Known as the “gardener of fashion” the American designer’s legacy is being revived in a new collection by Gucci …
Long before the term “flower power” was invented, American fashion designer Ken Scott was using large-scale flowers from peonies to poppies on everything – including bikinis, bedlinen, wallpaper and furniture. The print happy American started his career as a painter and counted Marc Chagall and Peggy Guggenheim as friends, who organised exhibitions on his behalf. His fashion career took off in the 1950s when Christian Dior fortuitously used one of his prints in a collection. This prompted Scott to move to Milan, where, together with Vittorio Fiorazzo, he launched his own textile brand Falconetto. “Ken was doing psychedelic colourings before anyone even knew what psychedelic was all about,” said a Manhattan fashion illustrator in an interview in Time magazine in 1968. “Nobody dares to put colour next to colour the way he does.”
Fans included Audrey Hepburn, Twiggy, Jackie Kennedy and Brigitte Bardot, who were no doubt drawn to his synthetic dresses in colour combinations of lemon yellow, pumpkin, hot pink and pepper green or mauve, purple, chalk white, electric pink and black. At other times, his models twirled down the runways wearing flower-print jersey in every shade of pink, from begonia, bougainvillea and poinsettia to lobster, raspberry, strawberry and watermelon.
Chic decoristas, meanwhile, loved his maximalist floral wallpapers and upholstery. When Scott lived in Milan (during the 1960s and 1970s) he once covered the luxe shopping street via Montenapoleone with a huge floral printed carpet and also opened a restaurant covered by his flower prints whose name was simply “Eats and drinks”.
On hindsight, Scott was avant garde, and it’s no surprise he has found a fan in Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s Creative Director – no wallflower himself when it comes to colour or print. “Ken Scott was a really great creator of fabrics – he mapped out flowers with romanticism and flowers into pop culture,” says Michele. “He treated flowers like shop signs, he multiplied them, turned them into something that stood out. I like his work because I am obsessed with floral prints.”
Designs from Scott’s archive appear in a new collection of clothing and accessories for Gucci. In the campaign shoot, photographed by Mark Peckezian, Scott’s patterns were customised to produce the wallpaper, curtains, tablecloths and cushions – creating an ambiance of intense colour and clashing prints.
Scott’s prints often pop up on vintage sites, while La Double J has also created a capsule collection using his designs. Today, Ken Scott is a brand of Mantero, a renowned textile company, and designs from Scott’s archive are preserved by the Ken Scott Foundation, now based in Como.
Need to Know: To celebrate the Ken Scott pieces, the Gucci Podcast includes a special episode featuring Shahidha Bari – writer, academic, critic and Professor of Fashion Cultures and Histories at London College of Fashion at the University of the Arts London. Bari narrates a story about Scott’s life, work and his legacy to contemporary fashion.
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