Where did this crop up from?
This goes way back but I will start with 1800-1850’s (pre internet - trends hung around a bit longer then) with Romanticism then again in 1880 - 1920’s with Arts and Crafts, then again with Laura Ashley in the 1970’s and finally Cath Kidson delighted the masses with flowery design.
It is a natural human reaction to visibly reject the harshness of its current predicament. In the 1800’s the first Industrial revolution was gaining speed, pulling farmers out of the countryside into swelling (filthy) Cities. The Napoleonic Wars were sucking up Husbands, Fathers and Sons and thanks to “new science” spitting out an alarming number of amputees and disabled war vets needing support. It was dirty and tough and there was a wealthy reaction to “romanticise” rural life which led to an art movement that spilled into poetry, writing, fashion and decor. Same in 1880’s when the Boer war / First World War coupled with Industrialisation triggered the Art’s and Crafts movement. You guessed it, the 1970's Vietnam War, space wars and a major economic recession triggered Laura Ashley’s popularity and then, well, we were recovering from a huge economic meltdown, an anti-capitalist movement and a bit fed up with the blandness of flatpack.
What does Cottagecore mean?
Cottagecore like Romanticism, Arts and crafts, Laura Ashley and Cath Kidson is a celebration of a simpler, nature inspired lifestyle that encompasses home decor and fashion equally. It is soft, warm, non-judging and cozy. It is also importantly a rejection of harsh life and industrialism. Feminine V Masculine. Yin and Yang.
Why is social media buzzing about it at the moment?
Well a pandemic with the growing truth of global warming seems as good a reason as any of the above to revive this well worn rush to an idealised, bucolic, safe, comforting rural life. Social media can just disseminate and spread the word easily. The images are very IG friendly too.
So what exactly does it look like?
Think soft, tonal nature inspired colours of cream, pink, green and browns. It can be flowery, chintzy and ginghamy all at once. It is cotton, wool, embroidery, crochet and velvety. It is pine furniture and floorboards and china teacups and saucers. It is real houseplants, banana bread and kitchen gardens. It is also fresh eggs, dog walks and picking up feathers or pinecones or conkers. It is stripped wood or chipped painted wood, mismatched old chairs and comfy sofas and beds. And lots and lots of it crammed onto shelves and cupboards, under and over things.
So how do I do it?
Start collecting vintage things and lots of them. Don’t settle for one galvanised watering can when three mismatched ones would make a better arrangement. Don’t buy matchy sets of anything. If it is mass produced, step away. Look for reclaimed, reused and upcycled. One off's, originals and uniques. But also hand made's, cottage industries, artists originals. Go searching in attics, sheds and grannies cupboards for authentic pieces. Embrace well worn and unusual. For fabrics and wallpapers there are wonderful options. If you want to put a toe in the water and see if you like this look can I direct you to William Morris & Co Pure collection. All the design and pattern less of the colour of the original designs. Or Cabbages & Roses are still going strong or Peony & Sage. They will enhance vintage furniture finds and bring the look together. A note of caution though, remember this is mix and match not matchy matchy!