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No. 3: Fashion and Flowers
On the salience of the carnation bulb in Balenciaga’s recent haute couture show, a meaningful DIY-project with flowers, and the contemporary renaissance of floral menswear.
Welcome to Issue No. 3 of Fashion Foreword!
For this month’s issue, we were fascinated by the role of flowers in fashion, and the realisation that florals are, and have always been en vogue. Fashion designers have used flowers as inspiration for centuries, be it garments crafted from floral fabrics, or designs decorated with flowers such as embroidery in botanic patterns, or even fabric-crafted blossom embellishments. Fashion is also made from flowers: we might sometimes forget that cotton, one of the oldest and most widely used textile fibres, originates as a white flowering bloom. Flowers play and have played a central role during fashion shows, stages and events, as intricate parts of the spectacle or to complement the narrative. The fashion industry has also taken advantage of the fragrant qualities of flowers, with complementary (licensed) perfume lines yielding high revenues.
The symbolism of flowers is historically, geographically, and culturally rooted and can be seen as a discreet means of communication. For this month’s review, Eanna Morrison Barrs guides us through the subtle significance of the crimson carnation in Balenciaga’s most recent Haute Couture show. While the show was filled with obvious references to the fashion house’s heritage, it was a small red blossom that stood out as a more subtle reference to the Maison’s past.
Also culturally and historically embedded is the role of flowers in notions of masculinity. While flowers might not be immediately associated with male fashion in the present, their pasts are interwoven. Judith Beyer discusses the meaning of flowers in both contemporary and historical menswear and spots a revival in floral masculinity.
Flowers connect people: they are gifted and received for birthdays, celebrations, or as consolidation, and as such can carry emotions and personal meanings. This month’s recollection touches upon the affective meanings of flowers and clothes by means of a dyeing experiment. Inspired by bio-designer Ilfa Siebenhaar’s project ‘Emerge’, Nora Veerman has a go at bundle-dyeing with her own meaningful bouquets. No living flowers were harmed in the process.
If you’re in need of any more DIY inspiration, Jip Mulder has composed a selection of resources and recommendations on the topic of fashion and flowers to listen to, watch, try, and visit. The options for this list were endless so if you feel like we’ve missed something, feel free to share!
Judith, Eanna, Jip, and Nora
The Fashion Foreword Team
The Subtle Significance of Flowers at Balenciaga's Fall 2021 Couture Show
Red carnations were given to guests, worn on lapels, and carried down the runway at Balenciaga's 50th Couture Collection last month.
By Eanna Morrison Barrs
Men in Bloom: The Renaissance of Flowers in Menswear
How flowers found their way (back) into contemporary menswear and the question of what it all means.
By Judith Beyer
Dyeing and the Dead: Colouring Clothes with Flowers
Flowers aren't meant to live forever. Yet, their decay is always somehow tragic. In this month's recollection: an experiment to make mallows, and memories, last.
By Nora Veerman
Footnotes on Fashion and Flowers
Want to dive further into this month’s theme? We’ve gathered a variety of resources on the topic of fashion and flowers, from exhibitions on roses to a podcast on Victorian floriography.
By Jip Mulder
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