The Brief

by Penny Martin .

Evangelical florist and icon of pre-war femininity in flux, Constance Spry provided the inspiration for 'By Arrangement'.

27 November 2003 15:00hrs

Does the sight of models receiving bouquets in fashion show finalés put you in mind of amateur women gardeners? It does Jonathan Kaye, who upon seeing the glorious cyan-sprayed flowers in Maison Martin Margiela's uplifting Spring/Summer 2004 show, was sent reaching for his copy of The New Mauve, a literary tribute to Constance Spry.

Evangelical florist and icon of pre-war femininity in flux, Constance Spry provided the inspiration for 'By Arrangement', this first project to be broadcast from the new, live SHOWstudio site. Kaye showed images of Spry's flower arrangements to Nick Knight during 'pre-production' discussions for W magazine shoot, viewing their gently kitsch, home-spun aesthetic as a valuable trope with which to re-phrase the floral theme running throughout the Spring/Summer 2004 collections.

Today and for the next three days, Knight and Kaye photograph the clothes amid the most decorative, floral context imaginable. Set designer Michael Howells has constructed an environment reminiscent of a mid-twentieth century Women's Institute meeting hall-come Cecil Beaton-esque bower, into which stylist Simon Foxton has invited leading contemporary florists to do live flower-arranging demonstrations to contextualise the floral garments. In contrast, Knight's brief to his team is to strip the images down to the most spare of portraits, with subtle reference to the architecture of the mid-nineteenth century portrait studio in their composition. 

Witness Knight's visual economy and Kaye's restrained approach to glamour, counterpointed by Foxton's sophisticated horticultural excess via two rolling webcams that will capture the progress throughout the shoot. First up, it's Prada...