Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Florilegium: A Short Story (Homage to Corrie Nielsen)

My outfit above is a pure homage to Corrie Nielsen's SS13 Florilegium collection. I immediately thought of this gold Edwardian-style coat-dress, which was made by an incredibly talented family friend, for the sheer joy of creating something. Thank you Heather! The silk slip was my great-grandma’s, the floral headpiece is vintage and the shoes were from eBay. 
The catwalk photos of Corrie Nielsen's SS13 show at LFW are from - for more images and a review written by the lovely Jessica Bumpus you can see the link here. Photographer: Christopher Dadey. 

I was overwhelmed to sit front row at Corrie Nielsen’s mesmerizing SS13 show during London Fashion Week. Titled Florilegium, it was inspired by Kew Gardens – transforming botany into an art form through the shapes and details of the dresses. I’m always intrigued by the narratives behind Corrie’s work. Every collection tells a tale. There is also something about her designs that suggests and stimulates creativity in other mediums. She is supremely talented – for me, one of the most exciting current designers in the UK. I was also lucky enough to meet and talk with her several months ago, so I will definitely be re-visiting her work and vision in the near future.
Back in February, when I saw her AW12 collection, I was so awed by the theatricality and beauty that I wrote a poem. This time I thought I’d try my hand at crafting one of the many short stories that might lurk behind those stunning dresses…


The grass was wet, but the sun was warm. She could feel the damp breath of dew under her cheek. She opened her eyes to flowers.
She was close enough to stare through the petals and into the narrow core of each lily – stamen and pollen magnified in the early morning glow. She was resting on a lawn. Last time she had seen those beds of flowers they were just smudges in the dusk. They had blurred as she rubbed her eyes and sank down onto her knees. Now her papers and books were splayed around her, the pages speckled with water spots. She stretched, rubbing feeling back into her hands and arms. Her thoughts spun as she squinted, trying to remember how she had moved from sitting down to falling asleep in Kew gardens.
Thank goodness they had given her license to stay as long as she needed to study the greenhouses and gardens. She had felt a shiver of wonder pass through her when she was first set loose with her notebook, pencil and paints. Now everything looked different in the honey-coloured light, the gladioli softer and the peonies brighter. It felt out of place to resume the sketches of sepals and anthers, or listings of tulip variations. She left her materials where they were, instead untying her boots and stepping through the grass with curled toes.
Dawn soaked the sky. As she explored, rags of knowledge flapped through her mind. She thought of floriography - the language of flowers. She smiled as she snapped off a single white lilac. Youthful innocence – it was appropriate. She tucked the flower behind her ear, and sprinkled a handful of gardenia petals behind her. She paused as she reached the palm house, admiring the glitter of the glass, the white lines curving like the struts of a boat. The door gave way with a gentle push, and she tiptoed in among the humid foliage.
The place hummed with a heavy stillness. It was serene. She felt detatched from the Latin names, the impersonal lectures that wrapped everything in vines of definitions and diagrams. Life wasn’t in the study. It was all here, growing quietly.
Her fingers scrabbled towards the nearest plant. She peeled and plucked until she had an armful of fresh leaves. She began to tuck them around the edges of her dress, weaving them together into fans of green. Then she pushed back outside and ran towards the next display of flowers. Now she was frantic, grabbing at daisies and carnations, hibiscus and harebells, adorning herself in colour. Pinks, blues, creams: a frenzy of petals, ragged edges and frills falling across her face and arms. Finally she tore and tripped her way to the rose garden, determined to beat the sun as it climbed over the trees. She arrived panting and stood at the edge of the path. Her hair shivered in the wind, tangled. Pale yellow roses blocked the way, the thorns like claws. She reached over the massed bank to pull at one dusky coral rose behind. She caught sight of her delving hands and watched them in fascination. They were green, with faint lines running up towards her elbows. She saw her legs were the same. She turned pale as her body began to ripple. Silk turned into soft blossom, the satin of her skirts retracting and bulging into petal shapes. She wanted to laugh, but even whispers were impossible. Instead she stretched and bloomed as birds began to sing.

Some three hours later the gates were opened and the warden made his rounds. He had a flask of coffee swinging by his side and a cap pulled firmly over his ears.
His steady march faltered on reaching the rose garden. The hat slid from his head as he bent down towards the lawn, but he left it lying there, puzzled by the flower in front of him. It was new, unlike anything he had seen before. A slender column of white was topped with a peplum of downward facing petals in metallic grey-blue, while the stem was edged with delicate ruffles. It certainly wasn’t a rose or a lily, although echoes of both could be found in its form. He then noticed a small sign stuck into the grass. On it was a looping scrawl. It said: “Please do not pick. First planted: Autumn 2012. To Flower: Spring 2013. Origin: unique to Kew Gardens. Variety: Corrie Nielsen.”

Thank you so much for all the get-well wishes. I still managed to hobble to and from LFW, albeit in sensible flat shoes with painkillers in my bag!


Tara said...

Corrie Nielsen's S/S 13 collection looks simply wondrous - an embodiment of the beauty of feminity, purity and, of course, botany. Your responses - both the shoot and the narrative - are nothing short of the brilliance I have come to associate with you, Roz!
Also - I am so glad to hear that you are recovering and that LFW wasn't too arduous.

Best Wishes,


Sam said...

That coat dress is amazing - can I borrow your friend please? Big fan of your style and blog :)

Willow said...

This is such a beautiful story, the ending was really special. I think I've only read two or three of your short stories, have you posted any others on here before them?

Absolutely lovely outfit (and great inspiration) those heels are amazing - as well as the whole look.
Beautiful photos and backdrop too, I feel like these photos have an edge of children's literature.
You look absolutely gorgeous and it's good to read your foot is better.

Closet Fashionista said...

Such a beautiful outfit!! I can totally see your inspiration! :D
As always the story is amazing! You are such a great writer, I wish I was half as good!

L'age moyen said...

I love your beautiful coat. Such amazing sleeves. I hadn't heard of this designer but love the general lightness and attention to fabric.

Vix said...

Glad you're all better now, sorry I've missed your last couple of posts. Your outfit is entirely beautiful and as always, your words are amazingly powerful. x

daisychain said...

so glad your on the mend, I did wonder how you coped at LFW!

styleeast said...

Beautifully written as ever. And the photo are wonderfully styled and shot, I love the last one of you, it's like something from a different time. Lovely seeing you at LFW, hopefully won't be long until the next time! xx

Jean at said...

I loved the flow of this post, first marveling at the gorgeous colors and richness of the fabrics, your creative styling, and lush makeup. Then catching my breath when I saw the exquisite designs that inspired your look.

I pictured you throughout the story, and had to smile at the end. Lovely. MY toes were curling on that early morning grass, as well. Glad to know you're healing.

Anonymous said...! Positively breathtaking!
And your writing is, as always, very descriptive and lush.

Izzy/Bella said...

Lovely language in this one. It reminded me of a modern telling of a story from The Metamorphoses. And I had to look up florilegium; that always pleases me to learn something new as well. The end particularly affected me-- there was a horror underlying the beauty of that moment in which she literally becomes one with nature, and that gave the story a real richness. The one photo of you looking over your shoulder would make a great painting a la Ingres :)

Inspiring post as usual. I'm glad you were able to make it to London despite your injury and hope it's feeling better!

The Lady Nerd said...

I love the sleek, yet soft lines of your outfit. It's a very wonderfully put together ensemble (as is the poem). I don't normally associate words with apparel, but in a way, I think you captured the essence of the poem you wrote in the photos above it. Nicely done!

PS - Sorry to hear you had a rough time pain-wise at LFW. But glad you're feeling (hopefully) a bit better!

NaNa said...

wow what gorgeous photos <3 there is such a magical feel to these images, absolutely adore them! =)

love from the NANA girls xoxo

Melanie said...

What a beautiful homage - rags of knowledge, hair shivered in the wind, even whispers were impossible - the imagery is captivating.

I feel these words in your photo essay - especially the vintage hat that seems to be leaving a trail of tulle. Lovely. The last one of you has me breathless. I can only imagine the thrill of front row at Corrie Nielsen's show. (I'm glad you're mobile, even in flats!)

coco said...

super outfit !

La Dolce Vita said...

I loved how you narrated the coming of age of Corrie and how you compared her to the most unique and uncommon flower in the garden ! How a creation finally takes shape...the process was described beautifully. And you are looking stunning !

Lu ki said...

When I admire Your beaufitul outfits, the landscapes on Your photos, Your writing about a country life - everything so charming, 'old England' styled, I think You should be the member of landed gentry (maybe my image of them is too stereotypical). So forgive my silly question - are You?

Lu ki said...

When I admire Your beautiful outfits, the landscapes on Your photos, Your writing on country life - all so charming and 'Old England" styled, I always think You should be the member of the landed gentry (or maybe it's too stereotypical image of them I have). So forgive my rather silly question - are You?

Thrifted Shift said...

Your words are as beautiful as your images. I especially loved the line: It was all here, growing quietly. Thank you for this lovely moment.

The Fashion Milkshake said...

Great post!

3 words LOVE YOUR STYLE :)

I'm an instant follower of you now :)

Please feel free to check out my blog if you have the time



Fashionistable said...

What a beautiful homage to Corrie in every way, words, images and styling. I imagine the girl turned flower from your story looking like the last catwalk image in the post. You have such a wonderful imagination Roz. I lovel reading and seeing your work. Xxxx

Anupriya DG said...

Aaah! Beautiful!!

I don't know whether Nielsen's collection has inspired the story or that story has inspired the collection...but they just seem so incomplete without each other... :)

Arabella said...

Such beautiful photos!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous styling - I LOVE your hair and shoes in these pics - so pretty!

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Fragrant, floral prose. And I just love the sound of the word "floriography". It makes me think of swirling handwriting ending in petalled flourishes. It was wondrous to read of the "birth" of that last Corrie Nielsen gown, perhaps as regaled by the flowers to you!

What a talented friend to have crafted a divine Edwardian coat, in what seems to be shantung silk! I love the lush backdrop of your English garden too. Ours is looking rather brown and ragged from the summer and nibbling deer.

I'm glad to read your foot is recovering a bit and you've been able to enjoy fashion week! -- J xxx

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

The coat has a wonderful raw hem that reminds me of the 1930s patchwork pants you commented on the other day:)). There's something so delicate and sensitive about clothing that shows wear and your headpiece is completely divine! So glad you managed LFW and it's wonderful to read your passages:)xoxo

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