Fashion & Beauty / Collections Digest

Christian Dior Couture: Bringing the Orchid Back?

Having suffered the ill fate of Ikea mass availability, can Dior help make the orchid chic, once again?

Dior Couture A/W14
Dior Couture A/W14 Photography by Alina Negoita

Christian Dior loved flowers. Marie-France Pochna outlined the importance of blooms in her respected Dior Biography: Lauchhaume were his favourite florists and lily of the valley was his lucky flower. Orchids were once the chosen flower of a gift to his partner Marcel Boussac:

"Lauchaume had delivered a floral arrangement to his partner, Marcel Boussac, the previous evening, courtesy of Dior. Boussac had been completely in the dark throughout the preparations of the previous months, and this long-awaited sign from his protégé took his breath away. Upon his return from the office to his home in Neuilly, he was greeted by a striking ensemble of black and white orchids illuminating his front hall, a gesture all the more delicate given Boussac’s passion for orchids, which he grew in a hothouse in Chantilly. Boussac hurried up to his wife’s apartments. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, “ he cried. “There isn’t a florist in the world who could have created a bouquet as beautiful as the one I have just seen. I’m quite certain tomorrow will be a huge success!”"

Yesterday, Raf Simons created the next orchid chapter in Dior history, in collaboration with Mark Colle. Antwerp-based Colle is a longstanding collaborator of Simons and has worked with him on his fashion shows since his A/W12 Jil Sander collection. For his fall 2014 couture collection, Colle covered the curved mirrored walls of the Rodin Museum entirely in white orchids.

"The idea was to create transparency", Colle explains. "Something very light. The use of phalaenopsis orchids was perfect in this particular setting – they have a feminine feel yet there is something alien and futuristic about them (which is also the reason why I enjoy working with them so much). Rather then having them hanging from the walls in a garden type of way, I thought it would be more interesting to have them go many different directions, as if they were an army of white spiders spreading out over the mirrored walls."

"The use of orchids is particularly interesting, as in recent times, they have become a less favoured flower. Perhaps as a result of the availability in supermarkets and Ikea"

The most highly coveted of ornamental plants, the delicate, exotic and graceful orchid traditionally represents love, luxury, beauty and strength. In ancient Greece, orchids were associated with virility. In fact, Greek women believed that if the father of their unborn child ate large, new orchid tubers, the baby would be a boy. If the mother ate small orchid tubers, she would give birth to a girl. During the Victorian era, orchid symbolism shifted to luxury, magnificence and artful splendor.

The use of orchids is particularly interesting, as in recent times, they have become a less favoured flower. Perhaps as a result of the availability in supermarkets and Ikea? Although, it's safe to say, the orchid can recover from such things, unlike the gerbera who was chosen as the flower provided with VW Beetles, supermarket bouquets and Pizza Express tables.

Are we about to see orchids replacing the current fashion favourite cacti and succulents?

Text by Laura Bradley