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14 Sep

Fleurs De Villes’

With a fresh, forward-thinking approach to design, the Fleurs De Villes’ flower show model is introducing the latest floral talent in shopping destinations across the world.

Karen Marshall and Tina Barkley are quickly becoming known for their unique Fleurs De Villes’ flower shows, which are bringing premium retail spaces, public squares and shopping destinations back to life as the trend for online shopping grows. In our latest article, they share their creative vision with us and explain how their pop-up installations are encouraging people back to public shopping destinations.   

Barkley and Marshall first started Fleurs de Villes in Vancouver in 2016 and have since hosted their botanical art shows across the globe, including Covent Garden, Jardin Blanc at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Hudson Yards in New York. Each show presents floral art differently, and the compositions showcase the absolute best talent from local florists, designers, growers, and nurseries. The purpose behind the show, however, is to encourage people to come back to public spaces, support independent brands and help retail locations to bloom once again.  

Gracing a floral catwalk in locations across the world

Their signature ‘Mannequin Series’ is having the most significant impact, displaying graceful mannequins adorned with hundreds of blooms, from Roses, Dahlias, Palm leaves, Peonies, Orchids, succulents, and much more. ‘We connect brands and organisations with the public in fresh, new ways through our floral installations,’ Karen explains. ‘This is a form of art which is at the forefront of authentic, and utterly unique, stop-in-your-tracks style. Visitors are drawn to the public spaces to see the temporary designs, engage with their senses and share their experience with others.’

Each show presents the beauty of flowers in a distinctive way, allowing the public to access an exceptional sensory experience that they wouldn’t see anywhere else. Fleurs de Villes’ is an event that always reflects the unique culture and personalities of every location. In New York, designers produced mannequins dressed in floral versions of the iconic, billowing gowns seen in Broadway musical “Hamilton’. There were also references to Cindy Lauper, Times Square on New Year’s Eve, Central Park, Studio 54, and the Statue of Liberty.

Celebrating the creativity of florists and designers

Top florists are eager to collaborate and design intricate floral motifs and fashions, and the team are usually inundated with an abundance of applications as soon as the team announced a new show location. “We work with small, independent businesses and designers who usually have little time to spare, but when allowed to use their creativity and promote their work to a wider audience, they show great commitment and passion.” 

At a glance, there are no limits to what the designers can achieve; however, there are some rules, and all installations must be made from 100 per cent organic material. Designers are permitted to create structural forms underneath the flowers and will often use wood, metal panels and chicken wire under the petals. Water sources also need to be secretly incorporated into the arrangement to keep the flowers looking fresh during the show. The finished floral creations are unveiled at a VIP event, where the designers have the chance to talk to journalists and compare notes with other entrees. The installations are then judged for “Best in Show,” “Most Original,” “Most Realistic” and “Florist Favourite” before the event is opened to the public. Attendees can vote for their preferred mannequins, and the winner is awarded the “Fan Favourite” prize at the end of the show.

Karen and Tina are continually receiving new requests from potential hosting partners and cities spanning the globe. This year, the pandemic put their 2020 plans on hold, as the case has been for so many other events. However, the team hope to make a return to the UK in May 2021 at Covent Garden, and then in July 2021 at RHS Tatton Park.