New Uses for Orchids - Hair!

Looking for that one-of-a-kind head-turning hairdo for your next social function? Consider cut orchids en masse. That’s right. Pin as many orchid stems as possible into that bouffant.

The idea of over-the-top flora in hair is not entirely new. During the 1950’s, Harper’s Bazaar magazine featured the style on some of their covers. The flower crowns were a ‘fashion fantasy’ and designed to catch the reader’s attention. Orchid nurseries ran full page advertisements in trade journals advocating innovative uses of cut Cattleyas. One memorable image showed a jewelry-laden brunette model wrapped in a white fur coat with a cascade of four Cattleya blossoms spiraling down her curls. Gentlemen took note.  

A local Virginia Botanical Artist, Anne Blackwell Thompson, has taken this vintage art form to a new level by not only reviving the 60 year old practice of using orchids in hair, but doing so to the extreme. She also adds leaves from tropical plants such as Philodendron, Banana, and Bird of Paradise for special effect. 

Are these hair styles practical and could they catch on with the public? Probably not. But it’s fun to imagine.

The best suited epiphytes for such an endeavor would be Cattleyas, Cymbidiums, Dendrobiums, and Phalaenopsis which all have large colorful blooms and would hold up for a night on the town. The flower sprays should be clipped and soaked in water for a few hours prior to securing them with bobbing pins. When multiple genera are employed, complimentary colors are the most pleasing to the eye. Orchid petals bruise easily and should be handled with care.

Like the retro magazine covers, Ms. Thompson’s slant is also to grab the viewer. An orchid hobbyist for 20 years, her primary business is pressed flowers and plants. She preserves and mounts the blossoms of orchids using a technique she learned in Italy. These ‘botanical compositions’ become lovely additions to any home and, unlike living blooms, the pressed ones last forever.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - 16:30