Evangelical florist and icon of pre-war femininity in review, Constance Spry was the inspiration for this W magazine shoot in November 2003.
Spry transformed populist ideas about decoration in the home and in doing so she established a unique philosophy of living that remains part of contemporary British style. She worked as head of South Hackney Day Continuation School in the East End of London where she taught working class women practical home-making skills such as cookery, managing a home budget and dress making, followed by flower arranging. Spry published a book of flower arranging and a new art form was born. Publishing made Constance Spry a household name.
Photography was a key part of how Spry established her signature aesthetic. Image-makers worked under her strict direction to create the pictures that illustrated Spry's books. She strove to present her floral arrangements in a style that was as perfect as possible, an appearance emphasised by the 'hyper-real', appearance of contemporary colour processes and reproduction techniques of the 30s and 40s such as carbro, dye transfer and Vivex. Spry's lasting philosophy was that income and background aside, the creation of beauty in the home was accessible, and most importantly, beneficial to all.
In a modern re-working of Spry's Modernist ideology and aesthetic, Nick Knight photographed the Spring/Summer 2004 fashions selected by stylist Jonathan Kaye for W Magazine, as stylist Simon Foxton invited leading florists to interpret the floral themes that characterise the collections. In a rolling 'eye view' text, SHOWstudio Editor in Chief Penny Martin considered the imagery created in relation to historical photography, current clothing and contemporary fashion image.