Constance Spry was a formidable lady on many accounts, but her early years of groundbreaking social work in the Irish countryside were eclipsed by her main claim to fame as an industry pioneer elevating florals from a ladies pastime, to a fully fledged decorative element in its own right. Her stylistic influence is still very visible today. She was an avid gardener herself and was both prized and highly criticized for her use of unusual vessels and daringly unfashionable materials.
When asked to do the opening arrangement for the ‘The Women of Harper’s Bazaar, 1936-1958’ at the Museum at FIT, Spry immediately came to mind - herself one of those very ‘women’ referred to in the title, she was a regular contributor to the magazine during that period and a force to be reckoned with in a time when women rarely got the chance to fulfill their career desires.
With that in mind - and in keeping with our local and seasonal mantra we put together an arrangement that doesn’t mimic Spry’s arrangements simply in the photographic sense of the term, but that takes her principals and applies them to what could be found in New York at the end of February.
The vessel - we uses a Silver Ritz Soupière as she was renowned for taking objects from around her clients houses and using them as floral vessels. We stripped camilla in reference to one of her more racy moves - removing leaves of branches to reveal the buds and flowers, putting them on the centre stage. The Yves Piaget garden tea roses are highly scented, old fashioned roses were a favorite of hers. In todays modern market, finding a highly scented verities is somewhat of a challenge. It takes a lot of energy for a flower to smell, giving them the reputation of lasting last less long in the vase. Imported stems rarely are highly scented varieties for this reason. These domestic gems smell amazing. The ranunculus and Hellebore are local February blooms from Hautau & sons farm. The lady Fern is a reference to the popular greenery of her time. Inherited from the Victorian fascination with ferns and ferneries, they have since fallen out of fashion, probably as so many things do, due to over exposure. The dried pomegranate is a double reference to both her love of fruit in arrangements and utilizing elements that were ‘destined for the wheelbarrow’...
The Women of Harper’s Bazaar, 1936-1958, is up at the Museum at FIT on 27th and 7th through April 1st