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 Vogue.co.uk - 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!