Flower Power! Using Custom Botanical Dresses to Promote Locally Grown Flowers

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Flower Power! Using Custom Botanical Dresses to Promote Locally Grown Flowers

June 7, 2024
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Flower Power! Using Custom Botanical Dresses to Promote Locally Grown Flowers

Flower Power! Using Custom Botanical Dresses to Promote Locally Grown Flowers

In the 1960s, the flower power movement influenced the course of fashion, music, and society as a whole. “Flower power” was a powerful slogan that affected social change in decades. Now, Slow Flowers is harnessing the power of flowers to raise awareness about the importance of seeking out locally grown flowers. This time, however, they’ve flipped the switch, using fashion to start the conversation. 

How do they do this? Each year, during American Flowers Week, a select group of artists and designers create custom couture, wearable floral creations. These botanical dresses showcase locally grown flowers and you can see the eye-catching designs on social media. The goal is to educate consumers about the importance of choosing American Grown Flowers while inspiring them to think outside the box and look for new, creative ways to use them. 

girl in a flower dress walking through a sunny meadow

Using botanical couture to inform and inspire

Debra Prinzing, founder of Slow Flowers, started it all in 2015. “The idea of using botanical couture to raise awareness about the importance of domestic cut flowers was actually sparked by a floral dress that a British florist created for British Flowers Week in 2015,” Debra states.  “I have a background in textiles/design/fashion, so it all came together for me. In that British garment, the floral gown was displayed on a tailor’s dress form, but I really love that we have always highlighted floral fashions worn by live models — bringing the flowers to life in a more engaging way”, she explains.

Previous dresses from American Flowers Week. Image courtesy of Slow Flowers.
Previous dresses from American Flowers Week. Image courtesy of Slow Flowers.

Flower power: starting the conversation about domestic flowers

Debra hopes wearable floral designs can serve as a platform for a larger conversation about the importance of supporting local flower farmers and sourcing blooms domestically. “The response (to the Botanical Couture Collections) is curiosity, fascination, conversation, delight, and wonder. People in the U.S. love flowers, and many are avid gardeners. But their awareness that there is a dynamic U.S. cut flower farming community and that cut flowers are grown in all 50 states is relatively low,” she emphasizes. Deborah emphasizes these efforts stating, “We are just trying to engage viewers in seeing flowers in a new way — and hopefully, looking for [and supporting] their own local farms.”

Designing botanical couture: the creative process

Jenny Diaz, a Central California artist and graphic designer, has participated in American Grown Flowers Week since 2020. She starts with a vision board. From there, she establishes a theme and begins to hammer out all the details—what she wants the dress to look like, how to style her model’s hair and makeup, and what locations would work well for the resulting photoshoot. Once all the details are in place, Jenny sources a cost-effective dress to attach the flowers to. 

Camflor, a California floral wholesaler, supplies the flowers for Jenny’s designs. Jenny specifies what flowers and colors she has in mind. Then, Camflor sources the California Grown flowers and ships them to Jenny’s studio. 

As soon as the flowers arrive, it’s time to start the build. Jenny painstakingly lays out the flowers, gluing them one by one onto the dress.

photographer taking pictures of a girl in a floral dress

Because she’s working with fresh flowers, time is of the essence, as the flowers will wilt rather quickly once she attaches them to the dress. While Jenny is assembling the dress, a stylist works on her model’s hair and makeup to create a look that aligns with the overall vision. Once everything is in place, Jenny does a quick final try-on with her model. Finally, she heads out to photograph her creation.

A closer look: Jenny’s 2024 American Flowers Week dress!

The inspo

This year’s creation was inspired by the painting of Czech artist Alphonse Mucha. Mucha is well known for his whimsical works, often depicting women adorned with flowers. Jenny’s 2024 botanical dress pays homage to Mucha’s aesthetic. 

Shown: “Flower” by Alphonse Mucha. Image courtesy of www.alfonsmucha.org

Flower, by Alphonse Mucha - one of the paintings that inspired Jenny's creation

Why Choose California Grown Flowers?

a bouquet of flowers with the CA GROWN license plate displayed on the wrapper

California flower farmers produce 75% of all domestic cut flowers and greens. Unfortunately, despite this production, many of the flowers you’ll find at grocery stores and even florists are imports. Do you care about California farmers and where your flowers are grown? If so, it’s incredibly important to look for – and ask for – California Grown blooms. 

Happy California Grown Flowers Month

June is California Grown Flowers Month! The best way to celebrate is to support your local flower farmers by buying California Grown Flowers – whether you’re creating a dress, a bouquet, or anything in between. 

How to Shop For, Cook, and Decorate With Cut Flowers From California

Celebrate American Grown Flowers Week with California Grown

American Grown Flowers Week is June 28th- July 4th! Are you a fan of flower power? Be sure to follow #americanflowersweek and #slowflowerssociety to see some of the other incredible works of art designed using locally grown blooms and greenery! 

If you loved Jenny’s 2024 creation, check out some of her previous dresses!

Jenny Diaz profile pic

Meet the maker

Jenny Diaz is a Central California artist and graphic designer who frequently works with the CA GROWN team. Her work includes the beautiful illustrations for the CA GROWN Zodiac Commodity Pairings. Jenny enjoys using her creative talents to educate folks about California’s incredible bounty, creating botanical dresses for American Grown Flowers Week since 2020.  “I think it’s special to buy local,” she explains. “You get to see that all of this came from California. You get to create something more than just a bouquet and I think it grabs people’s attention.” 

Article by Hilary Rance. Photography by Hilary Rance and Jenny Diaz.

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