Globe-Trotter explores the enduring appeal of flowers and their surprising hidden symbolism
When Kate Middleton walked down the aisle to wed Prince William, all eyes were on her dress, but for many, the bride’s floral bouquet made just as much a statement.
The ostensibly simple bunch of creamy white and green blooms told a very personal story. Designed by London’s Shane Connolly Flowers, the Duchess’s bouquet symbolised the joining of two families by incorporating favourite blooms from both sides. And the flowers themselves were full of symbolism: lilies for the return of happiness; hyacinths for steady love; ivy for fidelity and friendship; and myrtle, the emblem of matrimony. And, of course, a few sprigs of Sweet William.
There is so much more to flowers than meets the eye. Discrete and elegant, some containing secret medicinal properties, flowers have been interpreted as good luck charms or sometimes bad omens for centuries. Lilies may take pride of place in a regal wedding bouquet, and were popular with Ancient Greek and Roman brides as symbols of purity and a fruitful union, but in many cultures they are associated with death and funerals.
And when it comes to design, creative types have been captivated by Mother Nature and her many hidden secrets for decades.
“Flowers are forever in fashion and they give us so much in terms of colour, texture and form,” agrees Globe-Trotter designer and flower fanatic, Charlotte Seddon. “They’re the gift that keeps on giving.”
When it came to designing the Globe-Trotter Spring/Summer 2020 collection, Seddon turned to the romance of an English garden, with an emphasis on bohemian wildflowers.
“The vision was to imagine you’re in a garden and you’re looking out and all you can see is a sea of wildflowers — it’s England in bloom,” she explains.
The vibrant yet delicate watercolour-printed lining captures the magnificence of spring. And, of course, each bloom tells its own story:
FLOWER SYMBOLISM IN THE CHELSEA GARDEN COLLECTION
Often found growing in humble places, the beautiful poppy is a well-known symbol of peace. Named after the Latin word pappa, meaning ‘milk’, the poppy’s sap was used by Ancient Greeks, Egyptian, and Romans in sedatives.
A preppy bright blue flower that can symbolise hope, unity, wealth, and prosperity.
This meadow flower spreads positivity wherever she goes. Named after the ancient greek word for ‘dolphin’ because of the shape of its flowers, Delphinium symbolises achieving goals and enjoying the lighter side of life.
Renowned for its intoxicating scent and sleep-inducing properties, lavender has been a natural symbol for serenity, grace and calmness for centuries.
The vibrant marigold is symbolic of the sun, beauty and creativity. However, in Mexican culture it is associated with Día de Muertos and remembering the deceased.
Enchanting as they are, be wary of picking wild foxgloves as doing so is said to upset fairies! This dazzling wildflower has a magical quality and is said to symbolise energy, intuition, creativity, ambition and confidence.
THE INSIDE STORY
Charlotte Seddon talks flower power and secret London outdoor spaces
Tell us about the illustrations for the SS20 collection
They were done by my husband, Chris, who is an illustrator. We asked him to do a bit of a watercolour effect, which gives you a nice, dreamy aesthetic. We’ve got two versions of the case: a day garden and a night garden. The day version is more feminine and spring-like, whereas with the night garden, we wanted to create a fairly tonal image for the lining. Chris used black ink to create an ivy illustration. We wanted a more masculine version and the idea was for it to look as if you were in a garden at night and saw a wall of ivy.
What is the enduring appeal of florals in fashion?
I think flowers are just so classic. They’re timeless and classy and they’ll never go out of fashion. There’s so much you can do with flowers and you can represent them in lots of different ways. We can put flowers together, make an arrangement and grow them from seeds but we haven’t designed them; they’ve been designed by Mother Nature, and that’s amazing. They give us so much happiness.
How does your taste in flowers reflect your personal style?
My least favourites would be gerberas and sunflowers — I find them a bit too prim and proper, which is not what I’m like! I love wildflowers, so maybe there’s a bit of that in me. One of my favourite flowers is amaranthus, which is more of a foliage flower. I’ve got a lot of dried flowers too and I love all things vintage.
What kind of flowers do you like to recieve?
I’d much rather receive a bunch of seasonal flowers that are grown locally to support local farmers and reduce carbon footprint. It’s peony season now and it’s a short window of time, so they are quite special.
Is there a particular flower that is special to you?
Carnations. They were my grandma’s favourite, she would always buy them so they’ve always been quite special to me. My friend hates them and she thinks they’re very common but I think they’re lovely. I also love dried honesty. It reminds me of being a kid because my mum always had it in the house – I think there was a bit of a trend for it in the 1980s! It’s green initially when you buy it fresh and then you peel off the layers and you get a transparent sculptural shape.
We are spending more time indoors these days. What area of your home is always full of flowers?
I’m in quite a small flat so they’re sort of everywhere. I put dried flowers in corners that don’t get much light and I usually have a nice vase full of flowers on a table in the living room that sits in a nice sunny spot. We also have aloe vera in the bedroom because that’s good for circulation. I’m normally always dragging my husband to Columbia Road every Sunday!
When you do venture outside, what open spaces do you like to explore in London?
Woodberry Wetlands is local to where I live and there are lots of flowers in bloom there. I also love Springfield Park. Even on a hot summer’s day it’s a bit more deserted than other parks in London. It’s on a big hill and overlooks Tottenham Marshes and has the River Lea on one side. There’s something really nice and peaceful about it – it’s one of my special places. And, of course, Kew Gardens and Hampstead Heath are absolutely beautiful. Because people haven’t been going out that much recently, I think the green spaces in London and beyond are more green. Everything feels a bit brighter.