I have always loved this photo of Lady Rhoda Birley (1900-1980), glamorous Irish beauty and unbridled eccentric by even the strictest of standards.
(Lady Rhoda Birley, photographed by Valerie Finniss)
If it looks like the plants are craning to be close to her, it's probably not an illusion. According to her daughter, Maxime de la Falaise, she would often bake lobster thermidor and feed it to her flowers: "She would forget that she was making it for the garden, and add a bit of cognac, some garlic and spices. The roses would almost cry out with pleasure." (Let's all take a moment to compose ourselves after reading that, shall we?)
Moving on, this photo of actress Emma Watson effortlessly captures her irrepressible enthusiasm and youthful joie de vivre. The masses of flowers strewn everywhere, the worn rug on the ground, the colorful chair and her crazy fabulous outfit create a multi-layered scene illustrating my favorite design principle -- the charms of disorder.
(Teen Vogue, August 2009, photographed by Arved Colvin Smith)
There's more unkempt luxury in this next portrait: the profusion of roses, the striped sofa, the crumbling brick wall with those lovely vines trailing down...and Miss Chloe Sevigny in the midst of it all, soignee and smiling. I felt a strange twinge of deja vu when I saw this photo and after a brief search through my images, realized why.
(House and Garden, January 2007, photographed by Francois Halard)
Am I crazy or does this pairing of fabrics from the Cecil Beaton Fabric Collection perfectly capture the spirit of the photograph?
(Ashcombe Stripe and Beaton Rose, via their website)
Continuing the Cecil Beaton theme, here is Tim Walker's 2005 photo of Madonna at Ashcombe House, Beaton's former home. Looking at it now, I find it slightly unsettling. Surrounded by elegance and beauty (and all those loose petals), she seems nonetheless at a slight remove from it.
(Vogue, August 2005, photographed by Tim Walker)
Interestingly enough, faded roses symbolize transience, a fact that seems prescient when you consider that the house now belongs to her ex-husband.