Floral has always been the backbone of our business, it’s not only a skillset we pride ourselves in, but it’s a definitive characteristic of who we are as a company. Having started as a small floral outfit over forty years ago, it could be said that blooms are the birthplace of HMR Designs. Now we have an entire studio full of highly-skilled artisans that are masters in their craft, creating anything from classic gala centerpieces to unexpected arrangements, our team knows no creative boundary they can’t break. And though there is little we can’t say we haven’t done, there is one challenge we had yet to tackle: mannequin design.
Enter, Fleurs De Villes. For those unaware, FDV is a traveling couture floral event that has teams create over-the-top designs for designated mannequins using only fresh flowers and their skillset alone. Previous productions have been hosted in London, Vancouver, Quebec, and Edmonton to name a few. Fifteen of the city’s best florists are paired with a corporate partner who compete amongst each other for various award titles in a weeklong showcase. Their work is then debuted with an industry kickoff event that allow guests to view all of the spectacular mannequins on display.
The Chicago Fleurs De Villes premiered on September 25th at 900 N. Michigan Shops with our work taking home the first award of the evening, “Most Realistic.” We would then go on to win the “Fan Favorite” award after a weeklong public vote via ballot systems throughout the downtown shopping center. And while the celebratory affair was short, the hours leading up to it were anything but. In fact, all participants had just two weeks with their mannequin, making for long days and even longer nights.
We began our creative process with our corporate partner, Modern Luxury Weddings Chicago, in mind. In lieu of opting for the expected design of a wedding dress, we wanted to push the limits and think outside of the box. We would create for a modern bride who preferred haute couture over traditional construct. Soon, the bow was born. Voluminous in shape, and show-stealing on it’s own, we knew it had to be paired with something sleek and tailored; a plunging bridal jumpsuit. But not just any jumpsuit, it would be one made up of over one thousand hand-picked silver tree leaves detailed with dewy drop-pearls of white snowberries for touches of feminine grace. The result was a polished design with an elevated take on statement accessories.
And though pretty to gaze at, assembling the work of art was far from glamorous. In fact, it took fifteen hours to build the support structure for the bow alone. And another six to bend it into the perfect shape. It wasn’t until after going through twelve cans of pink spray paint for the ribbon that we plucked our first flower; a vanda orchid. Delicately hand-placed, each orchid was meticulously glued into position on the bow allowing for over twelve hundred blooms in all.
The silver tree leaves used on the jumpsuit took over eight hours to prep, and another two to form it on to the model. Three cases of galax were hand-spun to build the base, while individual snowberries were strung for several hours to construct her draping, jewelry accents. Then there were the shoes. Bromeliad plants bent to the human form naturally, allowing their green and white stripes to pop for detail with a touch of hypericum to add the finishing feature. In all, it took a tremendous amount of talent and dedication, led by our own Jen Demuth, to create this Fleurs De Villes masterpiece. Special thanks to our partner Modern Luxury Weddings Chicago and to Fleurs De Villes for such a spectacular event. Take a moment to enjoy some behind-the scenes snaps below!