Flower garlands: Head accessory tops off fashion trends at special events

Women in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, wear flower garlands.
PHOTO: Japan News/ANN

The ancient custom of wearing flower garlands is making a fashion comeback among young women at concerts, festivals and other events. When an idol group performed at the Tokyo Dome in Bunkyo Ward in mid-June, many teens and twentysomethings in the audience could be seen putting the ornament on their heads.

Flower garlands date back to ancient Greece, according to For Wedding, a website operated by Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo that offers information for planning nuptials. Back then, flowers and other plants were twined to make crowns that were traditionally worn at wedding ceremonies and on other festive occasions.

An employee of For Wedding explained that the custom of wearing garlands has been carried on as modern accessories for brides, saying, "In contemporary wedding ceremonies, red roses are used to symbolize eternal love and other types of flowers are chosen for their association with happiness."

Accessory store Osewaya Harajuku outlet in Tokyo began selling garlands about a year ago. A display featuring about 10 different styles of floral crowns occupies the most prominent location in the store. The garlands contain artificial flowers in such varieties as sunflowers and roses.

"Lots of customers buy them because wearing one can lift your spirits when you go to a theme park or a concert," store publicist Yohei Sasao said.

Priced at about ¥1,500 (S$16.56), garlands are seen as a fun accessory. The recent trend is believed to have started after it was suggested on social media that garlands "instantly make the wearer look cute."

Many garland wearers say they took up the new look this year. They also said they like wearing the same accessories as their friends when they go out together.

Dressing primarily in white can accentuate the bright colors of the floral crown. The accessory complements a wide range of hairstyles, from loose, flowing locks to braids.

An 18-year-old female university student coordinated a black T-shirt and a long, black skirt with a black garland. "I'm going for an all-black look, so I spray-painted a white garland to turn it black," she said.

"Japanese women don't mind expending energy doing their hair," a 27-year-old Italian woman wearing a purple garland said, smiling. "They're so skillful in making them look so feminine. I'm trying to emulate them."

During this season of outdoor music festivals and fireworks displays, you can expect to see plenty of women wearing flower garlands in the crowds.

Innovative eco design

A design collective called ch:farm is making sure that real flowers don't go to waste. They travel to flower growers to collect specimens that are considered unsuitable for sale and would otherwise be thrown away.

The group comprises about 10 floral designers and flower shop clerks in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The project was conceived in the summer of 2013. Manna, a 40-year-old floral designer and group member living in Saitama Prefecture, visited Yurihonjo, Akita Prefecture, where the autumn bellflower is famously raised as a crop.

Local farmer Makiko Sato, 59, told her that her crop of autumn bellflowers needed to be thinned out and disposed of. Sato asked Manna if she could put them to good use.

Manna successfully transformed them into elegant earrings and brooches. Manna adopted a process of trial and error, putting the flowers in a drying agent for about two weeks to slowly dehydrate them. She then coated these flowers with resin.

"I'm happy to see that my flowers are being given a new life as accessories and that their natural hues are being used," Sato said.

"I hope our work helps support flower growers," Manna said.

The design collective also makes accessories using roses and fallen cherry petals with the aid of farmers in Tochigi Prefecture and elsewhere.

The group's products are sold at variety shops in Asakusa, Tokyo; Yokohama; and Kansai Airport for ¥4,000 to ¥5,000 each. Part of the proceeds go to the flower growers who provide the materials.