Monday, August 10, 2009

Say It With Flowers

There is something so quintessentially English about having your portrait taken in the garden, don't you think? I need a good photo of myself and am considering such a setting for mine. In the spirit of research, I've culled a few of my favorites for inspiration. 

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.

16 comments:

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh, I think you should choose Avedon's portrait of Dovima with the elephants!!

little augury said...

Lisa- a beautiful post-& again "great minds"(perhaps?) My post today is all about CB and Beverley Nichols-has the Beaton fabric,roses- the whole bit.Have been doing lots of flower posts from Fleur Cowles flower book- You should join the discussion. Isn't Emma Watson a doll? She is in our Bloomsbury post too-Would love to see that linked to your beautiful blog someday.More Beverley Nichols tomorrow. G.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Hi Lisa-

Most inspiring! Yum, lobster Thermidor...when did you last see that on a menu, 1912?

Of course, there was the fantastic photo of Lucie de la Falaise (Lady Birley's great grand daughter) in the garden in a straw Breton hat on one of the first issues of HG (remember that...June 1988. It's such a lovely photo and a superb cover. I have it on my desk.
The cover headline seems perfect for your garden thoughts: Into the Garden!
Cheers and happy days, www.thestylesaloniste.com

pve design said...

My friend Elizabeth would be the perfect photographer for your photo shoot, indoors or out. She has an incredible garden full of delightful roses and more...
I can see you already there.
pve

Prairie Girl Studio said...

"let's all take a moment to compose ourselves after reading that, shall we?" ... priceless!
i am so thinking a bottle of cognac ought to be in your portrait ... perhaps slightly hidden so only the discerning eye would catch it ... and maybe a few other 'props' for your secret garden ... remember to wear a wry smile ... to keep the roses on their toes's'!
seriously ~ it truly is a marvelous idea lisa!
prairiegirl

THE DOMESTIC DAISY said...

I love your blog!! I just discovered it and this post is only one of the many hilarious and witty on your blog. Thanks for making my day great!!!

Scott Fazzini said...

Emma Watson... my heart is still racing from that photo! If I had a garden I'd want a portrait just like that; although I'm certain that I wouldn't look nearly as good in that chic little number as she does.

amber darling said...

Portraits in gardens! Thank you for reminding us of the elegance of styled portraits (gardens or no). I am quite over the quickie snaps of the digital camera age. A little time and some stylish abandon...and you get something to treasure through the ages.

My favourite photo of my father was taken, at his request, on the morning of my sister's wedding. He asked to be photographed on his own, in front of the russet-hued Japanese maple, wearing his father-o-the-bride suit. Usually he is found in outfits akin to the wardrobe of the Crocodile Hunter (!), so this was a VERY uncharacteristic display of vanity.

Thanks for rekinding this precious memory. You are delicious!

Debra said...

Love these images. Please share the portrait with us when you have it done.

Amy said...

Those are beautiful portraits you posted! I think it's a wonderful idea to have your picture taken in a garden. Emma Watson is so cute and lovely and elegant too! The chair in her picture is darling but I love the flowers in Chloe Sevigny's picture and that great couch! So many options! I know your phot will be wonderful!

Amy

Laura [What I Like] said...

Emily Watson looks absolutely perfect...and you're right about Madonna, she looks a tad shattered among all of those dying roses. I think a photo of you in a garden would perfectly convey your whole sensibility. Is the portrait for a project or personal enjoyment?

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Pamela: I LOVE that idea!

Little Augury: Just read your post on Nichols and Beaton...so funny, I just finished reading BN's biography...have you read all his books? I'm lost in "Laughter on the Stairs" and am parcelling out the pages because I don't ever want it to end.

Diane: I can't remember that HG cover...but I love Lucie d.l.F. That entire genepool is pretty fabulous.

PVE: Will she be in LA anytime soon?! xx

Prairie Girl: Love the cognac idea, but in my case, it would either be Lillet or St. Germain.... mmmm!

Domestic Daisy: Thank you so much and welcome to ABL! xx

Scott Fazzini: Don't sell yourself short... :)

Amber: That photo of your father sounds incredible...I wish I could see it, but I almost do from your fabulous description!

Debra: It's a deal.

Amy: I agree that having upholstered furniture outside is an especially successful design ploy to create that decadent feeling... I will make sure to drag something out for the photo-to-be...

Laura: It's for no reason in particular except for the fact that I think EVERYONE should have one stunning photo of themselves, and since I'm behind the camera so much, I am strangely missing from all of our family snaps...! I figured it's high time I remedy that situation.

Anzu said...

Great post! And a great idea - I would love to have a photo done like this too, and it is very English.
Strange with the Madonna photo. I do think it is stunning. It's funny what stories photographs can tell or hide.

Heather Taylor said...

I love this post! Have you seen this book: Garden People: The Photographs of Valerie Finnis? Fabulous!

Clare said...

I love this post and the images you chose for this theme are incredible. Clare. www.claredayflowers.ca

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