In the Poppy Field

Buried in the earth for as many as 80 years, the little poppy seed can begin to grow with the touch of sunshine. What was once dormant is suddenly brought to life as the soil gets disturbed and the sun is given access to the seeds.

"Wild Poppies Near Argenteuil" by Claude Monet, 1875 

This amazing phenomenon took place during World War I across the countryside of Europe as troops marched, dug trenches and tore up the soil with bullets and bombs. The harsh activities of war, like those in the famous Flanders Fields, stood in stark contrast to the delicate beauty of the poppies dotting the landscape. Because of the epic war time blooming, the flower is often used a symbol of war and remembrance. 

The flower did not go without symbolism prior to the 20th century war associations. They have also been used as a symbol of sleep and death because the opium in the flower can act as a sedative. The Greeks and Romans even used the poppy as an offering to the dead because of the eternal sleep the flower could offer.

Artists like Van Gogh and Georgia O’Keefe immortalized the poppy in paintings dating back to the late 19th century and early 20th centuries. O'Keefe's "Oriental Poppies" shown above from 1928 illustrates the vibrancy and delicacy of the petals, while Van Gogh's depiction showcases the ornamental nature of the blooms in a vase. 
"Poppy Flowers" by Vincent Van Gogh, 1887
The Fendi Fall 2017 couture runway bloomed with the classic red corn poppy, as well as shades of blue, yellow, black, white and beige. 

The rainbow of poppies adorned the dresses, adding color and texture. The embroidery and embellishments removed any need for jewelry since they served as an automatic form of adornment.     

"Vase with Red Poppies" by Vincent Van Gogh, 1886
The beauty of the flowers on these runway designs is undeniable. The mix of colors even lends itself to a carefree mood. 

But with the poppy’s long history as an opiate and symbol of war and death, there is a perhaps an underlying message to these designs. As turmoil and threats of war continually pop up in global headlines, now may be the opportune time to pay homage to historic war losses by using poppies. 
Though beautiful, the blooms are laced with a warning of eternal sleep that comes from the numbing power of its opiates...and from death. And so the blood red poppies give way to white, a symbol of peace and rest. 

Hidden among the delicate petals of these poppies comes the reminder of mankind's fragility, but also the promise of rest. In the confines of the dark soil and circumstances, just a dash of sunshine can bring a seed to life with the opportunity for new blooms and peace.   

Runway Photos: 
Poppy History: