Real fashion moments – ones that genuinely move you – happen very rarely. This season, the moment was Raf Simon's final collection for Jil Sander after a prolific seven years. Simons decided to compliment his 36-look collection with six flower arrangements, highlighting the palette of the collection and encased in plexiglass cubes created by Antwerp-based florist Mark Colle. The flowers – now wilting, possessing a different kind of beauty – have since been displayed at the Jil Sander showroom in Milan.
Having worked as a florist since the age of 15, Colle now owns a small shop called Baltimore, named after his favourite city. For this fashion floral exclusive, AnOther spoke exclusively with Colle about how the collaboration came about, the ideas behind the arrangements and his thoughts about being a part of Raf's memorable show...
How did the collaboration between yourself and Raf Simons come about?
I've known Raf for a long time, he often comes into the shop. He phoned about three weeks before the show and asked me if I would be interested in creating flower arrangements for the show.
What were the key ideas behind the arrangements?
The most important thing was that they were all different and reflect the collection; highlighting the romance, femininity and fragility of the designs. He also wanted them to be slightly abstract so that's why we used the plexiglass cubes; it was the first time I'd used these. I only saw a few pieces from the collection but I saw all of the fabrics and colours that were going to be used.
Can you describe the six arrangements – did you have a favourite?
There was one that was very colourful, very bright; one that was very pale; another which had almost entirely red, unusual species of orchids; another that looked like morning dew, the kind one would see walking through a jungle. I didn't really have a favourite. When we first started making them, there were ones that I preferred but when I saw them all together they worked perfectly as a group.
"The show was mind-blowing... the clothes, the flowers, the music, the colours, the knowledge that it was going to be Raf's last show"
Can you describe the working process?
I arrived on Tuesday and I had to condition the flowers and crop the stems which took a day. Then I spent the next day making the arrangements. I worked alone, I don't really like having people around me when I'm working on a project such as this.
What was Raf's reaction when he saw the arrangements?
When he saw the very first arrangement placed in the glass cube he was shocked, in a good way. He was very happy. The reaction from the audience was also really positive – even Anna Wintour liked them!
What was your experience of the show and the collection?
The show was mind-blowing. Everything worked so well together: the clothes; the flowers; the music (Mazzy Star, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins);the colours (blush pink, coffee, pale grey and black); the knowledge that it was going to be Raf's last show. It was very emotional – even I had a hard time keeping my eyes dry.
Where do you get your flowers from, and what type of flower do you like working with most?
I get all of the special types of flowers from Holland – I used to go twice a week but it's impossible so I now go once a week. I get the rest from local Antwerp suppliers. I like old-fashioned flowers, particularly that most people regard as a bit tacky, like carnations and old-fashioned roses.
What do you like most about being a florist?
That it's always different – the seasons, the colours, the assignments. And flowers make people happy!
The Jil Sander A/W12 collection is available to pre-order here.
Text by Laura Bradley