Erdem Resort Collection 2023 | vogue

In 1952, Constance Spry was ordered to prepare the flowers for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In a blossoming of historic serendipity for Erdem Moralioglu, England’s most influential society florist had her shop at 64 South Audley Street, six doors down from her store at number 70. It was inspiration on a plate – and just in time for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Erdem is as beloved for its own flowers as it is for cultivating its stories around the lives of surprising and neglected women of the past. Constance Spry is one of them, in buckets. In the 1950s, she drove British housewives crazy for her classes in abstract flower arranging at home (a very English combination of vegetable garden improvisation and Ikebana). She was also a company caterer. For the coronation, faced with feeding hundreds of dignitaries after the service, she invented coronation chicken (a cold dish made with mayonnaise, curry powder, almonds and dried apricots). The recipe has become a British national dish, but Constance Spry’s name has been more or less forgotten.

Erdem was breathtaking at all these timely Jubilee resonances while showing off his collection for the resort. “Constance Spry was pretty amazing,” he said, “designing Elizabeth’s coronation from her Flower Decoration shop, just across this block!” He was studying a bulletin board pasted with pictures of Connie and her girls’ school; black and white photos of her flower arrangements; and other photos of English couture from the 1950s. “All these badly printed black and white photos of her arrangements were taken in her studio, in the shop. She loved the still lifes of Dutch flowers,” he continued, pointing out the shaded prints and embroidery he got from them. “Constance was very practical, she was a gardener, but also whimsical. So there’s this back and forth between something very utilitarian and playing with this kind of ridiculous couture. It’s almost like her imaginary wardrobe for the kind of clients she worked for.

Constance herself was a substantial woman in a tweed suit who seems to have been an unlikely social butterfly. “She was frumpy, but she had this incredible imagination.” In the 1930s, it was in great demand in fashion. It was Connie who designed Wallis Simpson’s wedding celebrations to Edward VIII at their home in France. She was also gay, having a long relationship with the young artist Gluck, who cut an elegant figure about London in impeccable masculine tailoring and became famous for his paintings of stylized deco flowers of works by Constance.