Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Butterflies Are Free!

Linda Evangelista communing with the butterflies.

A couple of months ago, I took a little “local adventure” - which by moi’s definition would be something within a 3-hour drive that promises to be so fabulous that I can’t stand not to see it. Of course, this is only local. I would go to the ends of the earth in a heartbeat, given the opportunity, to explore some thing or some place deemed wonderful.

Monarch butterflies in flight in Mexico-Image by Frans Lanting of Corbis.

Life magazine cover from 1907.

Blue Morpho butterflies.

And so it was, in November of 2009, that once and for all I made the trip to see the infamous Monarch butterflies at Pacific Grove near Carmel, California. Somehow I had imagined that seeing this miraculous spectacle of nature would take me to a higher consciousness in design (I may also feel this way about the swallows of Capistrano and all those salmon swimming upstream to spawn). It’s the miracle of Mother Nature – the greatest designer of them all, no? Alas, although I had triumphed in my quest to seek out the elusive butterfly en masse, this year’s spectacle was not as spectacular as promised – a mere 900 rather than the 9,000 seen in previous years. But it was absolutely monumental to think that, while gazing at these little creatures clinging together in “hives” among the tall Eucalyptus trees was the result the miracle of nature. There you go.

African butterflies whose wings operate in a similar way to LED lights.
Installation in the Dior Homme store in Paris.

Wood shavings made to look like butterflies. Via Paris Parfait. Image by Tara Bradford.
For many of us, just hearing the word butterfly instantly evokes an image of delicate beauty awash in exuberant color, either literally or figuratively. Be it through the medium of music, painting, or cuisine, the image of butterfly has been captured in fashion, jewelry, and interior design, to name a few.

Butterfly hat by Alexander McQueen.

Butterfly dress by Luly Yang.

The butterfly has adorned the clothing of the Queen of England and the Duchess of Windsor; after all, one variety is named “Monarch” – and why do you think that is? …because it is the King of the insect world - not by power, but by grace. Even though they are small creatures, they do phenomenal things. Just think that each autumn; thousands of these Monarch butterflies gather in southern Canada to migrate south, travelling thousands of miles just to overwinter in places such as Mexico, while others head for Cuba, Pacific Grove and Newark, California. Go figure.

Barbara Ashfield


DennyHollandStudio said...


I too am inspired by these winged creatures and I really like that butterfly dress. I would like to make a figurative painting of's almost mythological, certainly transcending.

Thanks again for dinner, we had a lovely time and enjoyed seeing you, David, Christian, and your home.

Wendy said...

Barb, i can't wait to share this with Caitlin, the aspiring fashion designer who will just love the hats and the magnificent dress - hope you saw the entire documentary called Life which featured the blue butterflies.

Claudia Juestel said...

I could never get tired of butterflies, in photos, in art, in fashion, in design, and most of all in nature. The sight of a single butterfly still makes my heart sing.

Thank you for the beautiful reminder!

Cristin // Simplified Bee said...

This is a lovely post. Love the image at Dior Paris.

Claudia sent me!