Giles Deacon is a British couture designer and illustrator whose theatrical designs combine a gothic sensibility with contemporary structures. For Summer 22, we worked with Giles to design a heraldic motif and series of illustrations that would respond to the season’s fragrance and its ingredients.
Giles’ fashion is featured in the permanent collections at the V&A, London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; he has been awarded British Designer of the Year. As a costume designer he has worked with the New York City Ballet, Lionsgate and Marvel.
In responding to Summer 22, Giles Deacon took inspiration from the organic forms of the fragrance’s ingredients, particularly kumquat and geranium. He created a series of illustrations that reflect the wildness of the fragrance, using walnut ink to paint in organic, free-flowing shapes inspired by the form of rose geranium leaves.
Giles then began to think about the art of blazoning in heraldry - describing a whole through each of its parts - and how this relates to perfumery, which is a blend of distinct ingredients. He created a crest for Ffern, using the forms of the kumquat and the rose as inspiration. The result is a playful riff on the heraldic emblem, both delightful and mysterious.
This season, we have produced a very limited number of Giles Deacon giclée prints exclusively available to ledger members. There are four variations, each 6*8 inches. To learn more please send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blazon comes from the French word ‘blason’; this means shield or coat of arms, but it also refers to the description of a coat of arms. The two things are, in many ways, interchangeable. The coat of arms has always been something to be read - and in order to make it legible and reproducible, there is an old and complex heraldic language that is as important a part of heraldry as the symbols themselves. Each symbol has a precise linguistic counterpart. For example, a lion rampant argent describes a silver (argent) lion standing on its hind legs (rampant).
It’s not known where exactly heraldic symbology came from, but it is common to see mythical and exotic creatures, weapons and religious emblems. Some blazons feature puns (like spears for Shakespeare), while others may carry allusions that are entirely lost to us. Though first used as an identifier on the field of battle by a limited number of families, thus rewarding simple imagery and colours, coats of arms have become increasingly complex as families have intermarried and more have been created.
There is a lovely playfulness in heraldic imagery, despite its serious reputation, which in Giles’ design is brought to the fore. A central ‘F’ for Ffern is ornamented with curlicules and free-flowing organic forms - gesturing both to historic penmanship and to the natural inspiration behind this blazon. The shield itself is outlined with budding rose tendrils and the F grows from a root system at the shield’s base. Kumquats are drawn in two quarters of the shield and their shape is echoed at the tips of the F’s branches. The effect is one of connection, Summer 22’s ingredients twining together to create a romantic and wild visual - one we hope is realised in the scent of the fragrance itself.
Giles is the eighth artist to work with us on the Ffern Artists series. You can read about the others here.