Floral Couture: ‘Shadows’

Handmade for British Flowers Week, ‘Shadows’, Zita Elze’s latest living embroidery gown, is in the limelight. It featured centrefold in The Daily Telegraph’s gardening pages last Saturday and centre stage on BFW’s site on Day 1 of the campaign. Since then, the superlatives just keep flowing.

The concept for this ethereal flower dress emerged from the shadows, a manifestation of Zita’s creative mood, sparked by her chosen flower for BFW, British larkspur, a close cousin of delphinium: “As with all my work the idea came from inside, a blend of emotions melting into colours and half-glimpsed images which took full shape once I started working with the flowers.” Drawing from a palette of rich mauves, blues, and deep purples lifted by the lush green of its stems and unopened buds, Zita fashioned a lavish flowing skirt of pure larkspur with a fitted bodice embroidered using individual flower heads, adding clematis, delphinium, nepeta, astrantia, nigella and cornflowers. With a wink to French couture, a few jewels sparkle amidst the painterly blooms. The whole design was tailored on a base of charcoal chiffon, which originally also shrouded the mannequin from head to foot. Complementing the blue-violet, amethyst and burgundy shades at the front, the back of the bodice was awash with just one tone of paler larkspur, a single clematis adorning the nape.

Photography © Julian Winslow / New Covent Garden Flower Market; mannequin courtesy of Panache Display

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