Couture Flower Gardens

Valentino: A floral affair
While florals are a timeless print in our Spring/Summer wardrobes, this season they have bloomed like never before. What resided on this week's Couture catwalks had an entirely different feel to the scintillating three-dimensional roses in Holly Fulton's and Oscar de la Renta's Spring RTW collections. Valentino, Chanel, Dior, Elie Saab and Giambattista Valli all opted for a refined, graceful (Chanel a kind of gothic grace!) and involute take on creating their own veritable runway gardens.     I will forever be in love with the meticulous romanticism of Valentino's designs and what Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli had to offer for couture was breath-taking. Though they were of course not the first to base so much on flora and fauna, the duo managed to create a finesse charm in the collection that is true to their trademark creative visions. 
    The show notes read: "In this enchanted garden, the diaphanous albedo of a dream fades away, leaving behind a strong sense of wonder and breathtaking beauty". As the show began, a beautiful piece of classical music directly transported you away to a tranquil, secret garden.
     Chiuri and Piccioli did not take their challenge of creating a fairy-tale garden lightly, using crepe piping to ice layers of organza tulle and form the illusion of stately wrought-iron fences. From then on every swirl had the illusion of a winding stem or an ornate garden gate. Black crepe piping created a picturesque, mobile bird cage that stunned the audience within the first two minutes of the show (below). The elegant, caged and floor-trailing cape came complete with dainty birdies to protect, sewn onto a buoyant dove-grey dress. 

A birdcage made from tubing on tulle
     That familiar, diluted water-colour palette of powdery ivory, nude and blue made up the majority of the show, mixing perfectly with celestial drapes of silk and exquisite ruffles, ruching and needlepoint. Every single flower had an emphasis on craftsmanship  with delicate, frayed chiffon petals cut to look like feathers, and fields of country seed flowers embroidered to show every dissimilarity. The floral adornment on one such ivory wool dress is said to have taken a credible 550 hours to complete. The countrified frock worn by Cara Delevingne specifically showcased the elaborateness of the handiwork. The renaissance feel dress, predominantly in a burnished red and white, was constructed entirely from crocheted flowers of myrtle, lavender and willow. The Valentino atelier crafted identical, richly embroidered pumps to continue the theme of an evolving botanical world. Braided up-dos reminiscent of the Little House on the Prairie too alluded to the flora theme, conjuring images of Prairie Blazing-stars. 

Chiffon petals, trimmed to look like feathers
Cara Delevingne's myrtle, lavender and willow crocheted dress
     Crochet floral patterns reoccurred on the fashion house's signature scarlet-hued gowns, while pretty eyelet detailing was carried through from the RTW Spring '13 collection, mostly on white. The purity of this colour also laid the foundations for a flurry of neatly-stitched daisies, strung into chains. These were again, the total opposite of Miuccia Prada's take on the seasonal flower, which appeared emblazoned onto retro knits and roller-skate look platforms in her spring show. Valentino's daisies just added to the overwhelming debonair feel of their couture collection.

Valentino's dainty daisy chains
     Karl Lagerfeld went further than composing his own secret garden, as one would expect, instead turning the Grand Palais into a replica forest. His models walked a whimsical path, almost hidden amongst the mystical foliage, wearing clothes with just as bewitching a sense of whimsy and romanticism. The soft, spring-appropriate colour palette was there, along with the tulle and Victorian lace, yet also present was a gothic fantasy feel, which emphasised that this was Chanel couture, and not your ordinary haute collection. There was a sense of mystery in this show; Lagerfeld had clearly thought out the concept of an untouched, curious undergrowth where anything could happen. 

Lagerfeld's florals were contrasted with gothic make-up and headpieces
     There was a contrasting gloominess to the elegance of the dresses themselves; created by the smudged black eye make-up and intimidatingly long lashes, and the darker-coloured, feathered headpieces that rested over one side of the face. Feathers appeared on many a piece; perhaps to echo the feathery friends that permeate a forest in the spring. But despite the edgier nuance of the collection, Lagerfeld embraced the powerful beauty of flowers like everyone else. They featured as thirties-inspired prints, shapely, glistening appliqués and even topped off tweed jackets in the form of corsages. Bright on black was a key colour contrast, with sequins lifting primary colours, while a monochrome, graphic flower printed flared trouser and jumper combination flew the flag for modern femininity. 
    Lagerfeld toned down the audacity for his finale, as two models walked hand in hand in bridal attire that was artfully and precisely tattered for the gauzy skirts of the gowns to look like frothy flowerbeds. Joining them was Karl Lagerfeld's beautiful godson, Hudson Kroenig, who stole yet another high-fashion show with his angelic looks and early talent for that model walk.
    Despite the dramatic leafy staging, Lagerfeld remained focused on detail, which pinpointed the feel of the collection as true grandeur (with attributes of Helena Bonham Carter). I adored the minute, jewel encrusted butterflies that decorated nude mesh covered shoulders. 

Sequins mixed with three-dimensional flower appliqués
Butterflies and feathers alluded to the flora and fauna catwalk trend

Dreamy flowerbed skirts, and the adorable Hudson Kroenig
      At Paris' Jardin des Tuilieres, Raf Simons succeeded in creating achingly romantic reminders of the delights of spring meadows in full bloom. "I wanted to do a very self-explanatory collection this season. I wanted it to be literally about the season; to be about the very idea of spring," Simons told Harpers Bazaar. The neatly clipped hedges (designed by landscape artist Martin Wirtz) that surrounded a maze-like runway set the scene adequately, yet didn't take away from the clothes, as Simons intended. The simple shrubs mirrored the sleek and clean silhouettes of the fashion house, while a well-manicured floral repetition added interest and a new girlishness to Simons' pieces. The over-sized flower print seen on iridescent organza at Dior Spring RTW was pulled back; this time there was a focus on filigree. Each flower embellishment felt remarkably restrained, in a good way, as Simons has a covetable talent for keeping his couture organic. He kept pieces minimalistic where they should be, and drew the eye where need be with extra streaks of flowers on elbow-length mesh gloves. Charming blossom-like beading and clusters of baby pansies were kept to side panels of dresses or worn on tops with a plain bottom-half, while floral ruffles were at first limited to busts and peplum frills. The delicacy of the stem, blossom and bud embroidered bustiers and square-shouldered sleeveless jackets was just charming, and I loved the sugary-sweet colouring. 

Baby buds and blossom had a prim and sweet feel
Vibrant colours were kept to side panels for a controlled subtlety
Statement flower crowns complimented floral appliqués 
The full effect: individual flower gardens flourished to cover dresses
      Despite the initial frugal use of detail- the floral embroideries evolved gradually as the show went on to cover dresses entirely- the collection lost none of its Dior blue-print. Simons kept his love for volume, using fluid and structured skirts, bubble-hemmed ball gowns, endless peplums and boxy crop-tops. He also added a new dimension to his hair-styling, with the gorgeous floral crowns that rested gracefully on the model's heads. 

Floral artistry at Elie Saab
    Elie Saab delivered his predictable yet eternally-loved selection of fastidiously-crafted fairy-tale gowns, using the natural beauty of botany to enhance his artistry. As often with Saab's designs, there are no words! He will always be appreciated for his ever-lasting skill and eye for what women want. For this season's haute collection, there was not a single jacket or pair of trousers. It embodied the essence of red-carpet splendour- full-length or at least calf-skimming dresses made up of millions of beads, the most luxuriant of fabrics and crystallised floral ornamentation. There are rumours that Dita Von Teese even gasped at Saab's latest creations, entitled: "An Ode To Delicateness". 
Giambattista Valli's foamy, feathered florals
    Seeing as Giambattista Valli's Spring '13 Couture show opened with a flurry of animal prints, I can surely be forgiven for being surprised to see just how amazing the florals were once it was their turn to step into the spotlight. Modern designs of big cat spots and scrupulous shapes morphed into flowing tulle and feathered pastel wonders. There was a wonderful juxtaposition between the frothiness of the flower-covered dresses and the designer's bronze-toned herbaceous headpieces. Models balanced Grecian-look, ornamental crowns on their heads as they walked with poise, which, topped off with the complimentary jewellery alluded to the pulchritude of a forest nymph. 

Bronze headpieces encompassed the designer's Italian grandiosity
and added a magical feel


  1. so pretty!love elie saab!
    would you like to follow each other?

  2. Fabulous post!!!! I LOVE these dresses they're so inspiring I'm definitely a new follower of your fab blog! Here's my blog if you fancy a peek or a cheeky follow: I'm also on twiter @Rachael_Haile

  3. I like your collection, especially the dress that is made up of "Chiffon petals".
    The Ratchet Shop

  4. Nice Blog,would you like to follow each other?


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