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Textile Trend Story - We Look at the Work of Maria Sibylla Merian in 'The Botanist'

Textile Trend Story - We Look at the Work of Maria Sibylla Merian in 'The Botanist'

Cover Image: Lucia O'Connor McCarthy

On the Tactile Trends blog we love telling trend stories.

We love uncovering curious and forgotten places, tapping into the weird and wonderful life of fictional or non fictional characters and most of all we love making it relevant, bringing it back to textiles and meaningful trends.

For this months textile trend story we explore the fascinating world of 17th century botanicals with a fearless mother, artist and adventurer called Maria Sibylla Merian.

Merian was the first woman to challenge theories of metamorphosis through her scientific knowledge and art but was largely discarded until the 20th century when her work was re-visited and upheld as ground breaking for its time. Today it is simply said, 'she was ahead of her time'.

Merian's hand painted blooms and insect studies flutter excitement in us as we imagine her perilous odyssey in the pursuit of uncovering nature, her lifelong ambition was to educate, inspire and challenge the status quo for centuries to come.

Merian’s art and attitude inspires bravery, curiosity and transformation. 


Merian's illustrated metamorphosis of insects and plants encourages us to look at beginnings and transformation. Materials follow suite with the emphasis on the life cycle of a fabric. We deeply question the beginnings of our fabrics journey looking to grain, crops and flowers. Brands look to educate on the when, where and how?

Images: Joe Ferguson | Sarah Jagger |  Life Giving LinenMaria Sybilla Merian


Science leads Art

Nature flourishes on the pages of Merian's journals informed by science and communicated with artistic flair. When science and art combine, materials offer us more integrity. We look at Carole Collet's biolace as a specific example.

Images: Jon CromwellMaria Sybilla Merian | Carole ColletSaadique Ryklief


Nature lives on to inspire fabric artwork, patterning and processes through precious observations, recordings and collections. 

Images: Katja Mayer | Diane Lim


Rendered Nature

Weaves, knits, embroideries and trims are sensitively influenced by the detailed rendering of insects wings and textures of gouache applied by Merian.

Images: Phil DeggingerStella Maria BaerMaria Sybilla Merian | NARS

Little Wing

Laces and embroideries take flight in iridescent web like structures mimicking the barely there structure of insects wings.

Images: Lisa VanStudio Femke Roefs | Dr Bronwen Cribb | Kuhn Photo 


We have seen literal insect inspired trends for a few seasons now, for example Gucci's Fall 2017 insect knuckle dusters, or the Spring 2017 Rodarte bee inspired collection. 

What 'The Botanist' aims to do is evolve those nature inspired messages into something less blatant. At its core 'The Botanist' captures key fabric macro trends of transformation and preservation highlighting the growing need to acknowledge and most importantly communicate textile process and provenance.

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