Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

I have been taking my time writing this post as it has been proving to be more complex than I thought. Originally it was a supposed go be a companion post to Gotta Photograph that hat! and to a future post focussing on head wraps and scarves. In many ways it still is; I just found the theme larger than anticipated, producing links and connections extending beyond photographs I’d taken of hair accessories that had caught my eye.

Even today as I write this I encountered an image in this week’s The Observer newspaper that I had made a mental note of before. It was of the Iranian woman Masih Alinejad, with her hair uncovered. Her adornment of choice is what appears be a white frangipani flower:

Like many people I love flowers. Just the other day I was in Regent’s Park photographing and inhaling the perfumes of the roses in the rose garden:

I also love seeing flowers, both real and artificial, adorning hair. Where did my penchant for this form of hair accessory come from? I looked in some old photographs I had of my parents and grandparents. No flowers in the hair on my father’s side of the family, but a few on my other’s side. My mother was a ballet dancer and here she is with her younger sister. The flowers add to the pretty femininity and natural grace of their identity as ballerinas:

Here’s another photograph of my mother’s aunt Malka Asher. She is accessorised with a floral tiara above her kiss curls. She has hooped earrings, a chunky gold choker and a dramatic flower print dress:

Some images of women with flowers in their hair that I have kept over the years;  a page from an Arabic language vocabulary text book I had in the mid 70s:

A still of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera just referenced with his hand to the side of her face. The image is a TV monitor shot I took in the late 80s or early 90s.

A photograph I took at a life drawing class run by Flesh and Bones featuring the model Carla Tofano embodying Frida Kahlo:

Another monitor shot, this time of young flamenco dancers on Spanish TV:

Over the years I’ve photographed signs and labels and other objects drawing on the imagery of a flamenco dancer or gitana:

Golborne Road juxtaposition market day- a 1950s style painting and Glamour Magazine:

Some cut out graffiti in Brick Lane:

A vintage olive tim in a Margate café:

Last week I attended a Spanish Festival, the Feria de Londres. A mother and her baby daughter caught my eye. The mother was a Flamenco dancer and they both had flowers in their hair. Here are a couple of shots of Jessica and her daughter Matlilda:

Here’s another family – three generations in red, Chalk Farm, London, 2011

Women’s March, London 2017:

Lolita fashion at the V&A, London 2012:

A couple of pictures of musician Davinia Baño from 2012:

Jade’s new tattoo, taken in 2007:

A brief history of myself with flowers in my hair:

The image below was probably from the mid 60s and predated my knowledge of the hippie movement by a couple of years. This was more of a nod to Dorothy Lamour and a Hollywood notion dressing up. with connotations of holidays, warm weather and possibly freedom from the imprisoning rigours of primary school term times, Having flowers in one’s hair was very different to wearing a hairband, ribbon or bow which were considered normal, sensible, everyday hair accessories. In the photograph below it is about dressing up and masquerade. This still of me as a Hula dancer taken from an old home movie:

The 80s – that’s me on the right:

In the mid 90s a group of salsa dancers were invited to perform on the Channel 4 morning show The Big Breakfast. We thought we were going to be cultural ambassadors performing Cuban choreography.The reality was a Carmen Miranda-like novelty appearance. I still have the placard we held up – that’s me on the left:

A self-portrait from 2005 – a bit Frida Kahlo:

A very airbrushed Photo Booth image from 2008:

Dressed for a summer gig with The London Lucumi Choir and having a quick dance at the Rueda at  the Park, Kensington Gardens. I do not recall the photographer’s name – let me know if you recognise your image so I can credit you!

Identifying with Carmen, Paris 2007:

Finally a recent portrait of me (2017) by young Carla. I like the fact that she has depicted me with a flower in my hair even though I wasn’t wearing one:


Also published on Medium.

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