The Design World's Favorite Florists Do Fashion Week
Though one notorious "fictional" editrix may have scoffed at the notion of florals for spring in a certain roman-à-clef turned movie, they're showing up
this fashion week in a big way—though not only on the clothing. During this
season's iteration of New York Fashion Week, many of the design world's favorite
florists have teamed up with fashion designers to create bountiful
installations, settings, and backdrops to the fashion on display—all while
challenging the notion that flora has to be delicate and dainty.
At Ulla Johnson, models walked a mirrored runway blooming with Saipua's botanical work. The collaboration was a natural growth from Ulla's friendship
with Saipua founder Sarah Ryhanen. "I have known Sarah for many years and have
been a longtime admirer of her aesthetic and vision," Johnson explains. "Her
florals have been an integral element in all of our fashion week outings as well
as in our retail store. This season we really pushed forward the dialogue of our
collaboration. I think we very much see eye to eye in that we both want the
florals to complement the storyline of the collection while simultaneously
adding a strong sculptural element. It is very interesting to play with florals
in a very nontraditional way, to use them in mass to create new volumes."
For Rhyanen, the show offered the opportunity to give what is usually a delicate medium a bit of an edge. "Most of the events we do at Saipua are
weddings, and there is the desire for a certain romance and softness there, an
ease," she explains. "Ulla's collections are always focused on a certain amount
of romance certainly, but this season especially we talked about bringing a bit
of a harder edge and more structure to the florals." The result was a dreamlike,
slightly surreal setting in which florals in strong, vertical groupings were
reflected and refracted—along with the models—on the mirrored ground.
Across town, on the rooftop of the Gramercy Park Hotel, guests sipped rosé on Friday night while models for Nicole Miller walked down a runway ringed in a
lush, jungle-like border of florals by Emily Thompson. "The set design was
inspired by the same ethos that guided the collection—a vintage safari," says
Miller. "We sought to bring that environment to life through these moments."
Thompson and her team used plume grasses, phragmites, sea oats, and other
"linear" florals to establish a base, then punctuated them with colorful Protea
and other African flowers. "We created sculptural, undulating waves, suggesting
the movement of the wind and of the beasts that wander Africa's landscape,"
Thompson explains. Indeed, surrounded by tall plants in dark, moody greens,
guests felt transported from Manhattan's concrete jungle to an altogether more
The myriad Instagrams from Jason Wu's show got a floral background courtesy of Putnam & Putnam. "We wanted to create an impact for all guests upon
walking into the space," explains Michael Putnam, who runs the studio with his
husband, Darroch. "We pulled inspiration from the prints in his collection and
from his new fragrance to create large, sculptural installations strategically
placed along the runway to create a backdrop for the models at all vantage
points." Housing the florals in oversize, concrete vessels gave them an edgier,
urban vibe, which offset the lush florals the Putnams selected. "Overall, the
effect was graphic, modern, and Spring/Summer forward," says Michael.
Meanwhile, off the runway, renowned British paint and wallcoverings purveyor Farrow & Ball is taking an unexpected route in promoting its latest
wallpaper collection: It's taking to the streets. During the year's high season
of street photography—New York Fashion Week—Farrow & Ball has partnered with
florist Lewis Miller Design to create large-scale (and highly Instagrammable)
street art installations that reflect the florals in the line. Beginning
yesterday, the wallpapers will be part of a series of "flower flashes"
throughout the city. "My flower flashes bring the wild and raw abundance of the
country to this gorgeous but grimy city in an unexpected and beautiful way,"
says Miller. It's a welcome respite from the mayhem that is Fashion Week.
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