Thursday, November 01, 2012
The New Constance Spry Style
I have lived in a high-rise building for some years now, and I love it. Every morning, my newspaper is placed outside of my front door. I have a trash chute conveniently located within reach of my kitchen's service entrance. And what's not to love about having a lobby staffed by somebody 24 hours a day? The one thing I lament about living in a high-rise, though, is that I have no yard from which to clip flowers, leaves, branches, and pine cones for my floral arrangements.
My childhood home's property yielded all kinds of wonderful yet uncomplicated flowers and greenery. There were gardenia, camellias, magnolia and oak trees, and beautiful holly bushes that bore fiery crimson berries come Christmastime. Our property was my mother's floral market, and her arrangements always reflected what was blooming and thriving outdoors. What I remember most, though, was how loose and simple her arrangements were. A single magnolia blossom floating in a silver revere bowl, or branches of copper colored oak leaves perched within an antique glass fish bowl. They weren't studied nor fussed about. These arrangements were as Mother Nature intended, in a way.
When House Beautiful asked that I write a blog post about what the "New Constance Spry Style" means to me, I started to think about Spry's artistic, iconoclastic, and, most importantly, naturalistic floral arrangements. (In case you're not familiar with Spry, she was one of the most noted floral designers of the 20th century. Her arrangements took the fashionable set by storm in the late 1920s and 30s thanks to Spry's then offbeat use of greenery like grasses, leaves, and seed heads.) It occurred to me that after years of living without a yard- and years of relying upon my local grocery store for flowers like lilies, roses, and carnations- that I forgot that arrangements don't have to be tight, compact, and of one variety. After all, our houses aren't one note, so why should our vases of flowers lack diversity? Maybe it is high-time for me to heed Spry's advice and start mixing eucalyptus leaves, kale, or pussy willow into my arrangements. Perhaps I need to tone down the bright colors to which I am attracted and start seeking flowers in shades of dusty greens, soft pinks, and pale gold. Oh, and grass. I need to do as Spry did and add grass to my floral arrangements.
Well, while I figure out from whose yard I can retrieve this greenery and grass, I leave you with a few photos of arrangements that reflect the spirit and creativity of Spry. They were all done by Michal Evans, one of the foremost floral and event designers in the South. (I consider him to be Atlanta's own Constance Spry.) I crave all of Michal's designs, but what I like about these are their complexity. By building layers of flowers and greenery of different colors, textures, and shapes, Evans has created masterpieces that are artistic, intriguing, and really quite beautiful. More importantly, though, they look like arrangements of which Mother Nature would approve.
*This post will be featured in the December/January issue of House Beautiful.
The photo at top is courtesy of House Beautiful, December/January 2012. The remaining photos courtesy of Michal Evans.