Orchids come in various colors, shapes and sizes- exactly as beauty. One of the oldest flowering families on earth and prized for their loveliness, they do not seem to serve any real purpose and yet have continued to thrive. Delicate yet resilient, exotic yet global, rare yet long-lasting, complex and beautiful- orchids symbolized virility in Ancient Greece, served as a primary ingredient in love potions in the Middle Ages, and in contemporary times are icons of sensuality and love.
There are over 30,000 different species yet all orchids share a similar anatomy- the word ‘orchid’ comes from the Greek word for testicles, ὄρχις (órkhis), due to the shape of its root. All orchids consist of two regular petals and a labellum (or lip); as well as three sepals, the outside covering of the flower bud, which protect the petals and open alongside them as they bloom. The male and female reproductive parts of the orchid are housed in the tubular column, a distinguishing characteristic of the family, found at the flower’s center. The bilateral symmetry—or mirror-image nature—of the flower makes orchids unique and easily distinguishable. If, as science suggests, facial symmetry is a prominent factor in how we judge physical attractiveness, then it is no wonder that orchids are regarded as the epitome of classic beauty.
Everyone from Tom Ford to Gucci Westman for Revlon has created orchid-inspired products – dark, aphrodisiac scents like Black Orchid and deep lip colors meant to stain an otherwise blank face. A violet mascara here, a blush rouge there. The subject of O’Keeffe’s ongoing fascination. They can be very self-reflective. Found in equatorial tropics (such as the Amazon), the Arctic Tundra and in between; orchids are highly adaptable. They have the ability to grow in the wild, on trees and rocks, or in a decorative, urban pot. Orchids can paint a face in infinite ways. They’re a metaphor for the highly personal flush of passion. What other flower can claim the same?