Spring looks offer a bouquet of pretty floral fashions

Along with crocuses and daffodils comes another surefire sign of spring: florals in fashion.

The garden-party look is a seasonal classic, but there's been some updating this season. Look for artistic, almost abstract brushstroke technique or realistic photo-style prints. Other twists include tulip-style hemlines and fabric petals adorning everything from tank tops to ball gowns.

Flowers, say designers, are an endless source of inspiration because of their delicacy, femininity and beauty. And it turns out many fashion insiders are gardeners (or aspiring gardeners), too.

The AP asked a few designers who are offering florals in their spring collections about their favorite flowers:

Michael Smaldone, creative director at Talbots

"I'm a pink guy, but my favorite flower is an orange poppy," says Smaldone. "I love how they're both wild -- with ugly leaves and hairy stems -- and have a beautiful delicate flower."

His thumb is pretty green, he says. "I like to get as tropical as I can in a nontropical location.... There are poppies all over the place to give a burst of color."

He turned to a brushstroke floral print for Talbots' spring line, though, because he thought that approach was very optimistic -- something the fashion world needs right now.

But whatever the climate is for style trends, flowers always fit in, Smaldone says. "You can do everything with them. They can fit into any trend: ethnic, watercolor, impressionistic, pop art -- you name it."

LeAnn Nealz, chief design officer of American Eagle

Nealz says she loves white magnolias for their "intoxicating scent," but ranunculus are her favorites because they're so cheerful.

"They look like they're made of hundreds of layers of brightly colored paper."

Nealz interpreted sweet, small florals for spring onto a flirty daytime skirt as well as a day-to-night minidress. She used a more tropical flower for menswear on board shorts.

Janie Schoenborn, Lilly Pulitzer design director

From a long line of gardeners -- her father has a degree in landscape design, Mom has a traditional English garden and Aunt Molly's specialty is tropicals -- Schoenborn is trying to keep up the tradition with lilacs and syringas.

So far, she hasn't done a lilac print for Lilly Pulitzer, but a shade of lavender was just added to the label's palette.

"Every spring is a floral bonanza for us," Schoenborn says. "We don't always do an exact replica of a flower. Right now we have an abstract orchid. There's a Queen Anne's lace that we hadn't done but will have for summer.... We don't discriminate against any flowers, but we like 'pretty,' so no cactuses, but we'll even do lemon and lime blossoms."

Bridget Tiernan provided styling assistance for this story.