It was a privilege to observe the Flora & Fauna Fashion Show at , Va., on May 2, both from behind the scenes and as an audience member. The best way to describe the event: a celebration!
The floral couture fashion show was a benefit for two pediatric cancer charities, Along Comes Hope and Team Mathias. Models in the fashion show included cancer survivors, both children and adults, ranging in ages from 4 to 70. Even some young siblings accompanied the models. The organizers of both charities also walked the flower-lined runway*, as well as two members of the Chapel Designers who are cancer survivors themselves.
powerful experience creates forever memories
The entire production, organized by Holly, cannot easily be described by those who witnessed or participated in the event; however, Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, EMC, said it best when she described the event as “flowers with a purpose.”
Parie Donaldson, owner of Parie Designs in Amarillo, Texas, said of the experience, “What was so powerful about this event, not only as a participant in the design process but also as a model walking the runway, is that it absolutely shows what a community of people with like minds and passions can accomplish. It was also a beautiful, poignant reminder of how important my flower tribe/community was to me during my cancer journey.”
Floral designers from around the world created custom floral couture for each model under the tutelage of Gregor Lersch, Hitomi, Françoise Weeks and Susan McLeary, as well as Holly, who taught both design and business. The design work was created during a Chapel Designers Workshop in which more than 35 floral artists invented wearable floral pieces to be showcased on the runway. The three-day workshop was inspirational and incredibly informative, but the Flora & Fauna Fashion Show itself was transformative, purposeful, big-hearted, brave and fresh – or as Jenny Mulks, founder and CEO of Along Comes Hope, said “This was not just an event; it was an experience and a forever memory!”
As a member of the Chapel Designers for the past few years, I have seen Holly make some “forever memories” before, but this event was powerful to witness. I was moved to tears more times than I could count as I watched the beautiful artistry each designer created and the beautiful models who proudly wore the work. As I watched one of the models try on her floral epaulettes before the show, I couldn’t help but wonder what she thought about wearing “all these flowers”; I was delighted to watch her face light up as she declared out loud, “I feel amazing!”
These fierce, brave survivors are an example of strength and tenderness. As Lindsay Diminick, of Yellow Twist Floral Design in Scarborough, Maine, said, “There was a lot of power in being able to celebrate being cancer free. Holly created an amazing thing here.”
Holly has added a beautiful aspect of community and giving back into her work. Whether through her workshops or events at Hope Flower Farm, “flowers with purpose” is guaranteed to be a recurring theme.
* FUN FACT: The runway (above) was lined with fresh flowers that were simply arranged into plastic utility tubs. Chicken wire, which covered the openings of the containers, held the flowers in position.
Learn more about the charities at alongcomeshope.com and teammathias.org.
Holly wishes to acknowledge and thank these companies that supported Flora & Fauna with product donations:
David Austin Roses