Once upon a time, floral prints were the preserve of nice old ladies, dolls’ houses, country lasses who never quite got over wearing Liberty print blouses to boarding school rugby matches and impossibly pretty girls who never belch or swear like truck drivers during childbirth. Then, somehow, Cath Kidston came along and suddenly, a plague of rampant tweeness starting spreading across Britain. How was this ever allowed to happen?
Cath started out innocently enough selling vintage fabrics and wallpapers and the like from a shop in Holland Park in 1993. Then she had a botanical brainwave and saw fit to design her own florals and put one of her prints on an ironing board cover. A freakin’ ironing board cover. According to her website, this was a “witty” thing to do. Yes, how very Dorothy Parker to add flowers to the domestic drudgery that is ironing.
How very Dorothy Parker to add flowers to the domestic drudgery that is ironing.
The first sign that we had a serious floral outbreak on our hands came with the relentless spread of her bags. They’re creepy, like an overgrown version of what Grandma takes to the communal showers on a Caravan Club holiday. Nobody is immune, it seems, from these godawful, plastic-coated monstrosities.
On any given Tube ride, you will see these bags carried by women from all walks of life - grim-faced women in tailored suits, women in tracksuits, women in hijabs, women in saris, high school students using them as schoolbags (even the ones who are clearly the cool girls - and as someone who most certainly wasn’t a cool girl, I can spot these socially gifted starlets a mile off).
I give the mothers who use Cath Kidston bags as nappy bags a leave pass as I do believe it is the law that nappy bags must be unspeakably naff, but seriously, why have these bags which match nobody’s outfit become so popular?
15 quid! - a red torch with flowers. The only way to look like a bigger dickhead on a camping trip would be to turn up in Lady Gaga’s meat dress and refuse to put it on the barbecue.
And that first ironing board cover should have served as a dire warning that Cath would not rest until everything was covered in one of her hayfever-inducing prints. My husband and I were in Fenwick (we had a wedding present voucher, OK? We can’t actually afford to shop there...) and were tempted by those retro-looking Roberts digital radios, wondering if the one festooned with a Union Jack would be ironically cool or make us look like we listen to BNP FM, when I spotted one that had caught Cath Kidston fever. Insipid pale blue with pink flowers - it was simply not a radio to be taken seriously, the feeble bastard child of a radio and tampon box.
But the final straw came this week when I painfully looked at her website. There it was, for 15 quid - 15 quid! - a red torch with flowers. The only way to look like a bigger dickhead on a camping trip would be to turn up in Lady Gaga’s meat dress and refuse to put it on the barbecue. For the same price at Argos you can get an awesome camping light with a remote control and no insane florals. Indeed, given the whole point of going camping is to “get away from it all”, if someone produced a Cath Kidston torch near any tent of mine, I’d have to insist that we remain in darkness instead. We are faced with a nation where the middle of nowhere is not safe from a Cath Kidston infestation. God help us all.
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