Alex Brooks, Alexander Brooks, Floral Menswear, Floral Vest, Mary Grace Long, Mary Grace Long Photography, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, Riz Reyes, Rizaniño “Riz” Reyes, Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, Wearable flowers for men, Yessie Libby
Riz Reyes is a garden and floral designer whose creations have won gold medal and people’s choice awards at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, all achieved while he also worked as a horticulture manager at public and private landscapes in Seattle.
Riz considers Portland, Ore., floral designer Françoise Weeks one of his mentors, and he is influenced by the work of Belgian floral artist Daniel Ost and British designer Zite Elze, the artistic inspiration for this piece.
Asked to create a woodland-inspired menswear look for American Flowers Week 2017, Riz’s response was highly personal.
The whole concept of men and flowers is intriguing to me because it touches on my background and the journey I took to get into horticulture, floriculture, plants and flowers. For me, there was always that stigma of little boys and flowers not being a favored thing.
Because this shoot was scheduled for early January, Riz drew on product from California and Oregon, such as pincushions (Leucospermum) and Grevillea foliage, sourced through the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market from Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers.
“I especially like working with things that are textural. A lot of the materials and natural elements that I use and the range of colors that I like are inspired by the Pacific Northwest and its ferns, moss and lichen,” he says.
Riz began with the Market’s availability list to choose an array of small succulents such as Aeonium, Sempervivum and Echeveria; Phalaenopsis orchids; spray roses; hellebores; globe thistles (Echinops); Pieris japonica; the metallic blue fruit and buds of Viburnum tinus; sprays of Grevillea blossoms and G. ‘Ivanhoe’ foliage; Leucadendron foliage; the mosslike textures of the crested Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Cristata’) and Dianthus ‘Green Trick’; the fascinating marble vine (Diplocyclos palmatus); buds of larkspur (Delphinium hybrid); and the immature fruits of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera). He also foraged for lichen, small pods and ferns from nature.
Behind-the-scenes at our photo shoot with model Alexander Brooks, photographer Mary Grace Long, designer Riz Reyes and make-up artist Yessie Libby. Photographed, January 2017.
“I had never done anything of this magnitude,” he admits. Working with a mannequin torso was essential to give shape to the vest and a corresponding jacket as he added botanical elements. Riz first applied two coats of adhesive spray to the vest to get a sticky surface for attaching the textural “embroidery” of flowers, plants, foliages, pods and lichen.
At the same time, he used liquid floral adhesive to attach individual pieces, balancing shapes, colors and varieties, to create an overall pattern. The textilelike design is reminiscent of a Persian rug or antique tapestry in its depth and detail.
To Riz, it was important to collaborate with the model and photographer and to develop a level of trust with both.“Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be able to work in this dynamic. There is this profile of a guy being the giver of flowers. So for me, the grand takeaway from this experience – and hopefully, it will come true – is to dispel the assumption that men and flowers don’t exist together.”
Model: Alexander Brooks
Makeup: Yessie Libby, Yessie Makeup Artistry, Seattle, Wash.
Photography: Mary Grace Long, Mary Grace Long Photography, Seattle, Wash.
Location: Mary Grace Long Studio and Discovery Park, Seattle, Wash.
Originally published in FLORISTS’ REVIEW | JUNE 2017