If you’re a ﬂorist on Instagram, there’s a good chance you’re following @passionﬂowersue or Françoise Weeks. Their inventive use of ﬂowers as wearables, or ﬂoral couture, is inspiring ﬂoral artists worldwide. But while the work they create is so beautiful and impressive for editorial shoots, the principles of design and artistry employed can and should transcend editorial and be applied to everyday wearables such as corsages, boutonnières, ﬂower crowns, hair combs, bracelets and more.
Wearables can be so lush and imaginative. Just look at some of the ﬂoral headpieces or purses by Françoise Weeks or even the ﬂoral wings she created for a recent editorial shoot. But there are elements of me-chanics in these elaborate pieces that can be adapted for prom or wedding work in your everyday business.
Consider the materials featured in botanical couture: Foliages like Cyclamen, Aspidistra, and Kalanchoe hold glue well and work to create a solid base layer for the rest of the design. These are easily accessible materials that can be applicable to any prom or bridal work you do in your shop.
Value is added when we invest time and care into design work and customers can recognize how special ﬂowers feel when there’s artistry be-hind it. The layering of materials and thoughtful placement of each bloom is a delight for the eyes, and they draw us into the enchantment created with each bloom, leaf and pod that’s chosen.
A ﬂoral cuff or bracelet by Susan McLeary contains a bit more craftsmanship than one might see in a traditional wrist corsage (including premium blooms such as Ranunculus, Helleborus, Fritillaria and Astrantia, for example), but a modern one-of-a-kind piece has the potential to be sold at a higher price point than a “traditional wrist corsage,” and designers will ﬁnd that it doesn’t take any more time to create an updated ﬂoral bracelet than it does to wire and tape individual blooms.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few workshops with both Françoise and Susan, and the takeaway for me every time is “try it.”
Experimentation is a necessary part of the design process for wear-ables. It’s critical to experiment in order to understand how the products will perform once we hand them off to the customers.
As working ﬂoral artists, we can get so focused on “the way we’ve always done it” that we forget to play; that’s what Françoise and Susan do so well; they play! They play like pros. They are experts at experimenting. They try things and learn from their efforts, which is a lesson that we must never forget as ﬂorists. Trying new things is essential.
Sometimes we don’t try something new because it’s smarter to stick to what we know. But we have to stop worrying that it won’t work and give something new a try to see if it might work.
For the past few years, I’ve been making ﬂoral bracelets instead of wrist corsages. I will admit there was a bit of a learning curve at ﬁrst – particularly learning how to prevent glue from getting everywhere. However, I can now put together a nice bracelet fairly quickly, often using small succulents I grow outside my studio, as well as Ranunculus, tiny Scabiosa buds, stock and Delphinium ﬂorets, and poppy pods. My wearables feel more personal and professional thanks to trying something new and practicing.
Before saying “it’s impractical” or “my customers wouldn’t pay what I’d need to charge for that,” let me tell you about a $250 headpiece I made. The customer was a huge fan of @passionﬂowersue, and her request was for a “fun and funky head-piece” that was “over the top.” I designed an elaborate larger-than-usual headpiece as requested by the client, and she was more than happy to pay more than $250 for the work.Creating the headpiece was a fun departure from the norm for me. I was able to create a ﬂoral piece that was purely artistic, and the value I created came from the time and skill I put into the work. The value was not tied to the amount of product I used but rather how I used what I had.Consider the ways in which you can make this sort of detail and artistry work for your business. Try something new. Have some fun – and keep doing beautiful work.