Designers Draw Inspiration From Nature As Their Muse For The CatwalkBy Abigail T
World-renown fashion designer, Coco Chanel, made a beautiful statement at her 1969 collection presentation: “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Many designers draw their inspiration from the beautiful colors, patterns, and textures found in nature’s natural wonders. Jill Sherman is the vision behind the aesthetically pleasing Instagram profile, @fashion.biologique. She is dedicated to showing the similarities between fashion and nature’s diverse elements. We have crafted a list of 45 of the most captivating side-by-side photos of clothing next to their natural inspirations. You will be surprised by the many motifs inspired by different aspects like the hues of sunset, flowers blooming in spring, and the feathers on an exotic bird. It’s time to be amazed at just how much nature has impacted the world of fashion.
Sometimes, it’s not just the colors in nature that make it onto the dress. Sometimes it’s the entire structure of the living organism. Take this layered dress, for example. It takes both color and design from the Hygrocybe lanecovensis mushroom.
This mushroom is an Australian waxcap mushroom and is actually endangered. Currently, it can only be found at Lane Cove Bushland Park in Sydney. If you look closely, the dress has shades of red, pink, and orange in it, thanks to designer Schiaparelli.
As you will soon see, many exotic birds serve as inspiration to runway looks. This is the masked crimson tanager, native of Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador among other places. Its plumage is predominantly crimson red and deep black, making it the perfect inspiration for a winter look-book.
Here, the designer, Yohji Yamamoto, even incorporated the asymmetrical coloring on the bird’s chest in the design. The red part of the coat is a beautiful off-shouldered affair. The model’s hair has hues of blues, perhaps demonstrating this birds’ favorite treat: berries.
The colors of this next look by Gosia Bazyńska pay homage to the plumes of the White-faced Ibis bird. While the cut of the dress itself is nothing new, the color is what makes this fashion item stand out in the crowd.
This bird’s appearance shifts from brown or black to purples, greens, and bronze in the right lighting. The Ibis can be found in most continents except Antarctica. This bird is effortlessly beautiful, and its uniquely colorful attributes make for great fashion inspiration.
Orange Is The New Black
This next insect is a Graphosoma italicum or the Striped Shield Bug. The black stripes on its orange surface are well interpreted into this dress. Even the shades are almost identical! The bright colors on this bug are meant to come as a warning to predators to stay away.
Designer, Dries Van Noten, originally from Antwerp, Belgium, began his fashion career at the age of 18. Since then, he has had the opportunity to dress many noteworthy people, including the Queen of Belgium and actors for the Academy Awards.
Crab Polka Dots
The following fun number is based on an equally fun creature that resides in the sea. The red polka dots were inspired by the Trapezia rufopunctata, more commonly known as the Red-Spotted Coral Crab. The white shell and red spots made their way onto this whimsical dress with a matching sun hat.
The Red-Spotted Coral Crab can be found crab-walking through the waters of the Indo-pacific. They are called guard crabs because they guard Acropora and Pocillopora corals, living in branches for their entire lives! Designer John Rocha did a fantastic job incorporating this small 2-inch creature into his design.
The White-faced Ibis bird isn’t the only bird with festive feathers. This next bird is known as a male Copper-throated Sunbird. The male bird of this species is the one to have the gorgeous plumage to attract a female mate.
There are so many fascinating and beautiful birds whose feathers are reason to stop and stare. We are glad that designer Cappuci incorporated these colors in his piece and in his accessories as well. The copper on the bird’s neck screams runway.
This dress-to-nature comparison is the most accurate one we’ve seen so far. For one thing, just the colors would have been pretty easy to nail because it’s just a simple black and white. But the designer outdid themselves with the pattern.
Even the boots were also colored and patterned to resemble The Goliath Orientalis. The way the dress is cinched at the waist resembles that separation between the beetle’s head and its body. The attention to detail by Alexander McQueen is impressive.
Shark teeth would probably be your last point of inspiration to create a dress out of everything you can find in nature. But that didn’t stop this particular designer, Noir Kei Ninomiya, from going with it and making this bizarre piece of fashion.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s not what shark teeth look like!” we were equally confused. The Port Jackson shark actually has this unique set of teeth. These sharks are found nearer to the seabed, and their teeth are used for crushing hard-shelled animals like mollusks or crabs.
The monochrome color scheme has been a part of fashion for as long as anyone can remember. Nothing can go wrong with black and white. Nobody knows this as well as the Banded Alder Borer, who rocks monochrome all its life.
Fun fact about these beetles- they are attracted to the scent of drying paint. It is believed that the smell is similar to the smell of pheromones produced by these insects. We love how designer Balmain really incorporated the different color blocks of the beetle into his final look.
Wild Mushroom Dress
The variety of mushrooms you can find in the wild will leave you amazed. There are many colors, shapes, textures, and sizes that belong to the fungi family. The Cyptotrama asprata, better known as the Gold Tuft, is the inspiration for this bright sunny look.
Yohji Yamamoto, the designer of the black and crimson red dress we saw before, is the genius behind this dress as well. His most recent pieces are primarily structured black coats and dresses. It is lovely to see the variety this designer can bring forth.
Jellyfish can serve as inspiration for fashion too. Ruffles can be based on sea creatures just as much as they can be based on fungi. Just take a look at this next outfit on the runway based on Crowned or Cauliflower Jellyfish.
The predominant purple and yellow colors are almost the exact same shade as the sea creature. The structure of the ruffles makes this model look like she’s gliding down the runway, the way a jellyfish glide through the ocean. This Spanish fashion brand by María Munro beautifully captured this exquisite creature.
A Shark’s Influence
This next dress is a showstopper on the runway. Its see-through, mesh-like material is dotted with white polka dots, much like the skin on this Rhincodon typus, better known as the whale shark. While the colors scheme is simple, the cut of the dress is what makes it stand out.
Who knew that a series of white polka dots on black fabric could be so iconic? Nature may show us extravagance from time to time, but it can also remind us to go back to the basics. We are not surprised that this dress comes from none other than the fabulous brand Givenchy.
When a living organism emits light, it’s called bioluminescence. This occurs mainly in marine life. This next runway dress is inspired by the Stellamedusa ventana, an extremely rare jellyfish that has only been spotted seven times! Stellamedusa is Latin for “star bell.”
This rare jellyfish is an honor to use as inspiration for a runway design. We can thank none other than Giorgio Armani for this creation. As he once said, “Elegance is not about being noticed, it’s about being remembered.”
Here’s another gorgeous piece inspired by nature. This time, the dress takes its colors from this transparent-winged, iridescent creature, the Patania ruralis or the Mother of Pearl Moth. The designer of this delicate and dainty piece is Anne Valerie Hash.
The cropped covering has the same translucent quality as the moth’s wings, with a slightly iridescent shimmer. The dress cups also have the same blue and pink tones to them. It’s such a gorgeous piece that we would be honored to wear.
We’ve seen dresses inspired by birds, fish, and fungi. Now get ready to see one inspired by flora. This dress takes inspiration from the beautiful and bold colors of this orchid. But that’s not all! The entire structure of the dress bears a resemblance to the flower also.
The shape of the dress really imitates this flower’s unique petal formation. Even the vibrant colors of whites and purples at the center are a homage to the flower’s center. Guillermo Mariotto is the designer to thank for this creation.
This gorgeous piece drew inspiration from a unique deep-sea creature that many have never encountered. This is the Prostheceraeus vittatus, better known as the Candy Striped Flatworm. The dress’s white ruffles with black outlines are similar to those on the marine flatworm found in the waters of Western Europe.
This sea creature is unmistakable. It comes in a few different shades of white with black stripes that make it stand out in a crowd. This dress very beautifully structures multiple flatworm-like pieces over one another to form movement, not unlike the way the flatworm moves underwater.
At first glance, the print on this jumpsuit may confuse you. With its yellow and brownish-black stains, it can be believed that this designer took inspiration from an old banana peel. But upon further inspection, especially considering the cut of the dress, it’s actually based on a moth.
If you see the asymmetry on the top half of the jumpsuit, it looks exactly like a moth when its wings are fully spread. This Pseudopanthera macularia is more commonly known as the Speckled Yellow Moth. Dries Van Noten is also responsible for this piece of artwork.
When we see the texture of this dress, we immediately associate it with a cactus or a type of plant. But there is a more accurate texture and pattern in nature that resembles this texture much more. Can you guess what it is?
This interesting foot belongs to the Phelsuma madagascariensis, also known as the Madagascar Day Gecko. Eva Soto is the designer behind this exciting and outgoing green outfit. Despite the bumpy texture of their skin, this animal has surprisingly soft skin.
Deep Sea Shimmer
Designer Christian Cowan came up with this fascinating piece using a shimmery holographic material. As it turns out, this beautiful light-refracting work of art was inspired by a deep-sea creature, a Eunice aphroditois. The purple iridescence hue of this creature made for a glamourous runway look.
There’s no telling what lies in the deep ocean. There are still millions of species yet to be unveiled. This “sand striker worm” was discovered in Japan. Don’t be fooled by it’s its gorgeous glow; this worm has the ability to slice its prey in half!
Incoming: one of the most extravagant dresses we’ve ever seen. This is a colony of Clavelina picta, better known as Painted Tunicates. This fascinating creature is found on corals and sponges. As the colony continues to grow, it looks more and more like a cluster of flowers.
This dress, similar to the other purple tulle dress based on marine life, was created by María Munro. Munro’s clothing line is known as Reveligion. A quick look at their Instagram shows many dresses in a similar style.
Nature has proven that it can provide us with the most vibrant colors. From the million shades of the sunset to electric blues in the deep ocean to the vibrant colors on birds’ feathers, nature really is the biggest inspiration.
While this dress may not be inspired by the Blue-naped Chlorophonia bird structurally, the colors are spot on. The bird’s plumage’s greens, blues, and yellows are well represented in the dress’s bodice and skirt. We are not surprised to find out that this dress was designed by none other than Yohji Yamamoto.
This next outfit may not make sense to most, but we can’t deny it is fascinating. The structure of this jacket is an intriguing one. It seems to have no sleeves, just zipped down the front. Although it looks like this is a flower, the Beehive Ginger is made up of leaves that grow in a cone shape.
The ginger lily plant is also known as the shampoo ginger lily. In nature, these plants can actually be used as a natural shampoo. You can create suds just by squeezing the leaves together and using the sap on your hair.
We are interested to know more about this futuristic-looking creature. This insect has a transparent body adorned with spikes that don’t look sharp at all. Although it seems soft to touch, it should be noted that it has a gooey exterior that is used as protection against the elements of the rainforest.
This dress bears an almost uncanny resemblance to the rare Dalceridae larvae, which is better known as a Jewel Caterpillar. The designer of this interestingly complicated piece is Noir Ker Ninomiya.
This dress might be the least bizarre runway item we’ve seen throughout this list. Despite its bright yellow color, it’s pretty straightforward and looks like something we’d actually wear to an event. This piece takes snakeskin in a completely different direction, and we love it for that.
While the dress didn’t take on the patterns and textures of the snake’s scales, it did mimic the colors. This snake is the Mangrove or Yellow-Ringed Cat Snake. This dress is part of the Balmain collection, a luxury French fashion house with locations in all the hottest locations.
Black and White
No, you’re not seeing this photo in black and white. It’s just how the runway is lit, and the model is made up. No, this is not a rare black and white ladybug. This is actually based on the Therea petiveriana, otherwise known as the desert cockroach.
No, this is not a rare black and white ladybug. This cockroach can be found in Sri Lanka. The designer really took the spirit of the insect in his design by creating a hat that resembles the head of the cockroach.
This dress is undoubtedly eruptive, as its print is inspired by the lava from a recently erupted volcano in Iceland. Take a look at the similarities for yourself. The volcanic eruption had lava traveling down the mountain and onto the mainland.
The dress’s bodice seems to depict the initial eruption of a volcano, while the skirt bears similarity to lava flowing down the sides of the mountain. The skirt’s structure gives it a little bit of movement as well. This dress was designed by Peter Pilotto, who is currently taking a break from designing.
The gorgeous frills sprouting from the top of this dress may be reminiscent of delicate flowers or weeds like the dandelion. But it bears more resemblance to the stalked jellyfish that leaves deep in the sea. Check out the similarities here.
The jellyfish’s stalks look more like tentacles sprouting every which way from the ends of its arms. In the same way, the frills at the top of the dress replicate that movement. Antonio Grimaldi, a lover of couture, is responsible for this elegant piece.
You might think that a worm would be the last thing to draw inspiration from, but you’d be surprised what fashion can do! This gorgeous off-shouldered dress mimics the movement of a segmented polychaete worm, more formally known as a Tomopteris.
The light purple shade of this dress imitates the bioluminescence reflected at night by these worms. The way the dress falls down sideways creates an uncanny side-by-side comparison with the worm gliding through the deep waters. The designer of this dress is known as Aelis Couture.
Butterfly Fly Away
This is by far the best butterfly-inspired jumpsuit we’ve seen! Not only is the pattern intricate, but the hints of golden-brown accents on the Lime Swallowtail Butterfly’s wings are also very beautifully represented in the jumpsuit as actual wings!
This model has her arms on her sides now, but the brown parts will expand to form little wings when she expands her arms sideways! This incredibly well thought out design was put together by Naeem Khan, an Indian-American fashion designer who once dressed Michelle Obama.
We don’t know what’s more amazing here: the ladybug-like creature with the translucent wings or the bottom half of this runway outfit that imitates the same colors and patterns. Or is it the fact that both of these photos bare a lot of similarities?
This lime green tortoise beetle is certainly unique, but so are these pants to compliment it. We strongly believe that these pants stole the show on the runway by the latest designer, Off-White. This outfit seems different from what they usually put out, and we are enjoying seeing the diversity.
Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the color of this next fit. It’s a gorgeous sky blue material that is shimmery like a pixie fairy. That is probably because this dress is inspired by Mycena interrupta, better known as the Pixie’s Parasol mushroom.
This blue matches the blue of these funky fungi. But most importantly, the shape of the dress mimics the umbrella head of this mushroom as well. The jacket billows over her legs, making them look like the thin stems of the mushroom.
This next dress looks like a cross between an alien and a jellyfish. If you pay attention to the structure of the shoulders, it does look futuristic. The translucent cape also makes this look like something out of a sci-fi movie.
However, the frills and frays on the dress take shape from the Cyanea capillata or the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish. This dress came into creation by the talented Yinqing Yin. Did you know that the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish is the largest known species of medusa in the world?
The fashion world is no stranger to metallics. Whether it’s material or color, it’s been done before. But how often have you seen it out in nature? Feast your eyes on the Asian Jewel Beetle. The iridescent colors help to camouflage this insect outdoors.
Interesting to note these beetles have extremely short lifespans. An adult lives only 1-3 weeks. After this, locals forage the forests to find their shells to make interesting jewelry. Serkan Cura Couture crafted this dress. She is well known for the use of feathers in her designs.
Ruffles have been a part of fashion for as long as anyone can remember. Whether it’s ruffled sleeves, collars, hems, or full-on skirts, we’re not unfamiliar with the concept. But this one skirt, in particular, has more to it than just ruffles.
Even the most well-known fashion designers, like Alexander McQueen, take inspiration from nature. Here, McQueen drew his idea from the underside of an Oyster mushroom. The ridges seen in the image are actually decurrent gills that make a gorgeous frill.
The beautiful orange and yellow hues are captivating; however, this dress stands out mainly because of the structure of the dress. This flower is known for two names: the Chinese Lantern Lily or Christmas Bell. The natural ombre in this flower makes it one of a kind.
This flower is officially known as the Sandersonia aurantiaca. They’re native to New South Wales in Australia. Unfortunately, the bulb under the soil is toxic and can be fatal if consumed. The design of this dress comes from Jean-Louis Sabaji.
If you think that the pattern on this jumpsuit is a zebra stripe pattern, think again. Pay attention not only to the stripes but to the sheer and sparkly material of the suit. Zebras aren’t sheer and sparkly! This suit is based on a shrimp!
These water creatures are known as Wild Tiger Shrimp. David Koma from London is the designer who created this design. Koma is well known for skin-tight pieces that resemble lingerie. We find this outfit to be on-brand for him.
A statement collar is enough to make a plain dress or top pop. Just look at this gorgeous and captivating dress. It may look like another white dress, but the collar is what makes it stand out on the runway.
This collar takes inspiration from the gorgeous and well-known Calla Lily. Both in color and structure, this dress represents the elegant flower well. This dress was brought to life by the creative Stephane Rolland from Paris. We are happy to see yet another flower make its way onto the runway.
The thing with runway fashion is it’s often not to everyone’s taste. Not everyone can understand the bizarre combinations of patterns, structures, textures, and colors. But when placed side-by-side with a photo of this interesting Jellyfish, it finally makes sense.
This is the Red Paper Lantern Jellyfish or the Pandea rubra. It’s pretty aptly named, considering this creature can fold itself up, even into right angles! We think Molly Goddard did an excellent job incorporating this sea creature into her design.
The infinite varieties of patterns and colors on moths’ wings are enough to inspire countless collections of dresses and skirts and other outfits. We haven’t seen two moths or butterflies with the same pattern and colors on this list! This next moth is exquisite.
This dress got the colors just right to reflect the Areas galactina, also known as the Milky Tiger Moth. Dries Van Noten is also responsible for this piece of couture. He was already seen a few times in this article. This is his second moth-inspired piece.
We’ve already seen a metallic emerald jumpsuit. Now get ready for a metallic blue dress. Inspired by a similar bug to the first, this dress sports a deep midnight blue with the same metallic shimmer as a Blue Mint Beetle.
This dress captured the blue and green sheen of the bug’s wings so beautifully. Looking at it, you would think the colors were inspired by astronomy and space. But nope, it’s just a humble little bug. We were impressed by this design by Aquilano Rimondi.
Dark eyes and dark clothing have long defined the punk subculture. Spikes are also a part of the emo aesthetic, so you would think that this next runway fit was a nod to the subculture. But nope. This is an Alabaster or White-Lined Nudibranch.
The inspiration lies a little deeper than being anti-establishment. And when we say deep, we mean literally deep. Like, in the depths of the ocean deep. Thanks to Junya Watanabe for crafting together this fascinating runway look we’ve never seen anything like it.
If you were asked to compare this sweater to something in nature, you would probably think of something along the lines of a sea coral or a strawberry. There is actually another creature that bears more similarity, the Cage or Basket Stinkhorn.
Meet the Stinkhorn Mushroom. They can be found in tropical regions. These mushrooms have incredibly stinky spores as you can guess by the name. Good thing this sweater isn’t actually made of stinkhorns! This cozy-looking sweater came from Juha Vehmaanperä.
Nature really shows us that there is endless inspiration to be found if only we would look around! Just look at this jumpsuit. It might look like your typical jumpsuit, but it bears such similarity to the plumes of the Regent Bowerbird.
Both the bird and the jumpsuit have bold yellow and black color blocks that absolutely pop. The fabulous designer Christian Cowan is responsible for this runway piece. Cowan is known to redefine New York nightlife couture for the modern woman.
Rocking The Sweats
There’s nothing better than stepping out in athleisure wear. You’re comfortable while still remaining stylish. Sweats can sometimes be elevated by adding just a little bit of pattern, like this blue and white one on the runway based on the lantern fly native to Southeast Asia.
This is another design brought to you by Off-White. Unlike the first outfit in our list designed by them, we believe this is much more on brand and wouldn’t be surprised to see this outfit hit the streets of New York City.
The waist on this last dress looks like a set of bloody gnashing teeth, with the spillage of blood flowing down the skirt down to the hem. What creature in nature could have possibly inspired this morbid concept? Only the Red-Eyed Medusa.
Say hello to the Polyorchis penicillatu; these jellyfish are transparent with hints of red, almost exactly like the skirt on this dress. This exquisite piece was crafted beautifully by Givenchy. This has definitely taken our breath away, both the dress and medusa.