By Jill Brooke
Fleurs de Villes brought back their fab female icon show to The Shops at Hudson Yards with “FEMMES,” a 10-day immersive, floral show that continues to October 16th.
The installation with 10 ft tall jaw-dropping floral mannequins is free and open to the public from 12 pm to 5 pm – and I was one of the judges along with fashion designer Layana Aguilar and Jon Bresler, founder and president of Lafco candles.
Creating any of these installations requires days of work. Each flower is attached to a tube and delicately put into the mannequin so it lasts for the 10 days. Manipulating shape and considering colors as well as creating movement is all part of these talented florists’ challenge. Thousands of blooms are used for these creations to bring joy, merriment and awe to the public. There are also floral classes ranging from a kid-focused class to using dried flowers for arrangements.
It was very hard to choose among these artistic creations for “Most Realistic,” “Most Creative” and “Best In Show.”
We will wait to share the results until the end of the show since we also are asking our readers to vote on their favorite via Instagram @flowerpowerdaily_.
If you are in New York, this is such a fun way to spend an afternoon and be dazzled by these floral sculptures and interpretations of iconic women as it returns for another year.
The floral sculptures are inspired by the following trailblazers.
● Frida Kahlo – Possibly the most well-known female painter of modern times, Kahlo is famous for her ground-breaking self-portraits and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of her native Mexico.
Hactac Events by Denise A Grant created this installation. They used a nice melange of purple and red blooms to replicate the artist’s colorful wardrobe.
● Bella Abzug – Lawyer, social activist, and US Congresswoman from New York. She was an outspoken advocate of the Equal Rights Amendment and a leader in the women’s rights movement.
Central Florist used moss and protea for microphones and impressed through the detail on the clothing. This was a crowd-pleaser for sure. Jon Bresler noted how the floral design of the coat dress was constructed by seeds and leaves. Dendrobium orchids, roses, proteas and Trachelium greens were also used.
● Bette Midler – A film, TV, and Broadway actress, comedian, and singer. Midler was awarded a Kennedy Center Honors in 2021.
Ravens Hollow Guild showed how attention to detail matters and produces wonderful results. The dress perfectly looks like Bette Midler’s red and white ensemble using Red Freedom Rose, Sahara rose, amaranthus and celosia.
● Billie Holiday – An American Jazz Singer who grew up in Harlem. Nicknamed “Lady Day” she had an innovative influence on jazz and pop vocals, and was known for her incredible pitch control and improvisational skills.
Ora la Casa de Las Flores got big points for using pampas grass and a big pink protea to replicate a microphone. Just so charming. And using the white rose for her hair against the profusion of red roses on the dress was a nice pop and a needed one.
● Chita Rivera – Film, television, and theater actor, singer and dancer. Rivera originated the role of Anita in West Side Story on Broadway.
FDK Florals created this happy installation and judges noted how the uplifting flow of the skirt made you think of dancing.
● Edith Wharton – Considered the Grande Dame of American letters, Edith Wharton wrote 40 books in 40 years, including “The Age of Innocence,” for which she won a Pulitzer Prize for Literature, thus becoming the first woman to do so.
Created by Blooming New York inc, this was a charmer. Through the energy of the flowers, the spirit of Edith Wharton delighted and oozed confidence and flair. Flowers included calla lilies, chrysanthemums, carnations, and a variety of roses. The dahlias and zinnias on the base just were orbs of delight. The stock flowers in shades of peach and yellow were also a nice contrast to the red rosed dress.
● Eleanor Roosevelt – Diplomat, humanitarian, and first lady of the United States from 1933 – 1945, Roosevelt became chair of the UN’s Human Rights Commission and helped write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Created by Rachel Cho Floral Design, this was a favorite of all the judges for so many reasons. As Jon Bresler noted, “the transition of the colors in the skirt was very effective.” Cho told us that she started with orchid petal leaves and then used grasses and eucalyptus. The stole with the cute fox on it was made from pampas grasses. Oh, and a fun detail is that the rest of the orchid flower was used for the shoes. (See bottom photo). Judges also liked the base which had roses mixed with grasses creating what Bresler called “refined and rustic.”
● Fanny Brice – Fanny Brice was one of the greatest vaudeville stars of all time. Brice’s remarkable life was the subject of the musical “Funny Girl,” which is now back on Broadway, starring Lea Michele as Fanny Brice, at The August Wilson Theatre. “Funny Girl” producers are also a sponsor of the event.
Polycarp Flowers, who won the Best in Show prize last year, did an awesome job here. The use of carnations and roses was so well done. Notice the detail on the shoes and the flow of the dress. She used James Storie orchids, Pampas grass, Heart Rose and Craspedia. The playbill detail at the base was impressive and never did a publication look this good. Good choice as well to use purple as a contrast to all the red.
● Gloria Vanderbilt – While she became known early in life as the center of a widely publicized custody battle, she carved out her own place in history as an artist, author, and fashion designer.
Rosehip created this installation that had so many details. I loved the flip of Vanderbilt’s hair using aspidistra leaves sandwiched together with wire so Pola could create a “flip” in the hair. The coat was made with gomphrena balls that “were grown in my farm in Rockland County.” The shoes were made of peppercorns – cute right? And liked the design flourish on the dress with eucalyptus tips dyed white. The reason they chose big colorful delphiniums on base was that “Gloria was a force of nature” but the image was neutral so had to add the color there.
● Jennifer Lopez – Actor, singer, and dancer from the Bronx, Lopez is considered the most influential Hispanic entertainer in North America.
Juan Villaneuva of Villanueva Designs won a previous Best In Show for a Cyndi Lauper installation. The talented Villanueva, whose mother is a florist too in Texas, generously encourages his team to develop their own talents. This was the first attempt by Svetlana Bespalov to create her own sculpture with Juan’s supervision. The drape of the dress and the way the fresh live orchids were used as trim was very effective. Chinese evergreen leaf was the key ingredient to the dress and then layers of orchids. “It looked like a real dress,” says judge Layana Aguilar. All of the judges also appreciated Lopez’s earring which was intricate and beautiful.
● Lady Gaga – New York-born singer-songwriter and performance artist known for over-the-top fashion and performances, she has successfully crossed-over into acting, with her latest roles in the movies House of Gucci and A Star is Born.
Larkspur Botanicals showed how hydrangeas could be big, bouncy and glamorous. Judges appreciated the big eyelashes which were dramatic.
● Leontyne Price – an American soprano with a long association with the Metropolitan Opera, where she was the first African American to be a leading performer.
Starbright Floral Design’s installation was a sea of roses. Very impactful. Nice to see dahlias as well as orchids, amaranthus and celosia.
● Malala Yousafzai – A Pakistani activist for female education and human rights, Yousafzai is also the youngest person in the world to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Strawflowers and baby’s breath really combined to make such an impact with this design by Flowers by Special Arrangement. The color palette just flowed in a spectacular way. Other flowers used were Craspedia, statice and orchids.
● Serena Williams – Considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, the tennis champion announced her retirement in August 2022 – 23 years after her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 1999.
Alexis Denise Floral Design focused more on the dress than the tennis racket – which judges felt should have been more of a focal point. The tennis racket’s handle was covered with lavender ribbon. Among the flowers were larkspur, Liatris, lisianthus and statice for the purple-themed dress.
● Vera Wang – American fashion designer who started her own brand at age 40 and is now well known for her bridal gowns. Before that, she had worked at Vogue for 17 years and had been the youngest editor there when she was hired straight out of college.
WFM Floral & Design used anthuriums for the bodice that popped thanks to the pretty pink versions of this trending flower.
● Queen Elizabeth II – Elizabeth II was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until her death in 2022.
Fleurs NYC made a cape worthy of a queen. The judges also appreciated the jewelry made with small buds in lovely colors of pink and grey and the curve of her collar achieved through pampas grasses.
Let us know your favorite. While the Fleurs de Villes team produces these incredible shows worldwide with local floral artists, this New York show has become an annual fall event at Hudson Yards that thousands of people enjoy and look forward to. Furthermore, it shows once again how flowers are indeed a form of art.