Putting flower power on display

Who doesn’t love flowers? It’s a residency requirement if you want to live in the City of Gardens, isn’t it?

So it just made sense that Fleurs de Villes co-founders Tina Barkley and Karen Marshall, two longtime pals who say they never leave a city they’re visiting without seeing a flower show, would set their sights on Victoria.

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Despite dramatic changes in our cityscape and culture, this is a town that still holds an annual Flower Count promotion, after all.

“It was very apropos to be in Canada’s flower capital,” said Barkley, who with Marshall staged the floral and fashion event’s Canadian première here last Tuesday.

It was hosted by Mayfair Shopping Centre, where you can still see the amazing fusions of fashion, flowers and mannequins created by local designers until closing time today.

From the sights of botanical bikinis to orchids raining on an umbrella-toting mannequin wearing a trenchcoat and rain boots, the fashion and flower power was eye-catching.

“The most phenomenal response was from the florists themselves,” said the Vancouver-based lifestyle expert and media personality, who is also mounting an event there May 4-8 at Oakridge Centre.

“It was an exciting project that they really embraced, and there were people all over the mall stopping dead in their tracks.”

Jane Brajkovic, owner of Fine Floral Designs by Jane, described Fleurs de Villes as “a once-in-a-lifetime event” for local floral designers to network and unleash their creativity.

She won the Best in Show award for Bellissima, a Venetian-style mannequin influenced by productions staged by Pacific Opera Victoria, for which she creates grandiose opening-night floral arrangements.

“We were smitten,” said Brajkovic, whose fashion studies inspired her creation that features a floral gown created with orchids, roses, hydrangeas, carnations and scabiosa.

The front bodice was embroidered with black mondo grass, and her hair was curved into a stylish bun with amaranthus and adorned with a fascinator made of orchids, parrot tulips and Peruvian apple blossoms.

Bellissima, whose mask was arranged with carnation petals, brunia and Adonis foliage, also wears a necklace made out of ornamental threaded dates with a cameo in its centre created with a scabiosa bloom.

Other winners included the Efferve Lemonade mannequin designed by Petal and Kettle, which was named most realistic; and Brown’s The Florist’s Victoria Symphony Mannequin, which took the most-original award.

In addition to the exhibits of 17 floral-dressed mannequins, the five-day fashion and floral extravaganza included a pop-up fresh-flower market at Mayfair on Saturday.

It featured fresh-cut flowers, pots, garden beds and supplies, a nursery, fresh vegetables and a children’s flower craft activity area.

Shoppers also got an opportunity to enter a contest for a chance to win a trip to Paris and other prizes, including a VIP experience at Butchart Gardens and a Coach handbag.

“We’re thrilled to be hosting this amazing spring fashion and floral event. It’s a perfect way to welcome the season,” said Laura Poland, Mayfair’s general manager.

Other local participants included Platinum Floral Design, Foxgloves Flowers, Daisy Chain Florists, Fleurtacious, A Sea of Bloom, Tara McHugh Flora, Jennings Florist, Petals Plus, Ingrid + Rose and Decorate Victoria.

“It was nice being able to network with other floral designers,” Brajkovic said. “Rarely do we get the chance to get together with the best in town. We all have such busy lives and schedules.”

One of the event’s potential offshoots was the creation of a flower association for local florists and designers, Barkley said.

“We didn’t realize they don’t already have a flower association within Victoria. They could reach out and help each other.”

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