For centuries, floral prints have spectacularly bloomed somewhere in the fashion and home decor world. And while florals trends – like any trend – fade into history over time, designers seeking inspiration from the past quickly resurrect these long forgotten patterns and styles. However, modern and vintage florals alike can have the tendency to resemble patterns akin to your grandmothers brocade curtains, your great aunt’s wallpaper, or even an English spring garden exploding with a multitude of different coloured flowers. I much prefer timeless floral prints of the subtler, orderly persuasion; like this vintage dusty pink and plum floral pattern from the 1970s.
Memories can also be spontaneously resurrected and invoked by simple things: like a fleeting whiff of a long forgotten favourite perfume as a stranger passes by; chancing upon a love poem from an old boyfriend amongst a box of old letters and birthday cards; or seeing a cringe worthy trend you wore in 1980s now back in fashion and adorning the high street shops (think shoulder pads, scrunchies, chokers). For me, this beautiful 1970s dusty pink floral vintage dress brings back memories of my Aunt Helga, as she and the designer share the same name. I immediately fell in love with the dress and its classic style, sheer puff sleeves and understated floral pattern when searching for vintage fashion treasure on 1stdibs; and perhaps was subconsciously drawn to the designer name as well.
One of the other joys of buying vintage, especially by lesser-known designers, is journeying back in time and discovering their stories. Helga the brand was established in California in the late 1940s by the Oppenheimer’s and named after Helga Kallman Oppenheimer who designed suits, dresses and evening clothes that were sold in specialty stores. The story of Helga is particularly delightful as the owners of the brand were of German descent, of which my family on my mothers side are too. Both Walter and Helga Oppenheimer were born in Berlin and later met in London while working in the fashion and retail industry. Immigrating to the US in 1938, they lived in New York before moving to San Francisco after World War II and established their fashion business Helga Inc.
This vintage dress by Helga evokes memories of my Aunty Helga and stories of my German descendants, who too ventured out from Germany and settled in faraway places like the USA, Chile and Australia. And finding and wearing a floral vintage dress which looks feminine and modern today is part of the magical joy of vintage. Contrasting the delicate, sheer fabric with heavy winter brown suede, the pink and plum tones pair perfectly with these modern Jimmy Choo brown boots to give an added pop to the vintage floral print. Who knew when I bought this floral vintage dress a few years ago that pink, florals and brown would now be trending on the runways; which just goes to show that vintage floral is timeless, and ‘what goes around – eventually comes around’ in the fashion world.
1970s Helga vintage floral dress | Jimmy Choo boots | Dior sunglasses
Photos by Gina Jenkin – ZEN Events & Photography Services