STYLE TRIBE SUNDAY – Floral Appreciation Society.

Bettina McILwraith STYLIST. Floral appreciation Society.

Grow where you are planted. Full bloom. Fleur Wood Wall Flower Blazer and Flower Short. LIFEwithBIRD Nature In Motion Shirt Dress (worn as shirt). Lucy folk Pearler Necklace, The Royal Treatment bracelet & Pearl Diver Bracelets. Indigo scarf, Masai collar, Rajasthani Antique Tribal shell bracelets & amulet necklace all appetitefordecoration. Witchery Isabel Over the Knee boots. Custom Goddess Headdress by Ms Candy Sparkles. Stylist Bettina McILwraith aka appetitefordecoration. Photographer Grant Smith. Make up Vanessa Collins. Model Elfy Scott. See the entire STYLE TRIBES shoot on pages digital.


American glamour photographer, Nickolas Muray took many portraits of Frida during their love affair including pioneering, early colour images that have a lush almost painterly quality, that capture well her elaborate costumes and custom headdresses. Sixty years after her death, Muray’s photo of Frida was used as a cover for Mexican VOGUE supplement that coincided with the opening of Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo.  

FLORAL APPRECIATION SOCIETY. Inspired by an authentic love for one another and in honour of the endlessly inspiring Mother Earth, we seek out abundance in full bloom. This most romantic gesture sees us covering our bodies in flora as if we were fresh from the garden ourselves, a fresh and fervent offering. Our need to realign spirit after hours spent indoors and perhaps in contact a lot with a flat screen, ignites our desire for this voluptuous and vital remedy. Frida might just have something to do with it, her iconic style and natural way with les fleurs has been influencing how we dress and how we dress our hair since, well.. since she first wore it so well. The exhibition of her legendary wardrobe at the Frida Kahlo Musuem, formerly the Blue House where she lived with Diego Rivera, included florals en plus and gave force to wearing flowers in your hair like you just don’t care.


I first came across the book Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa four years ago, astounded by the beauty and creative expression within, I purchased it immediately and slept with it under my pillow for months, imagining myself wearing wonky floral and gourd crowns and running naked and body painted. This is bliss. (I wrote about it here – please excuse my no capitals policy of the time and ill knowledge of loading images too – let’s call it progress heh, he he.) 

On another level altogether, the elaborate and magical arrangements of the nomadic Surma and Mersi tribes in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia, serve as some of the most exquisite, natural decoration inspiration you will ever lay your eyes upon, as captured so beautifully by Hans Silvester. Their innate artistic sense in awesome colour and form that frame the face or fall haphazardly show a celebratory self-appreciation that we are continuing to see on the streets, in clubs and on catwalks all over the world, and let me tell you it’s a beautiful thing. This ritualistic self-adornment with the power of flowers traverses the planet too, Jimmy Nelson’s extraordinary photo documentary, Before They Pass Away highlights the natural authenticity of some of the world’s most secluded and visually unique tribes, the Dropkas of Ladakh being a firm floral favourite. The exquisite and ornamental headdresses of the tribe show men too getting in on the floral act. This coming up of roses, orchids or any matter of flower for that fact has been around since the beginning of time and abounds now as we tune in again to a slow love and appreciation of simple pleasures. This is living.


Just 2500 Drokpas live in three small villages in the Dha-Hanu valley of Ladakh, a disputed territory between India and Pakisthan. Their exquisite and ornamental dress reflects their cultural exuberance and impressive appetite for decoration. Intense inspiration is their fashion and fairytale fabulousness. Wonderland.


LOVE this LAND LOVERS campaign for Desert Designs – photographed by Sam Hendel, art direction Caroline Sundt Wels, styling Kitty Callaghan and Alvin Manalo, haute headdresses by  Honey Long and Sami Sweeting.  I’d like it be known now, that I wholeheartedly vote a big YES to Desert Designs designing the next Australian team sport uniforms, flower crowns included. Who’s with me?


Iconic Australian designers Desert DesignsEaston Pearson and Jenny Kee have all used flourish with foliage as a way of further expressing their unique and print tastic viewpoint. Perhaps its the easy proximity to an all abundant natural world that us in the lucky country are privy too, a wakeup to makeup or a knowing of the potential for rejuvenation a crown of bush flowers can administer? All three designers show a generous tribute to the world we live in through their designs and their respective philosophies, native Australian flora being the crowning glory to their gorgeous garms. This is Australian design and back to natural decoration beauty at its best. Bless.


I dont know where to start with Easton Pearson..I have loved Pam and Lydia’s extraordinary clothes since I first came into contact with the label as a fashion buyer for the Husk stores in the year 2000. Now in their 25th year and with a vigour and dedication to experimentation in textiles and print that sees them working with artisans locally and in India, Vietnam and Hong Kong to beautiful effect and with floral designs galore. Wearing their clothes, wanting their clothes, admiring their clothes from afar – it’s all good baby, baby. Example in point, the Kaftan as above left from the Spring Summer 2008/09 collection. First in, best dressed… Sorry, not sorry I have gone a little off track here..but as you see my love is true.


Artists and photographers from all over, not content with a mere floral garland or haute headdress have taken the power of the flower to the next step, enter what I like to call – Flowerface, a full face botanical morph to mesmerizing effect. Prue Stent explores the relationship between the natural landscape and the feminine  form in her playful and energetic photographs that give a heady inspire and delight in full colour. Quintessentially Australian and almost iconic in a Snugglepot and Cuddlepie way but on steroids (of a natural kind of course) and just as magical, Prue’s collaborative Bush Babies series with Honey Long is earthy erotica and flower power at its finest. This lady is most definitely one to watch. Overgrowth, an artistic project by Photographer Parker Fitzgerald, known mostly for his fine work at Kinfolk and Riley Messina, is very in your face florally. Their collaborative whimsy is inspired by the pursuit of beauty in a contrast of anonymous portraiture and thoughtful botanical design which also explores the relationship between humans and the natural world. The study of this relationship is an ongoing theme across all artistic disciplines as we cross over into a higher consciousness, where man and nature live in perfect harmony, soon to be our second nature once more.


Prue Stent perfection. Prue’s fun loving and sensual images celebrate the great Australian landscape and what it’s like to grow up amongst it, to be a part of it. For me personally, they ignite a nostalgic trip into my late teens. Good times. 


Instagram holds a bounty of those dedicated to this floral appreciation society too, the fabulous flower mandalas by Amy Woodruff, perhaps better known as Daughter of the Sun, that leave me most breathless with the beauty of their purity each time she offers them up. Amy’s philosophy of simplicity, earth consciousness and pure clean living includes a healthy devotion to raw veganism, kundalini yoga and juice cleansing – a lifestyle inspired by Pachamama herself. Her ritualistic and earthy art with flowers freshly picked,  breathes new life into this ancient art form. Heaven on earth it is too.

3e7b9490e71f6cb32faef6809dc52393Justina Blakeney, designer and maker, mover, shaker and mumma most adept at the art of flatlay with flowers, bring a dark mysticism with her blooms on black series. Lush blooms in overripe tones beckon and gather a dark and mysterious glamour that’s both flirtatious and high fashion. This most romantic gesture is just one of Justina’s way of play with flowers, her recent facethefoilage series is a must see, if you like me are in on this society?


Mixed media artist Travis Bedel creates stunning collages that merge anatomical imagery with illustrations from science guides and textbooks, including thousands of intricate flowers that really bring the outdoors in. Inhale the good shit for sure. Breathe.


Specialist magazines, trend books and blogs devoted to the art of the flower are on the grow also, the first of its kind being Bloom by legendary trend forecaster Li Edelkoort. Created in 1998 as a response to the ever-growing lifestyles inspired by trends in flowers, plants and gardening, the current and flamboyant bumper issue is all about Brazil. Totally immersive and awe inspiring photography and wonderful written word speak to all levels of industry including fashion, interiors, packaging, architecture, cosmetics, industrial design and food. Club Donny, a journal on the personal experience of nature in the urban environment, invites followers to partner in their initiative through their contribution of photographs. Within club donny you’ll find great said photographs of how people and the community at large are getting back to nature within their urban environments – think gardening tips, links to apple pickings, where to buy the best cactus, global garden events, smart green articles, how to make elderflower lemonade and flowers galore of course. Get involved. Last and by no means least here is the wonder blog The Planthunter, a blow your socks off and celebratory alternative to the typical garden variety style of information  on plants we grew up with. Inspiring monthly themes, beautiful storytelling and thirty plus contributors has made this online magazine a must read for plant lovers and lovers of a great read alike. Georgina Reid, founder and editor of the Planthunter, also landscape designer and writer has revamped how we interact with plant life, “weaving a rich story of connection and respect between humans, culture, plants and the environment.” Yes, it is as wow as it sounds. Green is good.


Full BLOOM in Brazil. Art Director Sergio Macado and Photographer Rogerio Cavalcanti showcase the most unique local and outsider talent of this luscious country in the latest edition, sure to generate a plethora of plant based ideas for years to come. 


So great is our love for the power of the petal now, that we readily eat them in dainty and most colourful form, sharing the love in salads, green smoothies and atop raw and real cake glory like never before, all the while imagining the beautific powers that will soon become us. Lily Vanilli, a London-based baker and cake designer extraordinaire creates bespoke cakes that look almost too beautiful to devour, but for the fact that they are food porn of the highest order and you will want your way with them sooner rather than later. Lashings of icing across tiers of sponge, scattered with flowers that whisper at you “eat me “, make for floral erotica of the foodie kind. Foodoo. Matt and Lentil of grown and gathered grow over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, cut and edible flowers from just over an acre of land outside of Melbourne. One particularly awe-inspiring aspect of their business is The Flower Exchange, a project close to their hearts that stems from their desire to create community, share abundance and make conversation. They ask “What is the value of flowers? It seems impossible to equate the amount of time and effort, art and love involved in growing them. And why should we? Flowers are about beauty and joy and colour and emotion. Money can’t buy that.” You can trade anything for their flowers as long as it is thoughtful… this splendid and conscious concept  is the future of community and abundant business. Eat it and flourish.


At home too we revel in floral art, our sideboards, dressing tables and bathroom shelves become altars of style and spirit, laden with goodness from the garden, It girl florists or freshly picked from the planter box or garden bed or perhaps stolen from the park while walking home late at night.. These abundant, altar style arrangements complete with daily offerings of incense, fruit, found objects and fresh flowers of course are inspired by travels in exotic locations where altar offerings are a divine daily ritual. This show of gratitude gives added value to the glory from the garden and create an awesome atmosphere at home, away or on holiday. Go on and bring the outdoors in. This is how we live.


Welcome blossoms into your wardrobe, atop your head and into your home en force, wherever in the world you may be, for it’s free love and feel good in one. Please join me in full bloom on my instagram and pinterest and join this festive, floral club by tagging your own floral appreciation society pictures. Some inspiring word as a farewell, these motivational posters by Zachary Gibson were intended to initiate and encourage people to persevere. Power to the people. Don’t Stop. x


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