One of the first things I saw upon waking this morning (I starting writing this Saturday) was Saturday's edition of London's the Financial Times newspaper sitting on the dining room table at my mother-in-law's in Toronto. I was immediately curious.Why? How? Seeing 'FT Weekend' splashed across the front page, my first thought was 'Fashion Television Weekend? Could it be? On broadsheet newsprint?' (Canadians will well know the long-running CITY-TV Jeanne Beker-hosted fashion programme.)
Okay, it was 8 am and I'd been a bridesmaid at my (gorgeous) friend's (gorgeous) wedding the night before so the brain wasn't fully recharged (actually I whimpered pathetically when my daughter shouted 'GET UP MUMMY!' in my face for the ninth and loudest time). And the 'FT' font was the same (kind of) and if you're in advertising or marketing you know how powerful a font can be (immediate association with a familiar brand, so I can hardly be laughed at. A broad smirk and raised eyebrow is warranted, however). And I'm only in Toronto twice a year, so hey, you never know. Weirder things have happened (eg. The Jerry Springer Show was made into an opera in London and a roaring success at that). And I've been busier than a thong-maker before Pride Weekend since arriving so there hasn't been time for my daily fashion fixes and I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
So to be fair (what I prefer in place of harsh criticism) - it wasn't really so much a dunce moment as wishful thinking (I can believe that because I want to). How nice it would have been on an otherwise miserable morning to have sections and sections of fashion so vast it would require holding it all up between spanned arms, just to take it all in? (W magazine comes close to matching that description but that wasn't on the table.)
Well, turns out having the Financial Times right there was a good thing after all. For one, it was nice to see what's up in the UK - my primary home. More importantly, there was a piece in the Gardens section by Robin Lane Fox about the ''mixed weather" in the UK (is there any other kind??) giving the blooming season "it's best start in years." Included was a photo of the Paeonia Kelway's Glorious, what Fox believes to be 'the most beautiful flower in the world'. I really wish he'd posted the photo along with the editorial on the FT website because I can't find one as extroardinary. He describes this herbaceous peony as "very special; a free-flowering double whiteish form with a red mark in its middle and the most delicate blush of lilac-pink developing on the outer petals as it ages."
When I saw it, I wanted to eat it. The petals appear almost translucent, and opal in colour. The allure of the double flower is its lush texture, the ruffles upons ruffles which remind me of a Chanel haute couture gown - Lagerfeld has a way of envisioning the textured, feminine details of his garments in such a way that the execution resembles this particular lushness of the double peony. That's what I think, anyway.
Oddly, in every description I find of Paeonia Kelway's Glorious there is no mention of this 'delicate blush of lilac-pink' (the photos I've included depict the beauty of the double flower but the colour isn't anything special) and there is mention of a creamy centre, missing from Fox's photo and description.
So, why is his flower of the same name different? Are there several varieties of the Kelway's Glorious? ((Maybe, but I haven't been able to find evidence of this). Robin Lane Fox, if you have googled yourself and have come across this post and you don't mind admitting that you have done so, would you be a dear and explain it so maybe one day I might be able to see this 'most beautiful flower in the world' in person?
Yes, this does matter to me! Flowers are beautiful and they make me happy. Colour, texture, aroma - what more could you want? And they work so well in fashion. There's the literal approach - I love corsages and I understand the floral pattern trend, it can be pretty, fun and flirty. Then there's Lagerfeld's exquisite interpretation of the floral texture using fabric and it is - whether the inspiration be conscious or not - undeniably brilliant.
And shame on Dolce and Gabbana! With the endless inspiration on this planet, they were recently found guilty of copying four floral patterns belonging to the late Ken Scott for a collection in 2001 (peonies were used heavily in his patterns). Here's one of Scott's gorgeous cotton coats in his Guigno pattern:
Now go get yourself a beautiful bouquet, or even better - send one to someone who will really appreciate it!