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Carolyne Roehm: The Fabric of Roses


Style icon and design maven Carolyne Roehm has been one of America’s leading tastemakers for over four decades. With a career spanning the fashion, gardening, entertaining, and publishing worlds, Carolyne has always sought beauty and inspiration in flowers.

I’ve come to realize that my belief that the rose is the quintessential expression of femininity is strongly braided with my connection to fashion.

In the flower I see taffeta, yards of swirling tulle, deep red velvet, a ballerina’s tutu, a bouffant gown. The rose’s connection to fabric –to a dress– reminds me that the flower has so many details that find an echo in the larger world.

So many forms draw upon the rose, in architectural ornamentation, jewelry design, the shapes of hairdos, and the decorations that adorn pastries and haute cuisine. The rose is inspiration. Beyond that, it brings to mind the body – if the rose represents love, it is because we see in it ourselves and one another, at our most sensual, exquisite, and tender. It’s that association with love, I think, that is key to my understanding.

At the end of June, I have masses of roses blooming in various gardens, and can create the big multicolored bouquets that I so much enjoy. In this nineteenth-century English transfer ware bowl, you’ll find the peppermint-striped Ferdinand Pichard; the variety of yellow roses Abraham Derby, Graham Thomas, and Golden Celebrations; the glorious pinks of Raubritter, David Austin’s Mary Rose, Constance Spry, Abraham Derby, Gertrude Jekyll; the bi-color hybrid tea Double Delight; the white roses Madame Hardy and classic Iceberg; and finally the rich red of Tuscany, Mr. Lincoln, and L/D Braithwaite. It’s a fragrant, lively mix of modern and old varieties.

Want more? Follow Carolyne on instagram @carolyneroehm, and at her website. Her book, Flowers, makes a stunning gift. Her latest book, At Home in the Garden, is out October 2015. All photos courtesy of Carolyne Roehm/Clarkson Potter. 

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