In a very charming article on the role flowers play in fashion, someone observes, “flowers and fashion seem effortlessly entwined; the perfect fit; an obvious match” (https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/intelligence/how-floristry-became-a-fashion-business?utm_source=Subscribers&utm_campaign=861a23aef9-sat-nl-draft&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d2191372b3-861a23aef9-417297929).
There is no industry where more flowers are exchanged amongst parties than fashion. The claim above says more, though: fashion and flowers are “the perfect fit.” The article is about all the ways flowers figure in fashion and the doing of fashion business so this interesting claim isn’t explained or thematized as such. It’s a pity, as it is intriguing. I’ll likely come back to this idea in the future, but here are some initial thoughts.
The article is perhaps most about the role of florists in fashion and it is an interesting question to wonder whether fashion design is more akin to being a florist or a gardener. Maybe designers can be broken into two camps: florists and gardeners?
I love gardening, botanical drawings, and Dante’s name for God, the Eternal Gardener. I’m a big fan of Tolkien, and he loved gardens, too.
Florists perhaps can be thought of as the Platonists of the flower world. Isolating flowers from the elements, landscape, and creatures of the garden. Gardeners sometimes play with this themselves, putting flowers in an urn, for example. There is an obvious way to think of the florist through the act of isolation revealing the Platonic Form of the flower. Perhaps too obvious? Merleau-Ponty argues that objects rise to definition only by a sort of dispersion amongst all the other objects in the environment which cast a gloss, so to say, over each other. The isolating act doesn’t give you the core of a thing only just another thing. Plato is the wrong way of looking at objects.
Readers know I am interested in Shaftesbury’s value tones and gardening is one of his very favourite subjects. Why do we like gardens? They are replete with value tones: though I think Shaftesbury favours Plato his account is compatible with Merleau-Ponty’s (please see the previous two posts on Merleau-Ponty and the ontology of clothes).
Can fashion really be like flower arranging? Like the gardener, isn’t the designer working with the elements, the landscape, the body, its glory and blemishes? Is the body akin to a garden? The designer tied to a geography, therefore? History also seems to figure in a comparable way in both. Gardeners typically inherit gardens in much the same way as a new head of creative at a storied fashion house inherits a legacy. In the English tradition, even newly designed gardens inherit a landscape to be obeyed. The French garden tradition inspired by Descartes is quite different in this regard but the body does seem to require fashion to hold an “English” approach. A Cartesian novitas mundi doesn’t really seem plausible in fashion.
Readers! Please share your thoughts. These are just my first thoughts.