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Red, White and Bloom
Introducing the fifth annual American Flowers Week botanical couture collection

Photos by Tiffany Marie Buckley, Philip Casey, Jenny M. Diaz, Kristen Earley, Roxy Marcy, Joelle Martin, Missy Palacol, Chris Pinchbeck, Haley Swinth and Danielle Werner

Field-fresh and runway-ready, the American Flowers Week botanical couture collection features nine fashionable floral looks produced by Slow Flowers teams across the U.S. Together, these wearable floral garments represent a diverse story of originality and inventiveness. Each melds talents of growers and florists, elevating local and seasonal flowers in unexpected and beautiful ways.

In its fifth year, American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4) promotes domestic flowers and foliage in the marketplace, inspiring professionals and consumers alike. When flowers are seen as fashion, they ignite the imagination and stimulate new awareness of domestic floral agriculture and the art of floral design.

This year’s participants have transformed familiar and uncommon annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, grasses and herbs into everything from mod minis to luxurious gowns, continuing the American Flowers Week series that began with Susan McLeary’s iconic red-white-and-blue floral ‘fro in 2016. The collection has grown to 20 pieces, each of which portrays floral design as art rather than a commodity.

The Slow Flowers application process invited designer-farmer teams around the country to submit their best ideas for showcasing regional traditions, seasonal crops and distinct cultural and historic influences through the floral medium. The alluring results are found in the pages of Florists’ Review’s Slow Flowers Journal. When a model dons a garment fashioned from petals, fronds, buds and blades . . . we as viewers experience wonder and curiosity. These designs shine a light on the passionate individuals who have turned ideas into reality. From gardens to gowns. From cut flowers to couture. From seedlings to style.

Appreciate these artisans and learn from their creative process as they transform fields of blooms into a collection of American floral fashion ingenuity.

ALASKA
“The inspiration for our garment came from the floral looks of past seasons,” says Kim Herning of Northern Lights Peonies, based in Fairbanks, Alaska. “And since we are peony farmers, we knew we would be working with peony blooms in all colors and sizes. The style of the peony dress harkens back to women’s fashion in the 1700s and is also reminiscent of the ‘Barbie cakes’ my mother would make in the 1960s. We hope by combining our beautiful peonies with a lovely model in a fantasy setting we would create magic.”

Creative Credits
Design team: Kim Herning, Roxy Marcy and Tirzah Friesen
Venue and Flowers: Northern Lights Peonies, Fairbanks, Alaska, @northernlightspeonies
Lead Designer: Kim Herning, Northern Lights Peonies, Arctic Alaska Peonies @arcticalaskapeonies
Model and H/MU: Tirzah Friesen
Photography: Roxy Marcy with Alaska Alchemy @alaskaalchemy

WASHINGTON

“I’ve always been inspired by the American West,” explains floral designer Tammy Myers of First and Bloom, based in the Seattle area. “My mother is a quilter. My father loves American history. My grandfather was a descendant of the Karuk Tribe in Northern California. To me, a quilt is a beautiful symbol of true American history. Upon more research, I discovered these iconic patchwork designs actually originate from women during the Colonial period of the 1700s. Later, Native women, known for making beautiful blankets, also started using these same quilting techniques. Quilts are truly a labor of love that brings warmth and comfort to whomever they surround. I find flowers have a similar nature. They too, bring joy and comfort to whomever they are near.

“Authenticity was very important to me for this project. Our model, Anne Davidson, is of Native Athabaskan descent and the area where this scene was photographed at Laughing Goat Farm in Enumclaw, Wash., is an area rich in Native American history.”

Creative Credits
Designer:
Tammy Myers, First & Bloom, firstandbloom.com, @firstandbloom
Design Assistance: Amy Brown and Leila Jorden @leilajjorden
Flowers: Laughing Goat Flower Farm, Enumclaw, Wash., laughinggoatfarm.com, @laughinggoatflowerfarm
Additional Flowers: Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, seattlewholesalegrowersmarket, @seattlewholesalegrowersmarket
Venue: Laughing Goat Farm
Model: Anne Davidson, @amd98065
Hair and Makeup: Elizabeth White Artistry @elizabethwhiteartistry
Photography:
Missy Palacol Photography @missy.palacol

CALIFORNIA

“Our brave, boundary-pushing young woman is wearing 1960s Vogue attire created from gerbera daisies,” says artist and photographer Jenny M. Diaz. “The ’60s were such a pivotal decade for women. Women were demanding more inclusion in the workforce, equal pay and control of their personal rights.

“I chose the city of Fresno as my backdrop because many of the structures date back to the ’60s. The gerbera daisies are strong, not only in their appearance, but also how they create a pattern on the dress. Our gray background contrasting with a beautiful model in my bright gerbera dress made for a perfect combination.  We wanted to show how strong women can be — on the rooftop, looking out into the world, hanging over the edge, riding a skateboard — all while looking stunning. My hope is that when someone sees this look, they are inspired to push themselves further. I am a graphic designer who wanted to push myself to create this look from start to finish. Yes, I was absolutely terrified, but I stepped out of my comfort zones and jumped in head first!”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Jenny M. Diaz, jennymdiaz.com, @jennymdiaz
Flowers: Dramm + Echter, Encinitas, Calif., drammechter.com, @dramm_and_echter
Venue: Fresno, Calif.
Model: Kara Trukki @luckytrukki
Hair and Makeup: Sixx Valenzuela, @sixxvalenzuela
Photography: Jenny M. Diaz

MISSOURI

Andrea K. Grist conjures a playful mini-dress infused with the personality of woodland, meadow and prairie, featuring botanicals sourced from Little Green Garden. “I was inspired by the native plants and grasses that grow in and around the flower farms of Missouri and Kansas,” she says. “I wanted a very organic look that’s youthful for our model’s age and size. I call the look ‘Cowgirl meets Yule Sprite’ for its sense of both innocence and powerful confidence. Beth and Joel Fortin of Little Green Garden harvested all the ingredients from their farm, including flowers, grasses, pods and evergreens. The extensive grounds of our location include tall grass prairies and tree-lined horse trails, reflecting the flora of this region. On location, our photographer Tiffany Marie Buckley played with lighting to create a moody, mystical background, merging the initial concept with more fairytale qualities.”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Andrea K. Grist, Andrea K. Grist Floral Art, andreakgristfloralart.com, @andreakgristfloralart
Flowers: Little Green Garden LLC, Richmond, Missouri, littlegreengardenllc.com, @littlegreengardenkc
Venue: Sunset Trails Stables, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, sunsettrailsstables.com, @sunsettrailsstables
Model: Samantha Grist
Hair and Makeup: Andrea K. Grist
Photography: Tiffany Marie Buckley, Tiffany Marie Photography, tiffanybuckley.com, @tiffanymariephoto

MICHIGAN

Heather Grit of Caledonia, Mich.-based Glamour and Grit Floral highlights the winter beauty of Michigan, saying “as a designer, I have to be creative in the colder months and think outside the box to create a dress that doesn’t scream ‘Christmas.'”

She harvested trimmings from 17 types of evergreens growing at a Michigan tree farm, including spruces and firs. “I wanted to give our dress dimension and texture — and show how pretty Michigan can be when there is snow on the ground and the flowers are dormant.”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Heather Grit, Glamour and Grit Floral, glamourandgritfloral.com, @glamourandgrit
Plants and Greenery: Speyer Greenhouse, Byron Center, Mich., @speyergreenhouse; and Hart Tree Farm, Rockford, Mich., harttreefarm.net
Venue: Private location, Caledonia, Mich.
Model: Kailee Naber, @kaileenaber
Hair and Makeup: Tawwney Sayre, Makeup by Tawwney, @tawwney.jua
Photography: Joelle Martin, Lavender and Lace Photography LLC, lavenderandlacephotos.com, @lavenderandlacephotos

MAINE

Rayne Grace Hoke’s inspiration for the late-summer dress was two-fold. She envisioned a floral version of her family’s collection of heirloom crazy quilts and drew from the extensive flowers, greenery and herbs at Johnny’s Selected Seeds’ research farm in Albion, Maine.

When Rayne arrived at the 40-acre certified organic farm, she was mesmerized by the varieties available at the peak of the season.

“I let the palette of organic botanicals ‘speak’ to me, as their twists and swirls, colors and shapes influenced this dress design,” she says. “The setting and flowers lent themselves to the natural progression that allowed me to turn our model into a flower harvest goddess. I created a pattern with flowers to mimic fabric for the dress’s bodice. Grasses of all types created the garment’s skirt. The key to constructing this look was to make sure the undergarment we used was fitted and could support the weight of the flowers. This is when my skills in fashion design and sewing come in handy!”
She continues: “I hope my love for the stunning beauty of Maine comes through, as well as love for what I do as an artist.”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Rayne Grace Hoke, Flora’s Muse, Biddeford, Maine, florasmuse.com, @florasmuse
Design Assistant: Hillary Alger, Product Manager for Herbs and Flowers, Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Flowers and Foliage: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Winslow, Maine, johnnyseeds.com, @johnnys_seeds
Venue: Johnny’s Trial Gardens, Albion, Maine
Model: Mary Yarumian, @marybebythesea
Hair and Makeup: Mary Yarumian
Photography: Kristen Earley, Johnny’s Selected Seeds; Chris Pinchbeck, pinchbeckphoto.com

SOUTH CAROLINA

Co-designers Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms and Laura Mewbourn of Feast & Flora Farm viewed their botanical couture collaboration as an opportunity to highlight the unique heritage and culture of coastal South Carolina’s Gullah Geechee, a community descended from West African and Central African enslaved people. The women explain, “we were also inspired by the work of noted Southern painter Jonathan Green and spent a lot of time pouring over photos of his work, as well as photos of women in traditional Gullah dress.

“We wanted to focus on primary colors for the flowers — the reds, blues, yellows that so frequently appear in Mr. Green’s paintings — and we selected a location that reflects the culture and story of the Gullah Geechee people. This palette pops brilliantly against the greenery of the marsh location, as well as the Seashore Farmers’ Lodge No. 767, a fraternal common house built in 1915 by black farmers for their community.”

Flowers grown in local soil at Feast & Flora Farm and foraged on location compose a brillant floral garment for their model, Giovanni Richardson, “Queen Gigi Ma’at Ogechi,” Sea Island Gullah Chieftess and founding member of A Taste of Gullah. “As we created Queen Gigi’s dress, we listened to her stories, bearing witness to a beautiful, strong woman, living her life and honoring her heritage as a descendant of slaves. Through listening, understanding and facing the dark reality that is our history, and our present, we believe we can create a different future,” Reale and Mewbourn say.

This project was personal and meaningful to the creators, and they credit their model for her guidance and collaboration. “We saw this as an opportunity to highlight the Gullah Geechee community with the hope of challenging people to think of Charleston not just as a place of iconic landmarks frequented by tourists, but as a place whose farms, homes, and plantations were born on the backs of enslaved people, people whose descendants live here and to whom we owe a debt we will never be able to repay.”

Creative Credits:
Floral Designer: Toni Reale, Roadside Blooms, North Charleston, S.C., roadsideblooms.com, @roadsideblooms_shop
Farmer/Florist: Laura Mewbourn, Feast & Flora Farm, Meggett, S.C., feastandflorafarm.com, @feastandflora
Venue: Seashore Farmers’ Lodge No. 767, James Island, S.C., National Registry of Historic Places
Model: Giovanni Richardson, “Queen Gigi Ma’at Ogechi,” Sea Island Gullah Chieftess and founding member of A Taste of Gullah, tasteofgullah.com
Design Assistants: Kelsey Bacon, Joy Colby, Scott Woytowick
Photography: Philip Casey, philipcaseyphoto.com, @philipcaseyphoto

OREGON

Beth Syphers wanted to tell a story of a sassy, confident, modern-day young woman, and she framed her narrative around the late 1950s and early 1960s. “I also wanted this design to embrace women in all shapes and sizes and reflect their power,” she says. “Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co., a farm known for fabulous dried flowers, assisted me with this project. We decided to highlight the 1960s dried flower vibe. We loved showcasing a combination of dried and fresh flowers as a way to extend the ‘local’ season in our floral designs. To me, flowers in all stages of their lifecycle have beauty. I would love folks to look at this design and be confident about stepping away from following the crowd; to not be afraid of what people think of their art, but to be bold and unique.”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Beth Syphers, Crowley House Flower Farm, Rickreall, Oregon, chflowers.com, @crowleyhouse
Fresh and Dried Floral: Crowley House Flower Farm and Beth and Charles Little, Charles Little & Co., Eugene, Oregon, charleslittleandcompany.com, @charleslittleandco
Venue: McMinnville, Oregon
Models: Rilley Syphers and Remington Kuenzi
Hair and Makeup: Rilley Syphers, @rilley.h.s
Photography: Haley Swinth, haleyswinthphoto.com, @haleyswinth

FLORIDA

Eileen Tongson is a farmer-florist in the Orlando area who partnered with FernTrust, one of the nation’s largest sources of Florida-grown ferns and foliage. “My starting point for the design was a visit to FernTrust, where I was able to see up close all the foliage they grow,” she says. “All of the shades of green, not to mention the textures and shapes of foliage, were so inspiring! Many people still do not know that Central Florida is the cut foliage capital of the world. I wanted to create a design that highlights this amazing botanical product and encourage other designers to use it as more than just foliage in their floral arrangements.”

Eileen’s botanical gown and the fern-farm location are thoroughly integrated. “We want you to look at our story and immediately know its setting — the real, natural Florida. We were so fortunate that the most perfect oranges were still on the trees at FernTrust. Spanish moss was moving in the breeze. There were also majestic oak trees overhead and countless varieties of ferns below. What a dreamy, magical place!”

Creative Credits:
Designer: Eileen Tongson, FarmGal Flowers, Orlando, Florida, farmgalflowers.com, @farmgalflowers
Foliage: Jana Register, FernTrust, Seville, Florida, ferntrust.com, @ferntrustinc
Venue: FernTrust
Model: Isabel Tongson, @isabel.tongson
Hair: Katrina Elbo, J. Bauman Salon, shearkatrina.com, @shearkatrina
Makeup: Miki Walker, Make Me Up Miki, makemeupmiki.com, @mikilanii
Photography: Danielle Werner, Live Wonderful Photography, livewonderful.com, @livewonderful_

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