How many women love to be arranged in a bunch of flowers? Enough, probably, to prompt designers to turn dresses into vases
Nosegay or bouquet? (Left) Schiaparelli couture autumn/winter 2022 by Daniel Roseberry. Photo: Schiaparelli. And (right) Moschino prêt-à–porter spring/summer 2018 by Jeremy Scott. Photo: Indigital.tv
We know which among the above two came first, but perhaps that does not matter. Flowers have always bloomed in the creations of fashion designers at both the haute couture and prêt-à–porter. They go back even before the first couturier. And this attests to their versatility, even if their use risks being hackneyed, even tawdry. But fashion and flowers are soul mates; both are seasonal and both are about appearances—outwardly too. At the recent Schiaparelli couture presentation, the flowers with their stalks that worked their way from the velvet bust upwards, into an asymmetric spray that partly flanked the face (among other floristic pieces) was also more surface than substance. Daniel Roseberry was inspired by the images from Carolyne Roehm’ book A Passion for Flowers. He told WWD that he hope’d to evoke “creative innocence” with the floral arrangement. It is not immediately discernible.
Some four years ago, Jeremy Scott put together a bouquet of a dress for Moschino. Gigi Hadid wore the beribboned, wrapped-up stalks on the runway, with her head placed among colourful mixed blooms as if it flowered among the bunch. In sum, she looked very much like the tall, dramatic bouquets beauty entrepreneur Kim Lim would like to receive—any day. There is a sense of humour in Ms Hadid attired as a giant hand-held arrangement, even if it was the incongruity that arouse the amusement. And therein, we sense, lies the creative point: irreverence. Mr Roseberry had hoped to effect “innocence”, but his floral formation was not quite absent of guile; it was rather studied. The wholesome side of high fashion to counter the exposed breasts he showed earlier? Sure, his flowers were all coutured-up: hand-painted, 3-D tulips, made brilliant with rhinestone, but were they sumptuous, let alone Shocking!—the name of the new Schiaparelli exhibition to open in Paris?
It is interesting that the two men who have worked floral arrangement into their designs hail from America. It seems that this could be American designers-in-Europe’s belated expression of floristic exuberance. But blooms for the body is not terribly new. There was the Yves Saint Laurent’s couture flowered bikini-as-bridal-wear from 1999 or Alexander McQueen’s gown from 2007, festooned with real fleurs. Even the guys could not escape being adorned, or garlanded. In the spring 2020 season, Virgil Abloh placed one wreath as sort of abbreviated vest atop a T-shirt for one of his last showings for Louis Vuitton, clearly an ornamental touch, as much as one to soften the masculine nothingness of the look. But these were not quite enough, and some designers are now allowing the dress to be a receptacle in which flowers can sprout forth. The Chinese have a saying: 花无百日红 or no flower blooms for a hundred days—good times, as well as the florid, do not last long. Pessimistic? Ask some flowers.