Why Does the World Need a Crop Top Made of Peonies?

Peony season is fleeting but that didn’t deter fashion designer Katerina Shukshina from crafting a top made from the blooms.

Through a collaboration with the gifting marketplace Flowwow, she — fittingly — created a crop top using the classic Sarah Bernhardt peony — large double flowers in pastel pink that was introduced in 1906 — for decoration. The choice is meant to waft of love, affection and tenderness. More a work of art than a typical throw-on basic, the creation is a one-off and is not destined for the sales floor or everyday wear. That being what it is, the striking end result looks like an idea that bridal designers could delve into with handmade blooms.

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Time was at a premium too for Shukshina, since peonies only bloom once a year. The peak season for peonies stems between mid-May and part of June.

Needless to say, her view of sustainability is next level. Creating such a fragile piece with real peonies meant that the designer had to do a test-run first with a mock-up made of artificial flowers. Although she has worked with a variety of natural materials, plants and flowers, this project was a first given the number of peonies that were required. Shukshina said, “I wasn’t completely sure if the top’s design would hold up. The test version with artificial flowers really helped. The top turned out gorgeous.”

Doing double duty, the designer also modeled her creation. Modeling her creation for promotional photos made it difficult to correct any minuscule inaccuracies in the bow-shaped bouquet. Given those circumstances, Shukshina said she would have liked to have been able to clone herself.

Pinpointing how and why she decided the world needed a peony top was not obvious, since her ideas spring from spontaneity. As someone who rarely plans her creations in advance, Shukshina specializes in blending fashion and nature. She said, “For instance, while harvesting cabbage, I got the idea for a cabbage umbrella. [There’s also a cabbage coat and handbag.] And while eating mandarins, I thought about making a mandarin jacket. Right now, I’m surrounded by a lot of dandelions, and I’d like to try making something interesting, soft, and cozy out of them — maybe a piece of furniture. Expecting something from me in the future is even a surprise to me.”

Jonathan Anderson’s grass-sprouting coat for Loewe.

The ground-grown concept is one that Loewe’s Jonathan Anderson can appreciate. When the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute debuted its “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” exhibition earlier this month, a Loewe coat made with real grass was in the mix. It later had to be swapped out for an artificial grass version, since the grass is only greener on the other side for so long.

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