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Maarten Van Der Horst For Topshop — The Wonders Of Waikiki

Floral prints may be in full bloom for Spring and Summer 2012, but don’t expect shrinking violets and timid wallflowers. Thanks to designers like Joseph Altuzarra, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, and Dutch designer Maarten Van Der Horst, floral motifs are more audacious and exotic than ever, often referencing tropical destinations, lush rainforests, and imperial gardens.

The new Maarten Van Der Horst for Topshop collection replicates many of prints the neophyte designer’ showcased in his “Fashion East SS12” show during London Fashion Week  — particularly the Hawaiian overtones. Part of Topshop’s ongoing designer collaboration series, the  seven-piece collection includes boxy shirts and blazers that exude masculinity via their silhouettes but ooze femininity through their bold floral graphics, along with high-waisted Bermuda shorts that feel like they belong in one of The Descendant’s most heart-wrenching and awkward moments (think of the George-Clooney-running-in-mandals scene), retro-flavored button-down dresses and cropped tanks and tees in an ’80s-esque hot pink.

The capsule collection’s key piece is the  Maarten Van Der Horst for Topshop Hawaiian Blazer ( £140.00 at Topshop.com), pictured at top, a single-breasted jacket with a single button made of 100% cotton and featuring bits of heavy jacquard fabric to make the piece appear sturdier and more industrial. Though it doesn’t go as far as to include shoulder pads, this blazer definitely creates a boxy silhouette meant to play with notions of masculinity and femininity and, of course, to present a tougher interpretation of what’s chic and sexy. The severity of the blazer’s shape is then juxtaposed against a gutsy print consisting of oversize palm-like leaves against a black backdrop and vanilla-colored, orchid-like blossoms sprinkled throughout these branches, their buds revealing hints of blood orange color.

Van Der Horst’s decision to incorporate Hawaiian prints was a bold one — after all, if done incorrectly, they can look like they belong in the suitcase of a cruise-bound geriatric — and it pays off in pieces like the aforementioned blazer. In other instances, like the sky blue, high-waisted, 100% cotton Maarten Van Der Horst for Topshop Hawaiian Shorts (£60.00 Topshop.com), shown last above, which feature cuffed hems and a concealed button and zipper closure, the gamble proves to be a losing hand. No matter the styling, it’s hard to imagine these shorts outside a retirement community.

Aside from the signature Hawaiian print, with its emphasis on lush green palm leaves, there’s a hibiscus flower print that emerges on two short-sleeved, 100% silk, button-down dresses. The Maarten Van Der Horst for Topshop Light Blue Floral Print Dress (£120.00 at Topshop.com), shown second from top, features cream-colored plastic buttons running vertically down the center of the garment, a Mandarin-style collar, a waist tie belt, and the orchid print in parchment paper cream, deep sunset-worthy coral red and orange, and sepia brown. The Maarten Van Der Horst for Topshop  Black Floral Print Dress (£120.00 Topshop.com) features the same silhouette and print but in a more versatile, basic black color.

In addition to floral print garments, the collection also includes a few bike-ready tees and tanks in a fluorescent pink, as with the Maarten Van Der Horst for Topshop Oversized Tee (£45.00 at Topshop.com) shown here. Though these pieces are meant for clever layering and mixing and matching, they feel disjointed from the rest of the collection. Sure, one could conceivably match an oversize pink tee with the Hawaiian print shorts, but why would one want to?

All in all, the one  lei-worthy piece in this Oahu-inspired oeuvre is the blazer, a piece that captures the botanical blossom trend in an innovative and exciting manner.

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