This year, we continue the inspiring Botanical Couture Collection, a series of wearable floral fashions, created with locally-harvested flowers and foliages by design teams around the U.S. For 2019, we have the largest collection to date — NINE Looks!
In the days leading up to the American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4), we want to highlight stories of the people, flowers, studios and farms behind these beautiful looks.
First up: Maine
Design Elements: An endless array of iconic, field-grown flowers at the Johnny’s Selected Seeds Research Farm, a 40-acre farm is located in Albion, Maine. At first glance, Johnny’s Farm looks like a typical market farm, with three greenhouses, a hoophouse, and orderly fields of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. But a closer inspection reveals its true nature as a place of study and evaluation. Labels mark the variety trials; staff members with clipboards make notes; and groups of employees from the nonfarming parts of the company participate in guided “crop walks” and “field forums” across the seasons to learn about varieties and methods being trialed.
Inspiration: Rayne Grace Hoke, Slow Flowers member and owner of Flora’s Muse in Biddeford, Maine, says she was inspired by the incredible variety of annuals, herbs, grasses and foliages. She incorporated many of these choices into a beautiful tapestry-like bodice and a flowing skirt of grasses and greens.
We asked Johnny’s flower and herb expert Hillary Alger a few questions about the project. Here’s our conversation:
Q: What was the starting point for the design?
A: Rayne was so wonderful and open to anything. In one of the planning phone calls, there was some mention of the warmth and glow of high-season annuals. That stuck in my mind and was the guiding concept in gathering materials for Rayne to work with. The final harvest list included a lot of apricot, gold, cream and coral blooms. It was so exciting to participate and imagine what the final piece would look like. I definitely went overboard harvesting a little too much!
Q: Can you describe the place where photography occurred?
A: The shoot took place in our flower trial fields, located on a high point of Johnny’s trials and research farm. The farm is very rural, bordered by woods and farm fields. It was an old dairy farm before becoming the primary location for Johnny’s Selected Seeds in the 1970s. It’s a quiet place at the end of the day when everyone has gone home. For the photography, we got an early start in order to catch some dreamy light.
Q: Can you describe the mood or sentiment of the location?
A: The concept and story we had in mind when setting up and styling the shoot was something of ‘Alice in Wonderland-meets-flower farmer.’ The story was that Mary, our model, was in her own flower field; she’s taken by and a bit intoxicated by the beauty of the moment. Responding to the experience, she has gathered all that her arms can carry. Maybe she made the dress . . . or maybe she just imagined it!
Q: What do you hope is the message for those who see these incredible images, the flowers and Rayne’s magical dress?
A: I hope this inspires others to explore the story of local and domestic farms, seasonal flowers and the farmers and designers who are working hard to make our world so beautiful.
Q: Anything else you want to mention about this project?
A: It was really fun to think about floral design, beyond the bouquet. We should all do that more often!
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