Growing up I had a flower press made from wood and lasagne-like layers of green cardboard and waxed paper. Week by week, as the fresh colourful buds inside got flatter, you’d tighten the butterfly screws – one at each corner – and then leave time to do its work. The results were gardens of disconnected stems that you’d gently pry free with tweezers, paper thin, dried and desaturated. It’s a wonder I ever had the patience.
The thing about a flower press is that it’s no longer about a clover forgotten between the yellowed pages of an old book: the flower press formalises this haphazard process into something deliberate and scientific. And if you take it to a Victorian level of hobbyism you can then use those pressed flowers to create art.
On close inspection of the makeup artistry in this shoot by Vivienne Mok, model Juliette hasn’t been adorned with face paint. The creeping vines that extend further and further from her cheek to across her forehead are an arrangement of tiny pressed flowers. She’s a living canvas for those fragile, time-frozen botanical forms.
It’s not the scientific side of pressing flowers, not a book of botanical specimens mounted and labelled in Latin. It’s art that’s just one part of Juliette’s transformation from human to anthropomorphic flora: her wide-eyed look, her dresses trumpeting out like petals, her clutching at roses as if they’re part of her, everything about her is flower-like.
Charlotte Mailhe was the hair and makeup artist for the shoot, while Vivienne Mok photographed and also styled the feminine looks. Admire both the uncompromising femininity and the flower-art by visiting the gallery. And then go dig up your childhood flower press, if you had one.