10 Techniques for Horti-Couture from Art in Bloom

If you’re into eco-friendly fashion and dreaming of something fun to wear this summer, look no further than your own garden or flower cooler. That’s where a team of southern floral fashionistas found design inspiration for “Horti-Couture: Floral Fashions by Tahiti” at the Third Annual Art in Bloom March 30-April 2 at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. These innovative designers presented avant-garde clothing made from natural materials in a runway show before a packed audience. As the commentator for the runway show, I had the pleasure of spending prep time in the workroom with designers, discussing the design techniques and products they were using. I then shared these tips from stage as models presented the collection. You’ll find these same tips, listed below, useful in the flower shop as well.

Art in Bloom

Inspired by the French Polynesian Islands, the horti-couture event featured destination wedding attire with a traditional Tahitian flair. These artisanal looks shared on the Art in Bloom stage took the idea of ‘wearing natural fibers’ up a notch. According to event chairperson Terry Godfrey AIFD, Art in Bloom is the museum’s largest fundraiser with approximately 13,000 people in attendance this year. For four days, floral art presentations, workshops and interpretative pedestal art filled the museum with fragrant flowers. This year for the first time a botanical couture fashion show was presented. The tickets sold out quickly. This collaborative effort between the AIFD Southern Chapter and the North Carolina State Florists Association, was sponsored by Smithers-Oasis.

Inside the Workroom

While space doesn’t allow for presenting every application or design, here are 10 of the most frequently used techniques for creating wearable natural fashions. 1. Sue Bain AIFD and Robin Weir AIFD worked together to create their Town Tattoo dress and Headdress design. Sue glued the materials of the arm drapes onto two pillowcases. She used several basing techniques such as clustering, layering and pave (lining up materials in a uniform pattern with no depth or space variance between) to develop her decorative tattoo pattern. 2. Robin created a cardboard form and covered it in burlap for the foundation of the headdress. She used OASIS® Floral Adhesive for gluing the plant material, feathers and OASIS™ Midollino Sticks to the form for dramatic effect. She added hypericum berries as accents. Together, Sue and Robin designed a foliage dress to complete the ensemble. 3. Christi Lopez EMC created eveningwear for a mountain jungle that included petalling (adding intricate detail by gluing petals over the surface) creating a delicate white bodice. 4. Terry Godfrey AIFD incorporated crocheting (using a crochet needle to create fabric from interlocking loops of thread-like materials) to create the off-the-shoulder scarf of her mountain jungle millennial design. 5. Bryan Swann created his Hieva Modern Warrior wear by weaving ti leaves (in an interlacing pattern) to create the skirt and hat. He glued the forms together at strategic places using UGLU™ Adhesive Strips. 6. Aisha Crivens AIFD assisted Bryan by layering (overlapping individual units, leaving no space between them) the rows of white anthurium atop the warrior’s equisetum collar formed on a cardboard base. 7. Renee Younger used the technique of binding (securing items together with a binding material for added strength or decoration) groups of Midollino sticks with OASIS™ Metallic Wire to create a form flexible enough to shape into a hat for her Pearls of the Shore design with OASIS™ Mega Beaded Wire accents. Renee also used braiding (a diagonal pattern of three or more fibers interwoven together) to add silver accents to the dress waist. 8. Michael Whaley created a baby’s breath bodice by taping rows of gypsophilia clusters to a camisole with masking tape. Each row overlapped the one before to hide the mechanics. 9. Angela Darrah AIFD created the foundation of her skirt with handmade chicken wire made from OASIS™ Bullion Wire. Using pinning, she used safety pins to attach the form to the fabric. The flower stems and foliage were then woven through the wire and secured. A waterfall of orchids cascaded down the back of the gown. 10. Cydney Davis-English introduced a Tahitian tifaifai (pronounced ti-fay-fay) quilt as the train of a bridal gown. The technique of stitching was used to create the fabric design. Traditionally the bride and groom’s families contribute fabrics to a symbolic tifaifai quilt given as a wedding gift and used to wrap the couple during the ceremony.

On the stage

[rev_slider alias="horti-couture"] The enthusiasm was contagious! It was fun to watch the audience’ faces from stage as they viewed each new design with delight. When it comes to the concept of blending flowers and fashion these designers were naturals. Sean Purcell of Sean Purcell Photography, the official photographer for the event, was amazed by the creative use of materials. “While looking through the camera, I was astounded by how incredible the designs were and then wondered how on earth they actually made it all wearable by the model.” Interestingly, the models seemed to enjoy wearing the unique apparel as much as the designers enjoyed making it and the audience enjoyed viewing it. The exotic horti-couture fashion show was a success! Looking at the photos, which design is your favorite?


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