BACK TO NATURE
Five designers showcase botanical couture in a collection celebrating the sixth annual American Flowers Week
Now, more than ever, florists have an important story to share with their community and customers. It’s all about connecting more deeply with the mindful floral consumer, ones asking how their purchases support sustainable values.
Adaptable and resilient floral entrepreneurs are returning to basics, especially during the uncertain time caused by stay-at-home and no-contact policies. They are pivoting to what’s “essential” and engaging with their customers more transparently than ever before.
It matters that we connect consumers with their flowers in new and thought-provoking ways. It matters a lot. How we communicate makes a difference between whether flowers are viewed as relevant and essential or whether they are dispensable and unnecessary.
In its sixth year, a social media campaign like American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4) is one important tool that returns the floral marketplace to its roots.
At its heart, American Flowers Week focuses on the origin of each beautiful stem, where it comes from and who is the grower behind that bloom. The campaign also shines a light on floral design, promoting domestic flowers and foliage as a desired product category, inspiring professionals and consumers alike with a new aesthetic connected to locality, seasonality and sustainability.
Our media partner Florists’ Review published the collection in its June 2020 issue, released to subscribers on May 25th. Designed by members of the Slow Flowers Society, the 2020 botanical couture collection for American Flowers Week presents cut flowers re-imagined as a wearable art. These floral fashions combine fantasy with reality, imagination with technique, inventiveness with grit. Flowers are fleeting, yet sensory and evocative, inviting us to view the natural world as a true art form. American Flowers Week captures imaginations and sparks curiosity. It is a true celebration of the artists who grow flowers and the artists who design with them.
Click here to read the online article. Let’s congratulate the five creatives — florists, farmer-florists and growers — for their beautiful and engaging take on America’s iconic blooms.
ALASKA Peony Princess
Kim Herning of Northern Lights Peonies, based in Fairbanks, Alaska, returns to share her second couture look expressing the unique character and beauty of the peonies she grows. “Creating the dress was like ‘play day’ for adults,” she says. “The kind of enthusiasm we all felt generated so much energy and laughter, second only to seeing my fields in bloom.” There is a fairy-tale quality to the styling and the setting that evokes an imaginary storyline of old.
FLORAL SOURCE: Northern Lights Peonies, @northernlightspeonies
Design: Kim Herning, Northern Lights Peonies
Models: Kendra Underwood and Andrea Reisdorf
Hair and Make-Up: Kendra Underwood and Andrea Reisdorf
Photography: Claire Granger and Kristina Mulready
HAWAII Orchid Opulence
In 2018, Alison Grace Higgins of Grace Flowers Hawaii in Honokaa, Hawaii, and her team created stunning male and female garments for American Flowers Week to highlight the vibrant diversity of Hawaii-grown flowers and foliages. For 2020, the designer chose a quieter botanical palette of all white petals. Her look is highly feminine, reflecting the deep attachment between Hawaii’s landscapes and orchid breeding and production. “We often use dendrobium orchids for lei-making but also for petal scatters instead of roses, because they are local,” Alison says. “I don’t know what I did wrong with the math, but this dress happened because I over-ordered for an event by tens of thousands of stems of dendrobium blossom heads”.
FLORAL SOURCE: ACK Flowers LLC, Papaikou, Hawaii
Design: Alison Higgins, Grace Flowers Hawaii, graceflowershawaii.com, @graceflowershawaii
Dress styling: Kamaehu Duldulao, Grace Flowers Hawaii
Dress construction: Alison Higgins and Jade Woolford, Grace Flowers Hawaii
Bouquet: Nicole Cordier Wahlquist, Grace Flowers Hawaii
Model: Jasmine Kume Amari
Makeup: Kali Rose
Venue: G.B. Hajim’s Farm, Birdsong
Photography: Sarah Anderson
MAINE Petal Patterns
The prolific trial gardens and flower fields of Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Albion, Maine, a location for an American Flowers Week look in 2019 have inspired a new guest designer for 2020. “Having the opportunity to host a floral fashion designer has been a true highlight for the JSS team,” says Hillary Alger, product manager for herbs and flowers. “To pause from the busy work of trials and catalog production to participate in something so out of the ordinary stretches our brains in really fun ways.”
Designer Michelle Rech of Electric Flora, based in Portland, is a studio florist known for her avant garde style and custom art pieces. She eagerly partnered with Johnny’s Seeds, where she felt like a “kid in a candy store,” thanks to the abundance of late-summer blooms being evaluated for future seasons’ seed catalogs. “I was literally in a daze of happiness for months after creating this dress,” she says.
“Michelle gets full credit for designing and constructing the dress,” Hillary continues. “Our team, including Joy Longfellow and photographer Kristen Earley, get to play as art directors, dreaming backdrops and props. We wanted to compliment Michelle’s vision of playful, bright and modern, while using the research farm as the setting.”
FLORAL SOURCE: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Flower trials
Design: Michelle Rech, Electric Flora, electricflora.net, @electricflora
Model: Kristina Alofaituli Hair: Kristina Alofaituli
Makeup: Michelle Rech
Photography: Kristen Earley, Johnny’s Selected Seeds
SOUTH DAKOTA A Prairie Gathering
A first for the American Flowers Week botanical couture series, with a new state and a new look: A prairie-inspired creation from Moníca Pugh of Floras & Bouquets LLC, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A farmer-florist, Moníca also teaches floral design through the local school district and she is a regular floral guest appearing on local television. “Flower farming is new to South Dakota,” Monica says. “I’m really hoping that (my participation in) American Flowers week will help get the word out about what’s happening with local flowers.”
FLORAL SOURCE: Floras & Bouquets LLC
Design: Moníca Pugh, Floras & Bouquets LLC, florasandbouquets.com, @florasandbouquets
Model: Echo Bettelyoun
Hair and Makeup: Echo Bettelyoun
Photography: Patty Solis Rivero
WASHINGTON Designer Dahlias
Sarah Pabody of Triple Wren Farms lives and breathes dahlias at the farm she operates with her husband Steve Pabody in the Northwest corner of Washington State. As a farmer-florist, she also runs Triple Wren Weddings, a wedding and event design studio. After seeing how popular the farm’s dahlia fields were with local photographers and their portrait clients, Sarah fantasized about what it would look like if the people having their photos taken wore dahlias rather than only standing among the flowers. Her idea took hold and now Sarah teaches Dahlia Dress Master Classes for designers and floral enthusiasts who want to create, wear and be photographed in dahlia couture (details at triplewrenfarms.com). Beyond fantasy, the garments are thoroughly alluring, but also accessible, prompting others to imagine themselves wearing a dahlia dress of her own.
FLORAL SOURCE: Triple Wren Farms, triplewrenfarms.com, @triplewrenfarms
Floral design: Sarah Pabody, Triple Wren Weddings
Model: Taylour Aarons
Hair and Makeup: Beauty by Elizabeth Marie
Photography: Katherine Buttrey
TRIO OF DAHLIA GOWNS
Models: Simcha Heiser, Aspen DeGolier and
Hair and Makeup: Beauty by Elizabeth Marie, Crowns
of Gold Styling, Kenna Balvanz, Brooklyn Matthysse
and Kennedy Lee
Photography: Ashley Hayes and Sarah Joy Fields
Model: Chloe Wren Pabody
Photography: Abigail Larsen
AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK 2020
Here’s how you can participate!
American Flowers Week takes place June 28-July 4 and you’re invited to join in the campaign! Here are some resources for you:
Download and post one or more Social Media Badges featuring the botanical couture you see here
Photograph and share your flowers — red, white & blue is recommended. Use the tag: #americanflowersweek when you post on IG, Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to see your American-grown flowers, fields, vases and tabletops.