When I began thinking about the content for this website, I decided the photos on it should express one of the fundamental ideas of The Wild Song—that we are part of Nature, and not separate from it—and that we are as dependent on the Earth as it is on us.
I wondered what I could wear for a photo shoot that would express that idea.
I googled “nature dress” and found some images of dresses made of flowers. Where could I find a dress like that? I couldn’t find anything on Etsy, so I called Charlotte Gabin, who has a beautiful flower shop at the end of my street. I explained the idea to her, and she recommended I contact Julian Tonnellier, another florist in the neighborhood.
Julian is a “meilleur ouvrier de France.” It’s a prized title bestowed on France’s best artisans, and the competition to obtain it is fierce. Julian won the title in 2011.
So off I went to Julian’s shop to ask him if he could make me a dress out of leaves and flowers. He said he could. He had made a dress out of flowers for the qualification round of the “meilleur ouvrier de France” competition and had made another out of stabilized rose petals. This would be his third “nature dress.”
The wonderful thing about Julian, is that he also knows how to sew! That came in very handy. I told him I had a skirt made out of tulle he could use as a base and I showed him a corset I had found online. Julian cut the corset and sewed the back of the corset to the tulle skirt. (He also cut the tulle skirt, which was originally much longer.) This was the first step:
Then Julian began gluing stabilized leaves to the corset:
Stabilized leaves are real leaves that have been preserved so that they don’t lose their shape or color. He also attached wires to the corset so he could add fresh flowers and berries to the dress the morning of the photo shoot.
The hot pink flowers at the top of the dress are stabilized hydrangeas, the pinkish furry leaves are stabilized stachys leaves. Julian also added fresh ferns, berries and pink peppercorns.
This is Julian the day of the photo shoot with the final dress:
As you can see, he is truly an artist.
I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect dress.