Visit a magical, botanical garden for an enchanting beauty inspired by fauna and flora
Enter the greenhouse and surrender to the earth and the humidity, or take your cue from the prettiest flora and fauna. For beauty this season has taken an Alice in Wonderland-like amble in a botanical garden, past oversized blooms and beyond the herbarium, into a magical world where new cosmetic technologies have cultivated products that dance to the tune of the light. Fluttering like technicoloured butterfly wings or lustrous peacock feathers, or glimmering like beetle jackets, shades shift almost imperceptibly to enliven the features and the skin.
And who better to lead you down the garden path than Aristotle? The Greek philosopher is said to have founded one of the first botanical gardens – a place where nature and science converge for the simultaneous purpose of fuelling academic study and fostering beauty.
'As the earliest botanists discovered, every colour in a garden – from resplendent red petals to the yellow-and-black stripes of bumble bees – has a reason, founded in the cycle of life. This sense of order gives way to the seeming disarray of wild gardens, creating a sense of spontaneous beauty,' says Annette Pursey, a head tutor at the Royal Horticultural Society.
So it's no wonder that for their SS14 catwalk collections, the world's greatest couturiers have taken a foray into florals. At Mulberry, the heavy scent of blooms hung in the air as the show unfolded amid an ivy-strewn ballroom. For Dior, Raf Simons planted his runway in a greenhouse enveloped in creeping wisteria and rambling roses, which he then used as inspiration for cosmetics that the modern beauty aesthete will surely be powerless to resist.
'Sweet-pea pinks and lilacs, pale rose yellows and translucent dragonfly blues meet in a modern beauty spectrum that's ethereal and shifts beneath the light,' says Andrew Gallimore, Dior's UK make-up ambassador. One of the season's most covetable collections, Dior's new range references the 18th century, with the exquisite 5 Couleurs Trianon Edition Pastel Fontanges and Pink Pompadour Palettes for cheeks and eyes bringing the petaline shades – buttercup, bluebell and rose – of Marie Antoinette's Versailles back to life.
'The natural world produces colours from seemingly transparent substances, producing shades that differ according to the angle from which they are seen,' says Caroline Nègre, Scientific Communication manager at Yves Saint Laurent. 'This interaction of light and matter is called photonics, a science that has helped us develop products that emit “multi-dimensional” colours, like those of beetle or dragonfly wings.'
Combine these optical illusions with 'time-release molecules' and, suddenly, you are plunged into a decadent new sensory experience. In YSL's imaginary garden, flowers float on a summer breeze to inspire the Rosy Blush Collector Palette, a heavenly pink shade shot through with gold and embossed with the veins of a petal, as if a botanist had been at work. Laura Mercier considered the 'season of rebirth' for her Spring Renaissance collection, featuring an Enlightenment Eye & Cheek Palette with colours that include the palest primrose yellow and perfect peony pink.
Lips won't get left out in the cold, either, thanks to Estée Lauder's new Pure Colour Envy Sculpting Lipstick in some 20 shades – from plant-pot terracotta nudes to poppy reds – which combine 'coded pigments' with molecules of moisturising hyaluronic acid that burst open gradually as time wears on. The colour hugs the curves of the lips, emphasising areas of light versus shadow in a shiny finish, as if dewdrops have settled on the surface.
For a more dramatic effect, intense insectile shades glimmer and glow upon the eyes, rekindling an image of the garden in icy-cool moonlight. Wallflowers, look away now: Giorgio Armani's Eyes To Killshadows in metallic Blue Beetle and Scarab Violetta refract infinitesimal variations in colour, like a thousand tiny prisms. Or make the secret garden your muse for the evening with the vivid green Sassy Moss Fluidline eyeliner or the dazzling yellow Lily-White pigment in MAC's A Fantasy of Flowers Collection.
If it gets too much, retreat to the safety of the flower border and make a nod to the botanical trend on your nails. For, as Gallimore says, 'Modern beauty products have the power to narrate a story through colour, no matter how vivid or how subtle.' So Illamasqua's Scarab nail varnish comes with all the shimmering ruby decadence of a rare beetle, and Butter London's Petrol Overcoat shade shifts between the blues and greens of peacock feathers.
Whether brave and bold, or sweet and surreptitious, pair your garden-glade shades with By Terry's Terrybly Densiliss Wrinkle Control Serum Foundation, an optical illusion in a bottle that blurs away lines and leaves the skin with the radiant dewiness of having spent the afternoon pottering away in the humidity of that greenhouse.
'Gardens are an eternal source of colour and texture that are renewed each season to give the impression of a clean slate, a fresh start and a new life chapter that often reflects how we feel emotionally,' says Pursey. After all, as the giant talking daisies and outsized tulips of the animated Alice in Wonderland sang, 'You can learn a lot of things from the flowers.'