A sunflower petal bodice flows into a flared skirt embellished with flower heads

Tú tienes mi corazón, designed by Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media

Design and Photography by Niesha Blancas, Fetching Social Media, @nieshamonay
Fresno, California

Slow Flowers Society’s social media manager Niesha Blancas is not a florist or a grower, but she is a fashionista, having graduated from California State University Fresno with a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising. Niesha brings both talent and heart to her floral fashion this year, her third contribution to American Flowers Week’s botanical couture collection.

The strapless full-length gown, an upcycled Jessica McClintock prom dress that Niesha thrifted for $2, features a bodice covered in sunflower petals that flows into a flared skirt embellished with flower heads — strawflowers, pincushion proteas, yarrows, sunflowers, and craspedia Billy balls. Pointed flames are outlined by deconstructed yarrow and yellow-orange sunflower petals. “This dress was easily 40 pounds,” Niesha laughed. Fortunately, her friend Irys Jazmin Flores was up for the modeling assignment.

Niesha’s inspiration was highly personal, as she revisited childhood memories of growing up in a small Fresno community called Calwa. “I lived there until I was in sixth grade. My late father was born and raised in Calwa; my grandma had her house there.” For the photography venue, Niesha chose the Calwa playground where she remembered climbing an iconic rocket ship play structure as a kid.

This year’s theme is an homage to my childhood and my love of Chicano culture, which my dad introduced me to while growing up. Calwa is populated by many Hispanic farm workers, and I wanted to give this place my love.

American Flowers Week 2023 Botanical Couture by Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media
American Flowers Week Botanical Couture design and photography by Niesha Blancas
American Flowers Week Botanical Couture design and photography by Niesha Blancas
Fetching Social Media Niesha Blancas Botanical Couture for American Flowers Week 2023

The love is symbolized by a Corazón (Heart), which Niesha displays as the Sacred Heart, created with red alstroemeria petals layered over a heart-shaped piece of chicken wire. Its “flames” are made with green acuba foliage, a botanical element that also has appeared in Niesha’s previous botanical couture looks. “I intended for my dress to bring life back into this dull community, and serve as the heart of this neighborhood that I love,” she explained. “It was important to use bright and colorful flowers, especially yellow ones to convey my concept.”

This stunning gown gains authenticity from Niesha’s styling, prop selection, and accessory choices. “The sacred heart reflects the Chicano heritage, but so does the lowrider car, which I knew I wanted for my photography.” She put out the call and a friend’s brother who is involved in California car culture helped her find and borrow “Purple Haze,” a dazzling magenta Cadillac, completely suited with gold-rimmed wheels and custom detailing. “I could not have envisioned a more perfect car for this photoshoot, especially when it comes down to the littlest details.”

Accessories are also a nod to her Chicano culture, from the model’s Ray Bans, the oversized bamboo hoops and gold jewelry, to the pair of Nike Cortez sneakers. “Before heading to our photoshoot location in Calwa, we stopped at the local corner market for some last-minute props. I brainstormed many different Mexican snacks and settled with two of my go-tos — a Mandarin Jarrito and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Once we finished with the photo shoot, we realized we had forgotten to incorporate them. But then my model started snacking on them, and I realized how truly perfect they were for my story.” Of course, as both designer and photographer, she captured that perfect moment on camera.

Niesha Blancas, Fetching Social Media, Fetching Social Media, @nieshamonay
CamFlor Inc., Watsonville, California, @camflorinc
MODEL: Irys Jazmin Flores, @irysjazmin
HAIR + MAKEUP: Irys Jazmin Flores
VENUE: Calwa Park, Fresno, California, calwarecreation.org
DESIGN ASSISTANCE: Ana Quinata, @anaquinata