At McQueens flowers, florists garner inspiration from extensive and inestimable sources. Some more surprising than others.
Something so glorious about flowers is the universality of their appreciation. Our worldwide anthophilia has lent itself to confounding cultural creations across the planet. A long-standing muse for both our aesthetic and ethos, Ikebana; the Japanese practice of flower arranging, flows strongly through the venation of our work.
This rich and time-honoured tradition is more than a technique of floristry - it’s an art-form. Masters of Ikebana in ancient Japan would spend vast chapters of their lives studying, practicing, and venerating the craft. Ikebana’s influence has long percolated into the world of Western floristry, one can see its impacts - from the work of famous florist Constance Spry to the modern minimalistic style many contemporary designers are moving towards.
In late 2020, McQueens Flowers were thrilled to be approached by revered portrait, fashion and still life photographer Otto Masters
- to come together for an editorial shoot for January's edition of L’officiel Thailand
. The result was a truly collaborative project. Working alongside a talented team of London based clothing and set stylists, hair and make-up artists, as well as garments created by predominantly designers in the capital, the project was certainly a celebration of the incredible diversity of talent this city fosters.
McQueens Flowers Senior Designer Hamish Powell led the floral design, both embracing the tradition and adding a modern flair. Hamish drew on an array of Ikebana styles including Nageirebana, Moribana, and Jiyuka.
The editorial features eight looks, each a symbiosis of participation. The makeup reflected the set which reflected the flowers which reflected the outfit which reflected the hair which reflected the set. A mood’s lifecycle growing and undoing before the lens. With each look, an accompanying monument of flowers is presented, akin to the initial alter offerings Ikebana first developed from.
Come with us to explore the wonderful world of ‘IKEBANA’ for L’officiel Thailand.
Hamish sat down with Otto to discuss more this collaborative project.
Otto is was a pleasure to collaborate with your on this project; to have a fashion editorial so florally focussed is a such an indulgence. What lead you down the direction of this shoot?
And we must indulge our senses as much as possible! I have always been fascinated by the abundant nature around us and the beauty of the natural world. I started my photographic journey with flowers as a teenager, and reignited my love of still life during lockdown, I thought it would be so fantastic to shoot a project all about the most fleeting beauty that are flowers. A large part of my work is influenced by Japanese culture, art principles and aesthetics, so I really wanted to bring this into such a project. To translate the imperfect balancing act of nature that is Ikebana, and how this can be pushed into the future, following that storyline with hairstyling, makeup and fashion.
Watching your technical wizardry behind the scenes in the studio was a treat in itself, shooting in three mediums and controlling light beams like a trainer at Crufts - what’s your advice on best capturing a flower’s beauty?
Nothing is perfect in this world, but it’s about always looking and observing to find the beauty in the disarray. The not so obvious beauty, but that which is waiting if you take the time to look upon it. To some, it may be a simple flower, but if the light catches it just right, and the petals, leaves, and stem shine with a translucent haze, then you can really appreciate all that the natural world is willingly giving and trying to get us to notice. If we only take the time to stop and appreciate it.
Every look you shot is mesmerising, is there one you’re particularly fond of?
I keep being drawn back to one of the larger Ikebana pieces that you designed for our look at plastic and pollution. By using plastic waste we collected that would’ve been discarded and giving it a new lease of life in this intertwined, almost dance-like, form with the foliage really takes my breath away. To me, this piece really tells a story in the most beautiful way.
Florals designed by Hamish Powell @hamishpowell
Photography and direction by Otto Masters @otto.masters
Fashion styling by Lorena Hydeman @LorenaHydeman
Set design by Hugo Aguirre @Hugoaguirre_design
Hair styling by Linus Johansson @hairbylinus
Makeup by Yoiwan Kong @yoiwan
Elexa Tanner, SiuHei Chung, Jennifer Watts, Mary Maguet, Makito Uchida, Jewel Yang Yue, Clara Yiu Chung, and Mukeni N.