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!
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
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
“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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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.
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.”
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
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
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
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.”
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_
For the fourth consecutive year, Slow Flowers will commission designer-flower farmer creative teams to transform popular, American-grown flowers and foliages into Couture Fashion Looks for American Flowers Week!
We’ve been working behind-the-scenes with a fabulous group of Slow FlowersMembers around the U.S. to envision the “collection” for 2019.
A few of the looks have already been produced and photographed; a few more photo sessions are on the calendar later this fall; and in warmer climates like Florida and California, looks will be designed and photographed over the winter months into early spring.
You’ll be the first to see the entire AFW 2019 Botanical Fashion Collection — we promise!
Being featured in Florists’ Review is one bonus for our participants and a wonderful change to promote local and seasonal botanicals AND your growing & design talents!
The series will first appear in the June 2019 issue of Florists’ Review, followed by many other platforms and channels. In fact, we’ll share American Flowers Week badges for you to download free and use in your own promotion and branding.
Until then, help thank, congratulate and celebrate our Designer Dream Teams:
Rayne Grace Hoke, with model and friend Mary Yarumian, on location at Johnny’s Seeds in Winslow Maine.
Rayne Grace Hoke of Florasmuse partnered with our very own sponsor, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, to create a stunning gown embellished with field-grown flowers, herbs and ornamental grains — harvested from Johnny’s famous trial gardens in Winslow, Maine.
Eileen Tongson of FarmGal Flowers, based in Orlando, is teaming up with Jana Register and the fern and foliage farmers from FernTrust in Seville to interpret a glam-greenery look.
Our very own Jenny M. Diaz, the artist and graphic designer who’s responsible for all of the American Flowers Week branding, is bringing her fashionista vibe to a botanical couture look using flowers from Dramm & Echter Farm.
Beth Syphers (left) and Bethany Little (right)
Beth Syphers of Crowley House and Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co., two farmer-florists and good friends are collaborating on a sassy 1950s-60s floral ensemble!
Heather Grit of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Heather Grit of Glamour and Grit Floral is pulling together a creative team to produce a winter wonderland look ~ so Michigan, right?! Her theme: locally-grown ferns and greens.
Laura Mewbourn (left) and Toni Reale (right, with Debra Prinzing)
Two talents who are 100% committed to locally-grown flowers are teaming up for an uniquely Southern-inspired project. Laura Mewbourn of Feast & Flora Farm, a farmer-florist, and floral designer Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms envision a botanical look that reflects and respects the history of their region.
MORE TO COME . . . It’s no surprise that we’ve had more submissions for participants (floral designers and flower farmers) who really, really, want to participate in the 2019 Floral Couture Collection. And with so many talented creatives, we’re finding it super hard to say “no,” so stay tuned for more announcements!
P.S., EVERYONE is invited to conjure their own American Flowers Week botanical couture wearable, because we hope to flood social media with #americanflowersweek goodness come June 28-July 4! Let your imagination go wild!