print scarf in the 1960s, and the same vintage pattern is available in the brand’s stores today. He signed many of his scarf patterns with his signature “V. Accornero”.

This scarf was inspired by Princess Grace Kelly, who rushed into a Gucci store in the 1960s looking for a floral scarf as a wedding present for a friend. They didn’t have one, but when Rodolfo Gucci heard about it, he commissioned Accornero, a popular illustrator, to do the work in honor of Kelly, Princess of Monaco. Some of these scarf designs were revived in 2002 when Gucci designer Frida Gianni revived the patterns on multiple items, from bags to shoes.

But beyond the signature red rose, floral tattoos are having a renaissance this fall — and not just because Jared Leto wore a Gucci scarf-inspired look to Vogue World’s New York Fashion Week runway show.

That means everything from sunflowers to blue roses, daffodils, lilies and lavender in colorful ink are popular. In fact, we see old botanical illustrations in the 18th centuryth Century-inspired Gucci scarves are at the core of inspiration for a tattoo artist who specializes in botanically-inspired tattoos.

“Flowers are beauty in themselves,” said Dong-hwa Kim, a tattoo artist and expert in the field.

She draws inspiration from art history, such as Renaissance and Impressionism, and gives everyone a sublime, high-art edge. Kim refers to old botanical illustrations from the 18th centuryth Century as inspiration for their tattoos.

These scientific designs were the pre-photographic way of documenting plant life. Today, these botanical illustrations are valued for their classic, vintage forms.

“I always refer to old plant illustrations when designing,” Kim said. “Nature’s curves and vintage colors are so impressive and essentially timeless. And who can do that better than Gucci?”

The first book of botanical illustrations goes back to the Greek botanist Pedanius Dioscorides, who published a book entitled The materia medica. But later, in the 18th century, it was a specific job and the German artist Maria Sibylla Merian was at the forefront of her field, painting natural history paintings of plants and insects.

Another highly respected botanical illustrator was Pierre-Joseph Redouté, a royal flower painter hired by Marie Antoinette, who painted the classic French rose.

Among the other botanical illustration artists were Franz and Ferdinand Bauer, part of the golden age of natural history illustration around 1750, Pierre Jean François Turpin, one of the master botanical watercolourists, and the English artists Anne Pratt and Marianne North.

“Flowers lend themselves well to patterning, which is why the botanical Gucci scarf has stayed in their collections for decades,” Kim said. “It can be a bold, large pattern or a cute, smaller dot-like pattern. Either way, plants and palm trees are great subjects to work with as a decorative design.”

Kim has tattooed hundreds of unique flowers on clients over the past few years. She said many people plan birth flowers or get tattooed bouquets on their birthday by weaving together birth flowers from specific family members — it’s like a kind of special heirloom and a private code at that.

“As a result, there is only one design for this person and their family in the world,” Kim said. “I get a lot of requests like this because it’s truly a custom tattoo designed for this family. It’s incredibly personal.”

The meaning of each flower tattoo ranges from symbolizing one’s birth flower (the flower associated with one of the twelve months of the calendar year) to honoring the departed who have thrust themselves into the spotlight.

Flowers are still a strong symbol in fashion today, beyond the Gucci scarf. Luxury brands like Jill Scott, Hermes, Christopher Kane and Fendi have also featured botanical prints on everything from tailored suits to handbags and ties.

Smaller brands like Wallis also use botanical illustrations for garments like dresses, while brands like Julia Berolzheimer and Bindu keep coming up with new looks inspired by botanical fashion collages.

“It seems like many brands are turning to botanical illustrations, and different approaches from designers take us to a tropical paradise through silks and kaftans,” she said. “I think it goes back to a combination of wanting to strive for classic beauty and wanting to have an individual identity in a diverse world. In a uniformed society, that might be a way to stand out.”

As a tattoo artist, Kim says this fall is all about sunflowers and roses. “Sunflowers symbolize a positive spirit and sometimes represent wealth,” Kim said. I think roses are the queen of flowers. It’s a classic of the classics. But I also tattooed peonies, lotus flowers, irises, chrysanthemums and cherry blossoms.”

Let’s face it, flowers and botany will never go out of style. Therefore, they act as permanent ink. “Flowers have long been a symbol of beauty,” Kim said. “Looking back at classic beauty has a special meaning today, it takes us back in time to appreciate beauty in its purest form.”

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