Living Flowers

Flower gowns, anyone? These trends are giving floristry new life

Joezel Yumul is wavering between angel wings and monarch butterfly wings. Angel wings made of masses of white baby’s breath would be more ethereal, but butterfly wings of orange chrysanthemums would be more dramatic—especially considering the wings will be attached to a life-sized mannequin in a ruffled gown also entirely made of fresh flowers.

“I’m thinking [of] something really a little bit crazy,” the floral designer tells me by phone from his Toronto studio in early March. Crazy because he wants to top his design from last year, when he worked for 48 hours straight, sticking 1,400 individual stems of statice and blue globe thistle into a frame he’d made out of dollar-store pool noodles.

The result was a purple-and-white mermaid gown, along with matching gloves, purse and a picture hat. For the show coming up in May, one challenge will be finding a flower dark enough to stand in for black—he’s thinking dark burgundy hypericum berries. “As much as possible, I don’t want to spray,” he says. “That’s one of the rules in Fleurs de Villes. Before you can spray, you have to ask Tina’s permission.”

Fleurs de Villes is a Canadian-born floral couture installation showcase that is fast becoming a series of international fairs—it’s doing for flowers what the Fringe Festival did for theatre. “We’ve turned the flower-show model on its head,” says Tina Barkley, who founded the company along with Karen Marshall in 2016.