Updated: Apr 8, 2019
I keep thinking that I know my favourite time of the year. But then the seasons change, and I’m brought up short by the beautiful textures, colours and spirit-lifting properties of each one. It’s well and truly autumn now, and there’s still a childlike part of me that wants to don bright red wellies and leap into piles of crunchy leaves. Autumn to me is the most sensual of all the seasons. It’s deep and dark and rich. It’s ripe fruit and fireworks and falling in love. I've wanted to create a styled shoot that celebrated autumn in all its decadent glory, and I knew just the place to do it…
Styled Shoot at Twyning Park – Perfect for Riverside Romance
Twyning Park is one of my favourite venues in the UK. Fabulous photographer Katrina Bartlam and I have worked here together on several occasions, and we could immediately picture the sort of rich, textural autumnal shoot we wanted in its grounds.
The Gloucestershire country house is light, bright and elegant, but it’s the location on the banks of the River Avon that got my heart beating faster for this shoot. The outside space at Twyning Park speaks of romance whatever the weather. Its five acres of land include sweeping lawns, a stunning rose garden and (my favourite) a wild meadow leading down to the river, flanked with ancient trees.
The river meadow was the main draw for this autumnal styled shoot, and Katrina and I wanted to make use of the season’s colours on the water as well as in the meadow.
When I’m designing anything, my heart always wants to start with flowers, and this autumnal styled shoot was no different. We knew we wanted an abundance of tumbling, sculptural flowers and foliage, so we enlisted the help of not one but two fabulously talented florists to help us bring our vision to life.
The team at Honeysuckle Flower Co made us some floral magic. Using a palette of deep reds, oranges, pale pinks and lots of sweeping branches and foliage, Christiane created a statement arch between the trees. It was accentuated with swags of sumptuous velvet in the deepest crimson, and looked like a gateway into another world, for our couple to walk through on their way down to the river.
There’s something unutterably romantic about stealing away together in a rowboat, across a silent and still river. For our autumnal styled shoot, Honeysuckle Flower Co took this picture of romance further, adorning the back of the boat with an abundant garland of flowers and leaves.
Staying Close to Nature
To set up our tables for dining, we opted for a clear paneled marquee on the lawns, to make the barrier between the outside and the inside as thin as possible. The weather was dry for this autumnal styled shoot, but skies were grey and cold, so it was important to instill as much warmth, comfort and sophistication into the styling as possible.
Charlotte from Flowers by Charlotte Elizabeth created a series of lush arrangements, and urns overflowing with flowers and berries in shades of ripe fruit – rich pinks, reds, burgundies and purples. I wanted to tablescape to be multisensory – to make sitting down to dine here a welcoming and tactile experience.
I draped the tables in wine-red velvet, and used dramatic taper candles to add that all-important glow. I chose cut glass goblets and textured plates from Vintage Gold China, and created a luxurious gin station in the corner to make sure our cocktails were aromatic and with just the right amount of bitterness.