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“I often evoke the floral souls that you bring forth from ancient vases” - Rainer Maria Rilke
The British Museum had accompanied a Rodin exhibition last Summer with verses from Rainer Maria Rilke, the young poet whom the sculptor had often invited into his studio, and this simple line spoke to me, accompanying a display of miniatures. A maquette for a little water fairy, the sculpted torso of Obsession, sitting in an ancient Greek vase, a young woman with a naked torso, swathed in draped fabrics holding a small box upon one knee, cited as the Muse from the Monument to Whistler, depicting Gwen John, Rodin's lover of ten years. In comparison to the scale of Rodin's iconic Art of Ancient Greece the tableau appeared enchanted and malleable, within that solemn room. I quickly drafted them in my sketchbook, alongside those words I found hauntingly beautiful.
Alinea’s most recent photoshoot, Floral Souls was photographed by Italian Leonardo Tommasin, drawing from image auteur Edward Steichen’s monochromatic, theatrical prints, and creative visionary Tim Walker. Leonardo lighted the subjects with a gold diffuser lamp, against a background of sustainable floristry artistry by Blwsome, lead by Jenny de Castro, which who provided displays of white, magenta, pink blooms in hoops and on gold and silver stands, arrangements which can last for 10 years. “That’s so romantic,” our jewellery designer, Olivia Madigan-Shea breezily exclaimed as she admired Jenny’s handiwork, “you could actually keep your wedding flowers. I’d hate to have to throw them away. I’d press them, but it wouldn’t be the same”.
The I do Rococo! Outfit worn by Corina is entirely made using reclaimed fabrics, whilst the ‘Starflowers and Jewels’ bustier is created entirely from vintage trouves; golden and peach butterflies edged in pearls, another rococo reminiscent floral motif found within an antique shop in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. One of the reasons why I occasionally create textile couture using vintage finds isn’t simply for the sustainable aspect, it is for the sheer joy of discovery; hand-embroidered flowers lifted from gold baroque picture frames, a gift of an ethereal sequinned dress which used belong to a ballerina in the 1930’s, 100 year old salmon pink beads. In tissued wrapped isolation they are simply treasures; stitched together them become ornaments; elaborate and theatrical adornments which are necessarily modern.
The Wallace Collection; bustling with magnificent glamour, eagles, nymphs, Titans and Adonis’s, knights and edifices of bounty is an eternal source of inspiration to me, taking on almost hallucinogenic qualities; an entire palace of fairies in every gilded curlicue. Whilst many might deem the Rococo period to be frivolous, it caters to all of the starry angels of the imaginative and is remarkably forgiving for an illustrator - requiring the balance of accoutrement rather than immaculate symmetry.
The frothy pink dress of I do Rococo! Was inspired by Les Hasards heureux de l'escarpolette (The Happy Accidents of the Swing), an oil on canvas by Jean Honoré Fragonard, an unforgettable painting which entirely expresses the joie de vivre of a frothy pink tutu. These feature next to designer Agnes Mira Rosa’s handmade couture creations; a black bow ornaments the left shoulder of a mademoiselle who models a gorgeous, netted creation, the dreams itself is wrought from a perfume advert - there are dresses, and there is perfume advert couture. I zip Julia Kinnear into another Agnes Mira Rosa creation, a lengthy satin number a created in silky black; a swish of operatic satin “I must have this dress,” Julia Kinnear confides as I add the final touch of a black sash, and she strides through the corridors of The Royal Exchange, past Queen Victoria’s bedroom and into our office, where candles gleam and flicker next to white lilies and pink roses.
“I suppose I view myself as the Queen of Hearts,” Olivia considers, “I view life as a sort of fairytale, I’m currently designing jewellery with secret compartments for my new collection, a ruby ring, surrounded by pearls, with a case… a locket necklace… you came to my Winter launch at Annabel’s.. The theme of the interior decoration was red roses, which were strewn throughout the restaurant. I just love red!” she laughs.
The bold, elegant cocktails rings which can be viewed on our models Corina Selaru Dimitru and Julia Kinnear are from her vintage collection; substantial, glittering jewels which create atmosphere and certainly contribute to an haute couture aesthetic. Whilst traditionalists will veer towards rubies, sapphires and emeralds - opals are cited to be currently popular, alongside turquoise and tourmaline. Our muses for the Floral Souls photoshoot were also drawn from the National Portrait Galleries current exhibition - preRaphaelite Sisters; Elizabeth Siddal, Jane Morris, Marie Spartali Stillman the women who are portrayed as romantic, mythical icons; Proserpine, Venus Verticordia, Lilith. They were the contemporary icons of their day. Nothing ever happens in isolation, the creative endeavour is usually an amalgam or zenith of a myriad of inspirations and serendipity. Our moodboard examined the style of women in power: Amal Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Livia Firth, and the way that their wardrobe contributes to their roles and media communications.
In early Feb 2019, Alexandria submitted her first piece of legislation to the US Senate, the New Green Deal, which outlined a policy identifying net-zero carbon emissions by 2029, advocating a plan to for the United States to transition to a grid running on 100% renewable energy. Highly photogenic, her looks feature single colour ensembles, such as a stylish white blazer, teamed with a white tank and trousers, glossy hair, striking gold hoop earrings and a strong red lip worn to the 2019 State of the Union. At Alinea, where possible we have prioritised working with companies with green or sustainable credentials; sustainable fashion platform Common Objective, fashion designer Helen Anthony, cleantech company Coomtech, Blwsome sustainable floral artistry, companies which look to scale and integrate environmentally responsible practices within their brand DNA.
On Thursday 5th & Friday 6th December, and Thursday 12th & Friday 13th December Alinea are hosting a Luxury Pop Up Boutique at The Royal Exchange; presenting a selection of our clients alongside stylists, offering the opportunity to meet the artists, shop for tailored suits, couture workwear and party dresses, access signed limited edition prints alongside original artworks and purchase items from Helen Anthony’s high fashion couture, US based Aysha Louise urban luxury collection with simple fluid lines and block colours, luxury book bindery Charfleets' stationery, notebooks and journals. and contemporary Britsh artists artists (including myself) Holly Jade O’Leary, Anna Mazzotta, Annalisa Middleton, and Aston Martin collaborator Robi Walters. We cordially invite you to join us for a glass of Prosecco, please RSVP [email protected] for a complimentary gift bag containing a notebook from Charfleets Book Bindery.