If there’s one thing to be thankful for as summer comes to a close, it’s that women may once and for all stop wearing flowers in their hair as if they were Frida Kahlo. Whether grooving at Coachella, walking up Fifth Avenue, or down the aisle to their betrothed, this ridiculous trend that’s proliferated over the past year needs to wilt and wither away with the falling leaves. Really. It’s time to stop watering—ahem, wearing—those damn accessories.
My vehement dislike for the accoutrement stems back to 1982 when I was asked to wear pink roses in my hair to a family wedding. I was four and not at all amused by the request. I don’t recollect much about the whole scenario, and I’m sure I didn’t give much of a reason other than a good old fashioned tantrum, but fast forward 32 years, and my distaste for the trend continues. But now, I have an explanation: it looks dumb because it’s not real.
And I don’t mean the daisies and begonias aren’t real. They very well may be. But the crown itself (or headband or cluster of buds) screams disingenuous. You did not pick a few wildflowers from the lawn at Yasgur’s Farm and fashion them into a headpiece while listening to Richie Havens perform “Freedom.” No, you probably hired a florist or, worse, went to Zara or TopShop—one of the many chain shops that now tout faux-flower crowns for upwards of $50—and purchased a headdress, which you then artfully arranged on your well-coiffed head before skipping off for drinks at the Mondrian rooftop.
The flower crown is a prime example of trying way too hard to be someone you’re not. Like, say, Cersei Lannister or Sansa Stark. But let’s be honest here: this is not Kings Landing and you are not a character in Game of Thrones.
“Any time you wear something that’s living in fashion, you tend to walk a fine line,” says Robert Verdi, style expert and self-proclaimed “fashion superhero.” “You don’t want to look as if you were standing under a window and a flower pot fell on your head. It makes a girl look desperate for attention. I haven’t seen anybody pull it off with any level of success.”
Even Courtney Love—who, yes, wore a flower crown on the cover of Details magazine back in 1986 and is known for throwing a tantrum or twelve herself—came out as a Flower Crown Hater a few months ago on style.com. “Flower crowns are over,” she declared. “Fuck flower crowns. If I see one more fucking flower crown, I’m going to kick someone’s ass…I got thrown a flower crown from an audience member the other day, and I just looked at it and it was plastic flowers and I was like, ‘Nooo! God.’ …They’re done!”
See? She may not be the world’s biggest arbiter of fashion, but plastic equals fake equals unreal equals not cool.
Yet “cool” pop culture icons like Lana Del Rey continue to wear them in promo photos and indie rock groups like The Lumineers continue to croon “Be in my eyes, Be in my heart” while romanticizing about the time they saw “Flowers in Your Hair.” Beauty bible Allure magazine devoted four whole pages to the trend in their May issue, and Mr. Barney’s himself, creative ambassador Simon Doonan told me, “There's no right or wrong way to do a flower crown. Just cobble it together, plonk it on your head, and smile a lot. If you are allergic to bee stings then go fake.”
Nooooo, Simon. No!
What gives? Why now? It’s been 45 years since Woodstock!
Bess Wyrick, floral stylist and owner of Celadon & Celery, the floral firm and events company that created the $200 headpiece worn by artist Jeff Koons on the cover of a May 2013 issue of New York magazine, says it’s simple: “It’s a beautiful, feminine product to wear.”
A product? More like a living organism. On your head.
In fact, Wyrick, who takes at least an hour to create one piece, says they only last up to two days—at most. And that probably depends on how long the petals had already been lying on the cutting room floor. Wyrick and her team only craft crowns from “recycled” flowers, aka buds that have detached from their stems in the process of creating other arrangements.
To be fair, while I myself did not want to rock one as an actual flower girl, there is something to be said for the ethereal, fairytale look while floating down the aisle to your betrothed. That is, if you’re barefoot and the wedding is held outdoors. Again, authenticity is key.
Verdi agrees. “It’s not a Tuesday afternoon look,” he says. “These girls on the street wearing them with shorts and a tee shirt? No. But it does feel special occasion to me. And when it’s delicate and refined, it can be pretty.”
In other words, when it doesn’t attempt to swallow your naturally pretty and freckled face as it did to New York One traffic reporter Jamie Shupak who wore an oversized floral headdress to her wedding last February.
“Scale is important,” says Verdi. “The larger the flower, the harder it is to pull it off. If it’s going to be a crown, use smaller flowers. Then it makes sense.”
Take stylist and fashion blogger Jenny Greenstein of Your Soul Style. At her Palm Springs wedding to Dina in 2012, she wore a Cymbeline dress that looked more like a Grecian slip. she allowed her toes to mingle with blades of grass rather than squeezing them into Louboutin’s she’d never wear again, and her makeup wasn’t caked on like the icing of the evening’s dessert. In keeping with this laid-back, bohemian look, she capped it off with a ring of coral and pink tea roses with Italian Ruscus around her curly brown hair. The look was subtle, sweet and screamed “au natural”—even though she paid $75 for the topper.
“A flower crown more appropriately aligned with who I am and where we were,” says Greenstein. “The overall decor was boho-meets-modern-meets-nature and it made sense on all levels. I wanted to feel light, romantic and airy and I wanted to feel connected to the earth since we were celebrating life's most organic experience: love.”
At least she preaches what she practiced. (Or vice versa.)
Which brings me back to my point: If you’re an earthy darling whose all “free spirit” and “la-di-da” when it comes to life, fine. Let the flower crown represent you, or rather go on and represent the flower crown—preferably on a farm somewhere. And please, please for the love of Zeus (himself a floral crown wearer) use real flowers. In fact, go on and (gasp!) make your own for a special occasion—again, preferably on a farm somewhere.
But for the rest of us who take subways and cabs or even the occasional hit of pot while dancing to Arcade Fire in the desert, let’s remember that flowers look most natural in the ground (or, sure, in a Jonathan Adler vase) and you look most like yourself when you’re not trying so hard.