Valentine Parchment Silk Kimono
Limited edition silk twill kimono.
Handmade in Co. Antrim.
Antique buttons, circa 1850.
Length, bottom of collar to hemline (back): 121cm approx
Width, armpit to armpit (back): 63cm approx
May I bring you back to 19th century Dublin? Back to the Dublin of George the lion of the Merrion print, back to the Dublin of Bram Stoker, of Sheridan le Fanu, of Wilde and Yeats. A Dublin of elegant Georgian Squares, dimly lit cobble streets and glowing gaslights. The Dublin that the famous and lauded preacher Father John Spratt returned to from Rome, with a gift from Pope Gregory XVI. That gift had been placed in a simple wooden box, trimmed with silk ribbon and sealed with wax…some say it contains his heart, some say his bones, and others a vial of his blood. St Valentine, the patron saint of love (and beekeepers) was executed in Rome and buried there in the 3rd century.
Let’s journey further back, to around 270AD. Let’s journey across Europe, to Rome, which was under the rule of Emperor Claudius, Claudius the Cruel. Under his rule, Rome was involved in many bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army. Which he believed was due to Roman men’s attachment to their wives and families.
So Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When this was discovered, Claudius condemned him to death.
Legend has it that while in jail, St Valentine became friends with the jailer’s daughter and left a farewell note signed ‘From your Valentine’.
Back in Dublin, Father John returned to Whitefriar Street Church with the little box and its precious contents, a gift to Irish women and men. When Father Spratt died, so did interest in the relics and they were put into storage and lost over time, only to be rediscovered in the 1950s during renovation works. A shrine was built in the church to house the relics, where they remain now.
In this print I’ve been inspired by the very ornate details and colours of the Whitefriar Street Church and also the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, where a skull reputed to be that of St Valentine’s rests in a gold and glass cabinet on an altar, adorned with a floral crown. The bejewelled bee represents his patronage of beekeepers. Grá is the Irish word for Love. The background of the print is the same of that of the Merrion print, inspired as it is by the same time and place.. the colour of parchment.. dusty old pages discoloured with age, with a street map of old Dublin faded into the background. I chose the flowers and herbs in the floral crown for their symbolism. I don’t want this print to solely represent romantic love, but all aspects and types of love.. friendship, family and yourself.
Red Rose: the red rose has been associated with love and passion for thousands of years, in Greek and Roman mythology, roses are often linked to Aphrodite/ Venus, the goddess of love. During the Victorian era, public shows of affection were frowned upon and red roses were commonly used as messages of love.
Pink Peony: represent love at first sight, prosperity, good fortune, happiness, honour and compassion.
Rosemary: love and remembrance.
Daisy: love, harmony, soulmates.
Lilac: the Celts believed that lilac had magical powers due to its overpowering fragrance. It symbolises innocence, love and protection.
Lavender: devotion, acceptance and serenity.
Hydrangea: sincere emotions
Jasmine: Beauty, purity, love
Please note that due to the nature of silk and with the fabric being printed in small batches that colours can vary slightly, although we try our best to ensure continuity. Due to this and computer/ phone screen settings the colours can look a little different to above.