Flowers and plants have inspired everything in fashion from headpieces and backdrops, to stunning garments. Although plant life fashion has yet to be lensed by Bill Cunningham or make an appearance on the red carpet, the abstract idea of floral couture has been blooming on both the catwalk and within artist’s studios.
Jean Paul Gaultier was the first to introduce the idea of botanic fashion in his Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2002 collection. The bridal dress was a “fairytale gown hung with a bold array of large-leaf foliage” (Vogue UK). Gaultier teamed up with the ecological architect, Patrick Blanc, who was the first to conceptualize the vertical garden. In this collaboration, Blanc’s ecological art transcended vertical gardens to high fashion with this famous bridal dress named the Robe Végétale (Unterberger).
Wearable and ecological garments made entirely from an array of biodiversity such as: leaves, vegetables, weeds, branches and flowers were the inspiration for Nicole Dextras’ art installation, Weedrobes. This project is an expression against the fashion and consumer industry. The decomposable materials compared to chemical-treated fabrics emphasize the impact of humans on the natural environment. Dextras explains, “It may be impractical to wear clothing made with leaves but our future depends on the creation of garments made from sustainable resources.” Taking her part in the environmental art movement, Dextras used these incredible creations as an environmental statement through social engagement. The final step of the installation was interacting the models with the public while wearing her creations. Weedrobes is a creative way to express fashion at it’s truest nature and promote ecological decisions amongst consumers.
“I used flowers because they die. My mood was darkly romantic at the time,” (Savage Beauty) is a quote fashion lovers from around the world can recognize. From his iconic Sarabande collection, Alexander McQueen sent a dress made from synthetic and frozen flowers down the runway. Each step the model took, flowers began to fall off one by one, leaving behind a trail on the runway. Nature and the sublime have always influenced McQueen’s work, along with his dejection of the physical world. The theme of live flowers was both passionate and enigmatic in its presentation. Freshly bloomed flowers are undeniably gorgeous, yet the aspect of decomposition plays with the idea of duality.
Floral couture has yet to make an appearance down the runways in the recent 2000’s. Raf Simons has further developed the idea of floral couture in his majestic floral displays for Dior, but the theatrical drama of botanical bodice sculptures that express femininity in the highest form is lacking in the fashion world. Although flowers and plants rot and decay, something in them lives on forever - the impression of flowers on fashion is simply inseparable.