No shortage of tributes have been penned to the rose, that most romantic of all flowers. Their colour, their fragrance, the intricate folds of their petals – not to mention the dedication required for their cultivation – have all inspired lyrical prose. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry so beautifully reflected in The Little Prince, “It is the time you have spent on your rose that makes it so important.”
UK artist Zoe Bradley is well aware of the time required to coax a rose to life. She composes her tributes to the flower not in words but using paper, and each blossom – with its 32 individual petals – takes around 40 minutes to craft by hand.
At LUMIRA, we’re delighted to be partnering with Zoe on a very special event, held exclusively at Selfridges in London. On Saturday, February 9 between 1pm and 4pm, receive one of her exquisite handcrafted Everlasting Paper Roses, valued at £63, with every LUMIRA purchase over £69. We also invite you to take the opportunity to see the artist at work, as Zoe will handcraft roses on site.
Ahead of this very special Selfridges event, we spoke with Zoe – who has also collaborated with the likes of Alexander McQueen and Louis Vuitton – to find out more about her process.
You originally trained in fashion before moving to paper art. What is it that you enjoy most about working with paper?
My love of paper comes from a desire to find a material that is available in abundance and that can hold its form with dramatic effect. I discovered my love of working in paper while experimenting with hand-pleating during the making of a series of showpieces for Japanese fashion designer Michiko Koshino’s autumn/winter 2005 catwalk show. I work like a tailor just in paper – it involves lots of folding, cutting, curling and sometimes stitching.
Are you able to share details for one or two of the most noteworthy commissions you’ve had since starting your studio?
One of my favourite commissions was collaborating with Brazilian shoe brand Melissa, whereby I created a short film and gallery installation based upon a garden of exotic flowers. I worked with a vinyl wallpaper company and a photographer to bring my flower landscape to life – the paper flowers burst to life in a hypnotic film sequence. I enjoyed creating a total environment to engulf the spectator.
My fashion training as an apprentice with the late Alexander McQueen was a pivotal moment for me in my career. I created some of the key showpieces for his spring/summer 1999 ready- to-wear catwalk show, including the headline-grabbing doily-punched wood fan corset and skirts, as well as prosthetic legs carved from elm wood and worn by Aimee Mullins. It taught me that craftsmanship is key!
Do you have a favourite LUMIRA scent?
[LUMIRA founder and creative director] Almira kindly sent me the Persian Rose candle as a gift. I’m excited to light it and enjoy the rose scent, as I love roses.
When: Saturday, February 9, between 1–4pm
Where: Selfridges London, 400 Oxford Street London W1A 1AB
Gifts are limited, so be quick!
Is there any gift more personal than perfume, which is quite literally worn close to the heart? Selecting the right fragrance as a gift demonstrates care and insight into the tastes of your recipient, but it can also be fraught with worry – even for those with an intimate knowledge of what’s involved.
“To be totally honest, I have to work really hard to buy gifts that are actually for my giftee and not just what I personally love,” admits Anna Lavdaras, a stylist and the founder of lifestyle company Philé.
“It’s definitely tricky,” agrees Carly Rogers, the Communications & Media Manager at skincare brands Dermalogica and Murad. “Last time I bought a fragrance for my partner I spent almost an hour in the store trying to decide (the paradox of choice is real).”
To help refine the process in time for Valentine’s Day, we consulted some of our stylish friends, whose homes have featured on the LUMIRA Journal, for their best insights into how to buy the right fragrance for someone else.
Step 1: Do your research
To channel the olfactory taste of her recipient, Lavdaras picks up on subtle cues by paying attention to broad fragrance families. “I think a good starting point is working off what they already wear – whether it’s citrus, gourmand or oud – and finding something in that family of notes that is perhaps a little different or new.”
Jerico Tracy, curator and founder of Jerico Contemporary, offers similar advice: “Fragrances are so incredibly personal, so I think first and foremost you need to think about who you are buying for. Consider their tastes and preferences and select a scent accordingly.”
Rogers takes a more methodical approach. “I always try to make notes on my phone throughout the year if I hear someone mention a scent that they love. That, or I try to raid their current collection for a trend… It’s always so special when someone goes to the effort of making a selection for you.”
Step 2: Look for – and leave – clues
If subtle hints aren’t your forte, try asking direct questions or paying attention to more explicit requests. This tactic serves equally well in reverse, particularly if a certain fragrance has caught your eye.
And if the special someone in your life prefers their scent in candle form, our guide to choosing the the perfect candle as a gift may also be a useful place to start.
Step 3: Browse their Likes
When searching URL fails to yield any meaningful clues, consider consulting your giftee’s Instagram preferences. “It’s not uncommon today to first hear about a fragrance online or on social media, and people are far more likely to try a perfume they’ve discovered this way,” notes LUMIRA founder and creative director, Almira Armstrong. Knowing which accounts they follow can provide a useful entree to how to choose a perfume for someone else.
“The Tuscan Fig Perfume Oil has become my signature scent after an extended love affair with its candle counterpart for years,” says Lavdaras. “While I’m usually not a fan of sweet perfumes, this unique composition always gets noticed by strangers, and takes me back to summers spent in Tuscany. For bonus points: it comes without the usual nasty ingredients found in most perfumes so I don’t feel guilty reapplying it in copious amounts throughout the day.”
Tracy nominates the Paradisium signature EDP as her go-to scent for summer – “it’s so fresh and light” – while Rogers favours Arabian Oud Perfume Oil. “I’m obsessed with ouds, and they can be pretty difficult to find in Australia. This one is heaven – it’s super moody and instantly makes me feel like a better version of myself.”
Who wouldn’t want that come February 14 – or any other day of the year?
Written by Michelle Bateman