Artificial Flowers in Fashion and Decor. July 01 2013

History records differ somewhat as to the origin of the craft of artificial flower making and artificial flower popularity. The popular take on the history of artificial flowers is that the craft seems to have originated from France and Italy as a home craft, to embellish home-made fashion around the 1600s. For the next couple of hundred years these countries seemed to have perfected of the craft of artificial flower making and it then spread around the globe as a domestic or cottage craft.

In the mid to late 1800s artificial flower making then became a commercial industry due to the beautiful looks being achieved by some artificial flower makers and the way they transformed the look of an ordinary dress or suit into something beautiful and eye-catching. Some men even joined the artificial flower fashion accessory revolution by wearing artificial rose, gardenia and carnation buds and flowers as suit lapel decoration.

Around about the late 1800s these, for that time, more refined artificial flower fashion decorations were beginning to be given longer stems so that they could be vase supported and decorate interior furniture and the like. These artificial long stem flowers were popular due to their realistic emulation of their natural counterpart and of course their ability to keep on blooming.

The craft of artificial flower making then seemed to divide into two main industries, short stem artificial flowers for fashion and long stem artificial flowers for decor or interior decoration.

In the 1920s in Australia and worldwide it seems that women would not venture outside without wearing some artificial flower decoration on their clothes and on their hats. Also artificial flower making was also booming as a home craft, and every household had a set of French artificial flower making tools (almost as common as knitting needles). Also the artificial flower making industry was booming in Australia with many small factories starting up in Sydney and Melbourne.

Today the craft of individual artificial flower making or French flower making is rare, and not the popular cottage industry that has been in the past. In Australia most millinery or hat making courses generally touch on artificial flower making and only some milliners take on perfecting the craft.

Long stem artificial flowers for interior decoration seems to have come into their own around the 1950s when improved plastic moulding technologies enabled mass production. These plastic flowers became a very common sight in kitchens and lounge rooms around the world in the early to mid 60s. It seems because long stem artificial flowers for interior decoration purposes were viewed from a slightly more distant aspect (and for the technology of the day they seemed quite a good long-lasting alternative) that they were acceptable for this purpose. Plastic flowers never really took off in the artificial flower ‘fashion’ market, probably due to their relative heavyweight, crude colouring and obvious imperfections when viewed close up.

In the early to mid 70s the introduction of polyester long stem artificial flowers revolutionised the industry and the use of this new synthetic fabric technology enabled long stem artificial flowers to be lightweight and display beautiful printed colours, just as good as their fashion counterparts with the added bonus that they were also washable. Hence an early polyester industry name ‘washable silks’ or ‘poly silks’.

These long stem washable silk artificial flowers were starting to look so good that people were starting to cut the stems off and wear the flowers for popular fashion decoration. This was occurring in Australia about the same time as the psychedelic coloured ‘flower power’ fashion epidemic of the 70s.

Today artificial flowers have come a long way! Now we have artificial flowers for fashion and decoration that look and feel indistinguishable from the natural originals. They are lightweight, to a degree washable, rain resistant, hypoallergenic, colourfast and do not wilt or die. It seems the next popular revolution for artificial flowers is happening now, in the wedding and bridal event industry. With artificial flowers, bouquets and floral venue decorations looking so good, and being so reliable for the big day, brides are choosing the artificial alternative en mass.

Bradford Potter Pty Ltd ( have been making and importing artificial flowers in Australia since 1924 and are the only specialist artificial flower manufacturers in Australia today. Bradford Potter Pty Ltd ( has the unique ability to make, colour shade, adjust, combine and arrange their own make silk flowers with imported artificial flowers if required, to get a personally unique look.

Take a look at just some of our custom made flowers here. Artificial flowers have a solid place now and throughout history as a reliable, durable, decorative and practical alternative to natural flower decoration.

If you are considering using artificial flowers for your fashion and or decoration requirements consider contacting silk flowers ( for friendly advice or a quotation.