A Bouquet for THAT Fairy Tale Bride!

On July 29 and on an incredible and much more summery day 35 years ago, the world was ‘lost’ in a sea of enthusiastic flag waving, military parades, dubious hats, the soaring strains of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, swathes of ivory taffeta and unbridled patriotic fever to celebrate the wedding of the Prince of Wales to the Lady Diana Spencer.

As a young teenager and naive monarchist who would happily spend hours sketching designs for wedding flowers on the odd bit of paper; I remember being the first to claim the best seat in front of the television at the home of my grandparents to watch this real fairy tale wedding.

When some years later we heard the chatter about mistresses, dubious telephone calls, obsessive bahaviour and emotional turmoil; I and the other 750 million who tuned in to watch this unique and frothy spectacle would soon come to learn that this fairy tale had not ended on a happily ever after!

But what of that wedding?

Even though I had been excitedly anticipating seeing the dress; my excitement soon faded when I finally saw that huge crumpled frock and even as I write this, I can only think of that wonderful quip from Fiona in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral; ‘Scarlett, you’re blind, she looks like a big meringue.’

Five years later on another sunny July day, I watched Sarah Ferguson promising to ‘love, honour and obey’ the Duke of York at Westminster Abbey and even though she couldn’t even find the City of York on a map for a US television interview; I still believe that she really was a beautiful bride.

Although I had been a florist for some time before the union of the fun-loving Fergie to the boorish Duke in July 1986, I can only remember one or two commissions from brides who wished to emulate her S-shaped bouquet of gardenias, yellow roses, cream lilies and the obligatory sprig of myrtle grown from a cutting of Queen Victoria’s bouquet.

Diana’s bouquet, however was quite a different thing altogether and although it isn’t one of my personal favourites; I remain just as impressed by this betrothal extravagance of flora and fauna even now!

Even three years after this wedding and as an eager trainee florist I would be wiring lily of the valley, stephanotis, gardenias, yellow roses and endless ivy leaves every Friday afternoon as the ‘Diana Bouquet’ was the fashionable choice for every aspiring fairy tale bride and even thirteen years later; a mock-up of this bouquet in silk flowers displayed in my design room would still attract admirers with a request of ‘Ooo! Could I just hold this please?’

And so it was that one summer with time of my hands and the need for a challenge, I created a bouquet designed as a ‘shower’ in 12th scale inspired by the one carried by Lady Diana Spencer.

And, yes, it really was a challenge!

For not only did it take several attempts with varying degrees of success to manipulate the individual flowers into place with a combination of strong wire and determination; I also had to curb my enthusiasm for adding more ivy leaves and risk a creation suitable for my niece’s Barbie doll!

Yesterday and running the risk of an inquisitive peck from one of my resident chickens, I ventured to the bottom of my garden to capture an image of this bouquet on top of the old corbel which has often served as a useful photographic prop for my creations, 12th scale or otherwise.

And as I was firing off these images, I couldn’t help musing on my recollection of how much easier it  had been to create the ‘Diana Bouquet’ in ‘real’ fauna and flora!

Adieu for now!

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So Final, So Over. The Death of Marilyn Monroe…

August 5 commemorates the untimely death of Marilyn Monroe at the age of 36, an effervescent glamour puss and arguably the most famous female icon of all time.

My interest in Marilyn began as a teenager as I was waiting for a flight to Spain for having spent most of my holiday fund on the book by Fred Lawrence Guiles in an airport store and to the consternation of my family, I then spent the rest of the week with my head buried within the pages and I have been reading about her ever since!

Her mysterious death on Sunday August 5 1962 has only added to the myth and intrigue which surrounds her complex and fascinating life and with every passing year, the events of that hot and balmy August weekend in 1962 would appear to demand yet more theories and innuendo as the clamour for reasons to refute the official cause of death as ‘Probable Suicide’ remains undiminished.

Is it likely that we will ever know the truth of what happened to Marilyn Monroe?

And even if incontrovertible evidence were presented that she did indeed die by her own hand, would we believe it?

For is it possible to accept that a beautiful and talented woman took the conscious decision to end her life one lonely Saturday evening?

‘I could see from many feet away that Marilyn was no longer living…’

 The answer is ‘probably not’ when one considers the demand for the books which are published in ever increasing numbers with each passing year and which all purport to tell us ‘The Final Truth’.

Whether it was the tragic 1997 car accident of a Princess who perished for failing to wear a seat belt or the jealous rage of a successful and affable O.J. Simpson leading him to butcher two innocent people on a June evening in 1994; or indeed the probable suicide of the most famous film star of all time; it could be argued that the most logical explanation would appear to be the most absurd.

However; conspiracy theories, motives and explanations aside, all we can know for certain is that the nude body of Marilyn Monroe was discovered in a partially decorated bedroom of her home in Westwood in Los Angeles 54 years ago on this day.

‘There she was, laying face down on the bed, bare shoulders exposed…’

And it was the idea of this ‘death scene’ which captured my imagination for the design of one of my more controversial pieces and as Marilyn had died in the house she had bought only months before with a tiled doorstep bearing the Latin inscription for ‘My journey is completed’, ‘Cursum Perficio’ is the recreation of the demise of this icon in 12th scale and inspired by the photographic images and published material available to me.

‘And as I got closer, I could see the phone clutched fiercely in her hand..’

The ‘Marilyn’ figure is the creation of Jain from the Giddy Kipper and although she is internationally known for her ‘whimsical’ characters in miniature, several of have now moved in with the other fantastical folk over at the All Hallows Hamlet; Jain would probably be the first to argue that a ‘deceased’ Marilyn Monroe was very far from the definition of a whimsical character!

‘I suppose she was trying to make a phone call before she was overwhelmed. It was just so unbelievable, so simple and final and over.’ Ralph Greenson

However, having accepted my commission with some bemusement, Jain has created a shockingly poignant figure of some grace and contention which is entirely in keeping with the maelstrom of conspiracy which continues to swirl around the death of this lady, even after all of these years.

Adieu for now!

Sources Used:

Goddess The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe Anthony Summers (UK: Indigo 1985)