This month, Cicilia Brognoli looks into the most fashionable prints for summer 2020, giving you a reminder of what we saw on the S/S20 catwalks around the world.

Summer 2020 is the triumph of all kinds of prints. Here there’s a selection of patterns shown on the Spring/Summer 2020 Ready-to-Wear catwalks in September 2019. The variety of designs proposed provides an endless number of colourful statement garments. The combination of lively motifs and fabulous fabrics is the winning combo for trendy outfits. There are two certainties for this summer’s fashion: flowered garments are a MUST, and pattern mix matches are no longer in fashion. Unlike last season, the designers opted for more sober and individually used prints. Here is an overview of the coolest graphics for the hot months.


Floral prints are considered a leitmotif present almost in every summer season, but this year there are dozens of floral variations. Among the varieties of flower-themed patterns, there is the vintage style. Flowery designs with a retro taste and saturated colours tread the catwalks of Oscar de la Renta, Dior, and Marc Jacobs. Anna Sui, Paco Rabanne, and Giambattista Valli opted for soft fabrics and delicate small blossoms. These tiny coloured decorations, if seen from far away, look like polka dots, but actually, they are often pink flowers. Without half measures, these cute buds lay on pastel or on black backgrounds. This choice was shared by many other designers, such as Givenchy and Alexander McQueen, who often offer stylised flowers on sensual and slightly transparent clothes

Finally, there are bright floral prints with equally colourful backgrounds. Erdem proposed almost glossy fabrics and soft silhouettes, which envelop the body without excessively revealing its shape.


Make way for roses: the queens of flowers deserve a special position in the prints hit parade. For example, Chloé plays with roses in two opposing ways. The first proposal is a graceful white outfit with a slightly balloon-shaped skirt looking like a soft cloud. Above it there’s a short-sleeved top that adheres only to the lower part of the belly, and then becomes looser on the chest and shoulders. This top is graciously covered with a stretch of little red roses. The same print is also applied to two corsets, one with shoulder straps and the other strapless. The second is more alluring and is combined with black leather shorts creating an interesting contrast of styles.

Moving to Milan, Antonio Marras designed various outfits with an eyecatching red-roses pattern applied on a layer of very delicate and pastelcoloured blossoms. The juxtaposition is made even more particular with many inserts of black lace.

Meanwhile, London’s Richard Quinn offers theatrical outfits. The giant red rose print is thus applied to completely different but equally intriguing shapes. The well-known model Erin O’Connor wore  a long dress down to the foot. The same pattern is also used for two mermaid dresses embracing the body and enhancing its shape. This sensuality is transferred to some attire with multicoloured flower prints, including red roses, and embellished with feathers and layers of fluffy tulle.


Dior’s collection is certainly inspired by Japanese dyeing methods, including the itajime shibori, a shaped-resist technique creating beautiful geometrical effects. Many other clothes present tie-dye, where a succession of coloured gradients chase each other and mix at times. Alberta Ferretti uses the tie-dye print for small blue decorations fading to white on orange pumpkin backgrounds. Longchamp creates spectacular shades of pink on a kneelength dress in light and pleated fabric. 

Lastly, Versace plays with tie-dye and bright shades of green, purple and pink applied on tights, long-sleeved shirts and sweatshirts.


Natural elements are a predominant part of summer 2020 fashion. Tropicalthemed prints with lots of jungle animals are a touch of exoticism, sometimes ironic. Dolce & Gabbana presents prints with flowers, plants, and fun snouts of zebras, giraffes, and parrots. Exotic patterns are mainly green and in the case of Valentino, they are combined with pink, black, red, or lime backgrounds.

Versace decidedly prefers green and very saturated colours. Donatella Versace for summer 2020 offered a throwback to 2000. Jennifer Lopez has, in fact, walked the catwalk wearing a new interpretation of the dress she had worn at the Grammy Awards 2000. 

Opposite to the strong and daring style of Versace, there’s always Giorgio Armani. For this season he combines tropical leaves and blue backgrounds. Armani uses a single diffuse tropic-style print characterised by only two colours: blue and pink. The slightly shaded effect of the leaves recalls Japanese tie-dye techniques.


The Instagram accounts of many fashionistas are populated with trendy outfits and travel photos. The fashiontravel combination was celebrated by designers such as Sacai and Lela Rose. The first proposed a spectacular globestyle pattern in both black and white and colour prints. Sacai’s globe-shaped bag, tied on the wrist, is an extraordinary playful idea.

Lela Rose pays homage to New York by depicting its skyline and a park, probably Central Park, with the Big Apple skyscrapers in the background. The globetrotter theme is also interpreted by Christopher Kane, who embraces the environmental cause. In fact, the title of his collection is ‘EcoSexual’, and several outfits have the print of planets. These are depicted in large size and they cannot be ignored. Indeed, some sweatshirts feature also the collection’s name, making the combination of eco-sustainability and sensuality remarkable.


Christopher Kane certainly hasn’t chosen prints that go unnoticed for this the summer season. Another type of pattern he used is a spherical motif on shades of orange, which creates a psychedelic effect.

Also, Halpern plays with rounded geometric motifs, but with contrasting colours. A sinuous print in shades of red and teal completely envelops a suit and a long strapless dress. In both cases, the hypnotic print amazes the eye creating a magnificent play of colours. Alberta Ferretti created two psychedelic prints that resemble the wings of a butterfly. This is how these colourful prints seem to fly on graceful fabrics.


In psychedelic prints, geometric shapes chase each other convolutedly and once worn, they come to life producing a succession of moving colours. As a counterpoint, this season’s polka dots are a big trend, but they are used in the classic black and white version.

Sacai proposes two black and white layered outfits. One features a light background, mini and medium-size dots, and sensual transparency on the neckline. Then, the dark attire has the same motifs but a see through skirt and a deep neckline. Carolina Herrera’s runway features six black and white outfits with this evergreen combination of polka dots. Five of them are suitable for everyday occasions, while one is a stunning white tulle gown with a single sleeve and big black polka dots. Without the peachy pink underskirt used on the runway, this would be a very theatrical see through dress. 

Dries Van Noten uses this classic pattern sometimes mixed and matched with other prints, like flowers and animal prints, creating bold outfits. Nevertheless, there are two full polka dots outfits. The first one is a long black trench with huge white dots and the matched handbag has smaller points. The latter proposal is a black dress with a series of sparse white dots.


Stella McCartney proposes stripes in the basic black and white version. She plays with the direction of the pattern: on a pair of baggy trousers the lines are vertical, but on the belt they become horizontal. Meanwhile, a blouse features the stripes in three directions, creating almost an hypnotising effect. 

For Longchamp it’s fine to mix and match garments with different style stripes. Shorts and blouses are matched even if they have different stripes, creating a combination of contrasting geometries. Louis Vuitton mainly chooses thin decorations, almost resembling threads. A couple of outfits instead have a pattern with differentthickness lines, creating a dynamic effect.


After polka dots and lines, another evergreen among the prints is tartan. This is usually associated with the cold season because it’s generally used on warm and heavy fabrics. However, summer 2020 makes this pattern fresh and delicate. 

As for Thom Browne, tartan is revisited in different versions of pastel-coloured tweed. Dior instead shows a stylised black plaid motif on a beige background. Tartan garments are combined with summery straw hats.

Finally, Carolina Herrera gathers many colour variations of tartan, but always with a sober and chic look. Jackets with large balloon sleeves, short skirts, and wrapping dresses feature a cream and black or cream and powder blue plaid pattern. Even the large-buckle belts are in tartan and therefore are barely noticeable.


In addition to the tie-dye, another inspiration from the 1970s is the bohemian style. Long and softsleeved dresses are decorated with geometric and oriental-inspired prints such as paisley and tiny mandalas. Etro styles bohemian dresses with inlaid big-buckled leather belts to emphasise the waist, while Anna Sui uses 70s prints on semi-transparent dresses, often
decorated with ruffles on the neck and cuffs.

Erdem shows yellow and green bohemian outfits. These feature very tiny floral and geometric motifs. The yellow proposal is a maxi skirt with a fitted blazer and ribbons on the cuffs. The green one is again a long skirt matched with a short-sleeved ruffled blouse. The interesting fact of these outfits is that they look like dresses if seen from far away.

For print lovers, this is definitely the right season, and they can indulge themselves in colourful and never boring outfits. The multitude of patterns proposed for summer 2020 is truly crazy. From the most classic, but revisited, flower prints, to newer ones like globe graphics, the garments of this season maintain simpler silhouettes to emphasise their colourful and busy fabrics. 

Everyone will wear something flowery, and for the most adventurous there are exotic motifs even depicting animals snouts. For the more sober tastes there is a wide choice of geometric designs. Summer is here and the chance to show off your looks could be right around the corner, so it’s time to open your wardrobe and see what can be added to show off the most creative outfits.

You can read more of Cicilia’s work on Image credits: Rohmir – Ian Clark; Hazzy’s, Alice Archer, Edeline Lee, Push Button, Paul Costelloe, Alexa Chung, Halpern, Malan Breton – Fil Mazzarino

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