Floral sunshades are, as we learn the latest innovation in flower fashion just now in Nice, where the ladies are using parasols composed entirely of natural flowers, so that their sunshades resemble nothing so much as gigantic bouquets stuck on sticks. The stalks of the flowers are woven together, so as to form a network of bloom, the inside being lined with silk. One parasol is made entirely of violets, with a bordering of jessamine; another of geraniums, white and red in rows, fringed with maiden-hair fern; another of pansies, and so on. When the flowers fade the parasol has to be made up again, generally at intervals of two days. We always thought our New York friends a little extravagant in their flower torture, nor could any one persuade us to admire the great massive crosses, anchors, wreaths and wedding- bells affected by some portions of American society: but even there they do not, I believe, expose their beautiful flowers on sunshades to wither and die. I hope that it is only some ladies, and those only a few, that degrade nature’s flower gifts in this way. A friend to whom I showed the above paragraph said she should as soon think of skewering a living dove or a lark in her bonnet as of abusing lovely flowers wholesale in the manner that I have just indicated.
The Clay Center [KS] Dispatch 31 July 1884: p. 2
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Hall Head-Gardener, Mr McKew, would have a word or two to say about the fashionable abuse of flowers. It pains his soul to supply even cut flowers for the table and he would, no doubt, call the floral parasol a shocking waste and a sin against floriculture .
Still, the showiness and ephemeral quality of the floral parasol made it a popular fad:
FLOWER BEDECKED PARASOLS.
The coming season’s sunshades are bewildering in floral effects. One is of violet-colored chiffon, with wreath and nosegays of artificial violets. Big bows of violet ribbon ornament its stick at top and handle, and the graceful ruffle around its edge is gay with silver spangles. A nosegay of violets nestles in the knot of the ribbon on the handle and the whole is delicately scented with violet sachet.
Another new floral parasol, although more severe in style, is even more chic. It is trimmed with orchids, one huge cluster hanging from the bow at the top and a smaller one at the handle. The sunshade itself is of heavy cream-tinted silk, with mother-of-pearl handle. All the parasols this year are noticeable for their elegance and showiness. Every detail is most costly, and, in many instances, most
Perishable, as the fluffy and flowery effects so greatly in vogue are not meant for wear and tear. The good old-fashioned plain parasol, lasting a whole season through, is completely obliterated by this crowd of fragile and efflorescent novelties.
The Abbeville [SC] Press and Banner 3 April 1895: p. 3
Mrs Daffodil does not see the appeal in the floral novelty, although there will always be those who will follow a fad merely for the extravagance of the thing. The floral parasol lacks the tidiness one likes to see in fashion accessories. This fashion writer made a very apt comparison:
Some of the floral parasols have a peculiar effect when carried closed. These look as if the owner had been cutting for herself a large posy and fixed it on a stick, in the style of a May day posy of long ago. The impression is still further carried out when a florally trimmed hat to match is worn—as is often the case. The Ottawa [IL] Free Trader 4 August 1888: p. 7
The floral parasol did, however, finally find its niche as a wedding decoration.
A Rose Parasol Instead of the Usual Bridal Bell.
June with its roses affords many tempting opportunities to the floral decorator. For weddings—and June is the favorite month for weddings—no prettier idea could be devised than that of substituting for the hackneyed wedding bell a floral parasol under which the bride and bridegroom may stand during the ceremony or at the reception. The roses and smilax are mounted on a skeleton parasol frame. Pink or white roses are suitable, the garden rose or the hothouse variety being adapted to the purpose.
The Richmond [IN] Palladium and Sun-Telegram 27 July 1911: p. 8
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.