By Jill Brooke
Despite a floral supply shortage and a surge of wedding events, talented florists rallied to create spectacular jaw-dropping floral installations of couture-inspired designs at Hudson Yards.
Organized by Fleurs de Villes’ Tina Barkley and Karen Marshall, who create pop-up one-of-a-kind shows throughout the world, this show’s theme ROSÉ supports breast cancer research and all the artists interpreted this concept in their own innovative ways.
What fun it was to compare notes with esteemed judges such as wedding expert Darcy Miller, Vogue veteran Edward Barsamian, Hearst magazine. honcho Jane Francisco, breast cancer researcher Myra Bilowit and actress Batsheva Haart to decide the following categories. The Most Realistic. The Most Original. The Best in Show.
But before I share the winners, flower lovers, please know you can vote for the fan favorites. The show takes place for over ten days in New York City until October 17 and is definitely worth visiting. There are also floral tutorials and installations that are so Instagram friendly – so bring friends. Also please vote for YOUR favorites on Flower Power Daily’s Instagram.
Here now are the installations and what made each one so very special. Not only do these artists have to design and find thousands of flowers for their displays, but instead of paint and pigment, they are using branches and blooms to create art that Tina Barkley says, “spark joy.”
Daica Skrobala of PolyCarp Flowes has had quite a year creating installations for Macys, Philadelphia Flower Show and now winning for the Fleurs de Villes’ best in show.
Judges appreciated the bleached skeleton leaves she used for the bodice. “I handpainted them and it was hard to find the floral paint,” says Skrobala, who also is proud of having the majority of the mannequin “be made of fresh flowers.”
In fact part of her signature is that she doesn’t use many greens in her work but instead focuses on “an abundance of flowers in all colors.”
The montage of fall shades on the skeleton leaves had a beautiful wave of color as did the skirt full of hydrangeas, roses and carnations which purposefully went from dark to light, which represents, she says, the journey from breast cancer to survival.
Details that were noted include the mannequin’s “afro” which she says was inspired by Susan McLeary’s work. Using one larger tangerine orange rose as an emphasis added a pretty touch.
Carlo Bermudez of Floresta is well known to New York Times readers since his work is admired for his originality using vintage themes. Once again he didn’t disappoint.
Notice all the flowers literally shooting out of the mannequin’ss head with pampas grass, pink roses and dusty pink ruscus leaves.
“My vision was this represented all the beautiful ideas people think of to find cures for breast cancer,” he says. Another detail is how the mannequin’s scarf is the breast cancer symbol. The range of pink colors was so well composed as well.
And the back of the dress draped in a very seductive pretty way. It had glamour, drama and a uniqueness that was a crowd-pleaser.
The judges liked the ballerina created by Eka of Edelweiss Floral Atelier. It was the skirt that charmed the judges as this category sparked the most debate. The layering of vibrant happy roses in pink and white followed by dyed palm leaves and then white bunny tails jutting out truly resembled a tutu that any ballerina would want to wear. The headpiece with the soft pink headband was made with pampas grass piled with compact roses. It had a modern feel and many appreciated the authentic-looking ballet slippers. Another detail worth noting is the bracelet which was also made with cut bunny tails.
Considering this was a group decision, I also want to share who I thought were deserving of recognition.
Larkspur Botanical’s Lindsay Neff used skeleton leaves to create this beautiful butterfly motif on the dress. “It was inspired by Kendra Scott’s jewelry design,” says Neff, who comes from a family of landscapers and also provides floral work for Belvedere vodka.
The bodice was made of hydrangea leaves which is very difficult to apply. “It took three people gluing for three days,” says Neff. I was wowed by the dress skirt and how this talented team cleverly applied roses so strategically in a colorful mosaic on the cut pastel flower base that just oozed a happy, jaunty feel. Not covering the whole skirt but creating movement and beauty to complement the butterfly design was a good choice.
The headdress was also gorgeous and liked how she added billy buttons and hypericum berries in such an elegant design, mixing shades of yellow and pink.
Notice the shoes. How amazing were these – all the layers of flowers. Neff shared that she originally covered them with skeleton leaves but didn’t like the look. “I wanted more color and then added more flowers,” she says. “After three tries, it finally felt right.” Cinderella would want these shoes – and even this dress.
Rose Box which is known for its preserved flowers showed expanded talents with this installation where they also used a variety of fresh flowers. “We wanted to go out of our comfort zone,” admits designer Ann Castaldi. At their studio, they even named this mannequin “Olivia.” “We would talk to her like a real person and think of what she would want to wear,” adds designer and co-founder Dana Dadush.
Who wouldn’t swoon over this bag that this talented team made from spray-painted banksia and weaved leaves. Just beautiful. And notice the delicate necklace made from amaranth. Simple but lovely. Another detail that collectively added to the accessory award was using a flower as well for a ring.
Raven Hollow Guild made a dress that made me wish I had a fancy black-tie event to attend or a costume ball where I’d feel like Maria Antoinette. There is so much to love about this design and it was a favorite with the judges. First, the bodice made with ivory anthuriums took my breath away. So beautifully structured and then this team added magenta orchids as a belt followed by a bustling skirt made of celery colored hydrangeas and a strip of lavender orchids. Loved how this team also used tendrils of amaranths for the hairstyle.
Okay, check out these go-go boots. How cute. This installation by Flowers by Special Arrangement rocks it with a mini-skirt and a hip bucket hat trimmed in pink baby’s breath. Also liked the orchids being the bodice which felt plush as though wearing a cool jacket. But the real selling point were these pretty boots of weaved leaves that were so stylish that I could see wanting to wear them.
Michael Collin Decor gets my vote for using silvery-white leaves very effectively mixed with white hydrangeas. Also appreciated how he used amaranth for creating flapper-like pearls.
Juan Villanueva won last year’s best in show for his Cyndi Lauper installation. This year, he created a mannequin that is looking to the future “through the storm – learning, healing, growing. Now it is a new day.” Villanueva and his colleague Svetlana made the decision to have less not more flowers and focus on a warrior spirit – which means more dried flowers and botanicals. However, the bodice was sensational and inventive – with an ongoing light – and the eucalyptus leaves shimmered with hope.
I loved this dress by Yours Truly because it was sleek and elegant. They just used flowers for the bottom part of the skirt without overdoing it. Just draped so beautifully. Plus the headpiece was one of my favorites. Liked how they used moss for a bun-like effect with two pretty plump pink roses and then created a swirl of style with the strings of leaves. All great design should surprise. After making their elegant statement, the team then went over the top for the back of the dress, with a gorgeous train of roses in peach, tangerine, blush and lavender. Really well done.
Maybe because this was sponsored by Hendrick’s gin, doesn’t this dress have a club feel where you want to drink and seduce? As the husband and wife team of Tangni and Guztav of Ora Casa de las Flores explained, their vision was creating an Edwardian dress with dark roses representing love. After all, love helps you get through life’s challenges. Also Hendrick’execs s asks designers to incorporate red roses and cucumbers into the design since it’s in the gin. For the incredible bodice, Tangni used three different colored hydrangeas – beige, blue into green – along with amaranth for “detailing” of this sexy bustier. Asparagus fern was used to replicate lace. For the headdress, smoked bush gave it the sultry look along with the sprinkling of carnations and soldiago.
We are leaving this category open for our beloved flower lovers to make their choices. We are also including other installations that are wonderful as well. For example, we loved the use of eggplant and lime-colored roses in boo-kay’s installation – and the silver dusty miller colors in the bodice of Alexis Denise Floral Designs. Nice touch as well to scatter rose petals on the bottom of the pedestal. Fleurs de Villes will also have fan winners which we will share.
Also, look out for another story on the floral displays throughout Hudson Yards including this thematic design made by Damselfly Designs who created the Hamilton-inspired mannequins from last year. As I always say, even when stepped or kicked, flowers grow, trusting their inner beauty and resilience. This show proves that despite the pandemic, people want to embrace beauty and artistry. – and having a good time.
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD and floral editor for aspire design and home magazine
Photo Credit: Flower Power Daily