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The Language of Flowers

Written by Bianca Elgar

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Posted on March 19 2019

“Flowers are love in search of a voice”

 Flowers are love in search of a voice; a visual expression of emotion when there are no words.   We send them  to celebrate, to give thanks and to express our love.  In times of sadness and joy, flowers are symbolic not only of love and sympathy, but also the beauty and fragility of life: the life of a flower is fleeting, but the memories we hold, and the lives we have lived are indelible.

 

 Flower symbolism and mythology has evolved over thousands of years and they have long been used in both life and art to convey hidden meaning. In the Victorian era ‘floriography’, or cryptic communication through the use of flowers, was widely used through the giving of nosegays and bouquets, heavy with connotation and sentiment.

 It’s a concept which has never gone out of style and each generation has had their own interpretation, from Ophelia’s offering of rosemary for remembrance in Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Hamlet, to a wilted flower emoji posted online to proclaim a broken heart. As a child of the sixties and seventies, I was brought up with the concept of ‘Flower Power’, and so I wanted to design something with a modernist twist when creating my own 'Language of Flowers'.

Love emblem

I had been playing with the idea when a few years ago I spent some time in Abu Dhabi.  There, I visited the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, commissioned in 1996 by then Deputy Prime Minister and later president of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It is a testament to the cultural diversity of the Islamic world and transcends both the historic and the modern.  I was captivated by the floor in the courtyard, featuring marble flowers, wrought in coloured mosaic, which extend their tendrils across the white marble low-relief.

The design was created by Kevin Dean, an artist and designer trained at the Royal College of Art and it is truly breath-taking (in fact it is the top-rated sight in Abu Dhabi).  I found it incredibly inspiring, not least because it so accurately conveyed the strength and power that flowers hold – this was no ditsy floral, it was naturalistic, bold, iconic and beautiful all at once. It made me think of using flowers in design in a new, exciting way.

I put a lot of thought into which types of flowers I wanted to use, as it was very important to me that each should have a clear meaning.  Eventually I settled on these three:

The Rose
The ultimate symbol of love, beauty and balance - of all the flowers, the rose is probably the one most steeped in legend and mythology.
The Forget Me Not
The flower of true love and also remembrance. Its bright blue petals are a welcome harbinger of Spring and new life.
The Passion Flower
Most famous as a symbol for the passion of Christ, the Passion Flower is also known as the clock flower or the wheel of fortune and in India it is known as the symbol of a sisterly love.

 

I created the basic design using the screen print method and each has its own distinct colour way – warm reds, pinks and orange for the Rose print, a sky-full of blues for Forget Me Not and clashing lilac, purples and yellows for Passion Flower.   

Digitally printed onto finest 100% silk twill, The Language of Flowers collection is available in a variety of luxurious accessories including skinny scarves for casual insouciant chic, traditional silk squares and also the Sleeved Scarf – my own design of which I’m very proud, created to be versatile and add statement style to your existing wardrobe.  I’ve also used them as a mixed print for my Tube Top which can be worn as a top, a shrug or as an indulgently over-sized scarf, (see below). 

Three generations with large Language of Flowers silk squares

 I was incredibly honoured last year, when the prints were awarded Platinum in the A’Design International Awards, the world’s largest juried design competition.

 I’m currently developing this print for use in my new lifestyle collection – just watch this space!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to Blog Post
https://www.biancaelgar.com/blogs/behind-the-brand-blogs-inspiration-and-musings/a-visit-to-como-gala-event-for-adesign-award-winners