"They make women feel happy," says Tori Spelling of floral prints, currently abloom in Hollywood among such nonwallflowers as Sandra Bullock, Jane Seymour and Jennifer Tilly. The oversize buds—everything from petunias to pink roses—are now chic after several seasons of understated clothes. Flowers "allow you to use color without being too serious," says Domenico Dolce, one half of the Italian design team Dolce & Gabbana. Adds Valentino, whose garden-variety gowns were worn by Jenny McCarthy and Lauren Holly at the Oscars in March: "Women love flowers because they represent softness and romance."
But that doesn't mean floral prints—a staple at such old standbys as Laura Ashley—don't have pizzazz. "Flowers are more sophisticated than they were in the past," says fashion stylist Denise Solis, whose bouquet of clients includes Jewel and Cameron Diaz. Actress Tisha Campbell, who donned a see-through, rose-covered Dolce & Gabbana gown for the Soul Train Music Awards in March, agrees: "They're feminine and sexy at the same time." So powerful are the prints that Valentino believes they may actually play tricks on the senses. "A woman in a floral dress," he says, "always seems to be beautifully scented."