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Desigual's colorful cotton "Wov" dress, designed by "Monsieur
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Desigual's colorful cotton "Wov" dress, designed by "Monsieur Lacroix" (aka Christian Lacroix, the famed French couturier); $174 at Desigual, Manhattan, and desigual.com.(Credit: Desigual)

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Butterfly fashion: A surprising new trend

The "butterfly effect" -- if you're hip to chaos theory -- suggests a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the globe can tip the climatic scales just enough to trigger a chain reaction leading to a tornado elsewhere.

Sounds bizarre, but no more so than the odd thing that happens in fashion, when seemingly out of nowhere designers focus on a specific look or pattern all at once.

This season, it's butterflies -- fluttering on dresses, handbags, jewelry and more.

The queen bee of butterfly makers (to flagrantly crossbreed insect metaphors here) is Sophia Webster, London's hot, on-the-rise accessories designer who apprenticed with chic shoemaker Nicholas Kirkwood and launched her own brand just last year. Her spring line features colorful butterfly wings taking flight off toes (on flats), backs of heels (pumps, sandals) and up the leg (sinfully sexy lace-up boots).

"I started looking at butterfly wings close-up, and they have so many amazing patterns and colors going on -- like hidden codes," Webster told Elle magazine. She hand-painted her butterfly prints using iridescent and metallic paints for "a buggy kind of feel."

Her shoes are flying off shelves at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. But there are other ways to find spring's most in-style insect -- here are some of our faves.