A Woman to Know: Constance Spry

Open your minds to every form of beauty. — Constance Spry

(image via The Surprising Life of Constance Spry)


Constance invented the "single item in a vase" kind of flower arranging — seriously. *And* she popularized the wedding bouquet. In fact, most floral traditions today can be traced back to this early twentieth century artist, a former housewife who achieved notoriety for her war-era victory garden consulting. After writing several home ec books, Constance was invited to design the floral bouquets at multiple royal weddings and coronations and events. From there, she became famous for her avante-garde creations: fruits and vegetables displayed alongside burnt leaves, or sprigs of wild things mixed with cultivated roses and trellising vines.

In her private life, Constance was just as unconventional as her arrangements: she took up with several lesbian artists (while still married!) and bucked gender norms of the time. She set the template for domestic celebrity, writing multiple books and later opening an entire school of floral arranging. Soon high society women were educating themselves in botanical artistry as a marker of gentility, and designers today cite her work as inspiration for everything from interior design to pattern making. She had such beautiful advice for her students, still remembered by designers today: "Do what you please, follow your star, be original if you want to be and don't if you don't want to be. Just be natural and gay and lighthearted and pretty and simple and overflowing and general and baroque, and learn and learn and learn."

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