Step into a world where botanical artistry meets global destinations as we introduce you to some of the brilliant minds behind Fleurs de Villes VOYAGE.
In this display, 15 fresh floral mannequins take center stage, each a testament to the extraordinary creativity of local floral designers and artists. They have transformed the beauty of flowers into wearable art, representing cultures from around the world, going far beyond traditional floral displays.
Learn about the stories, inspirations, and sheer artistry behind these botanical masterpieces!
Florist: Madi Schiller, Bloom Floral Creative
Describe the inspiration behind your mannequin.
Madi Schiller: Our mannequin theme is China and our inspiration for this piece was the Lunar New Year. So, a couple of elements we wanted to pull from the Lunar New Year as it's a time of celebration, feasting with family, and giving gifts. A big part of it is the colour red for wealth and prosperity. We wanted to bring in that red in the dress. The dancing dragon is another aspect which they often have in parades and different performances. It is so celebratory and full of life, and we wanted to capture that movement and vibrancy and just make it feel like a celebration. The last thing would be like the red Lanterns, which they use to welcome prosperity.
Can you tell us about some of the elements that you used within the design?
Some of our favourite elements in the design are the rose petals, which are all individually painted and glued on. They've preserved petals, which is just helpful because they're not going to shrink on us as they dry. Another thing is the milkweed pods. It’s actually like the flower, but it turns inside out, and you're left with this beautiful, dried shell, the inside’s kind of a golden colour. They just have this fuzzy, cute texture. Lastly, I have a ginger flower as an accent, which does grow natively in China. So, I wanted to have that included as paying homage to that Chinese culture as well.
What were some of your biggest challenges when you were planning this mannequin?
Time. Because I might have made it a little bigger than it needed to be. Haha. Figuring out the structure of the Dragon was a tricky one for us. My dad helped me build these poles and set them up so they would be strong. Sculpting all the wire and the foam inside to make it work was very time-consuming and tedious work and came with a few scratches but worth it.
Have you ever done anything remotely like this before?
Not with a mannequin specifically. We have put on a couple of different art shows before. In April of last year, we put on our floral art exhibit in Winkler, and we were trying to bring in more of this floral art to our community because I do think it's so impactful and beautiful.
You were awarded two awards at the VIP event. Tell us more about that.
We won florist favourite, which is a huge honour because this place is full of amazing florists and designers that I've followed for so long and have looked up to and admired so much. So, for them to see my work and think it's awesome is just incredible. I'm so flattered. We also won the most realistic design, which I love because the details are so important to me, and I probably would have gone another few hours on details if we had the time. It was an amazing feeling and I'm just honoured to be here.
Florist: Brittany Fache, Fache Florals
Tell us about your connection with the country your mannequin represented, Japan.
Brittany Fache: I have done the mannequin for Japan. I chose to do Japan because I have special ties to it. I went there as a child. When I was 14 as part of an exchange group at my middle school, I was connected with a wonderful soul, Her name is Chiemi Suzuki and she and I are still connected to this day. Over 20 years later, she's an artist and a mom, the same as me. And we've shared all the chapters of life, including kind of creating this piece a little bit together.
I wanted to do Japan justice and make sure I tapped into the culture by using the soft colour stories, that draw the eye in and up and around.
Tell us about the details of the kimono.
The kimono is the biggest question mark for people who are coming by. It's bleached monstera leaves, so they're like flexible paper. Then I was able to create my textile, including the seam that you see coming down left over right, which is very important in Japanese culture. I just wanted to make sure that I hit a lot of the details that were important to amplify a kimono and the special quality of it for the culture.
Touch on some of the flowers you used.
Choosing the floral aspects, like orchids, and long-lasting carnations that were a really special colour, looping the leaves to have a different kind of textural effect, and making the colours pop with each other was important.
The Moab Rose is really special. The colour is like a peachy apricot blush. It's so fun. And the orchids are gorgeous too. They’re a chocolate cymbidium orchid. I also wanted to bring in a little bit of Manitoba flavour, which is the dried hydrangea donated from my mom's garden and her neighbours, they're lovely. And so many people come in and they say, I have these in my garden, and I think that is so wonderful because it resonates for us. So, I just carried them across again, moving the eye with the little blooms to just add another hint of detail.
What was it like to be part of this show?
I have never done anything quite like this before. I've done a lot of weddings, almost a couple of hundred of them at this point. But to adorn a mannequin with flowers and have the creative potential to do anything you want. For me, it was something I wanted to be part of.
I'm so thrilled to be able to share this creative piece. It's such a unique event. Overall, the creativity of Winnipeg florists, it's just been amazing to witness. I've been here quite a bit over the weekend and I plan to be here throughout the week a little bit.
Florist: Kayla Robinson, Academy Florist
Tell us about your mannequin.
Kayla Robinson: We have a fairy mannequin. We researched the folklore behind Scotland, which is what our mannequin represents, and a lot of that is fairies and the national animal happens to be a unicorn. So that's kind of where we started and built off of that. There's a fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, and then it all just kind of came together after discovering that.
What are some of your favourite elements of what you've created?
The Unicorn is one of our favourites. You can't help but want to touch it. We've named it-and it's our shop pet now. We used a base of a lawn ornament, actually stuffed it and formed it with little knobby knees. All the rest came together with the wings and the dress and the train, the rolling hills of Scotland, I don't know if I could pick a favourite.
Were there any challenges as you worked on this project?
We wanted to keep this foam-free, so not using any floral foam. That's one of our biggest challenges, making sure that our stems get to some kind of water source. Underneath there are buckets, there's chicken wire, there's moss. It is a labour of love just figuring it out and trying to make sure that we're getting as many flowers into the water as possible.
Have you ever done anything like this before?
Flowers on a mannequin is a new experience. Never had anything like this and never had anything that's had to last ten days. We've done some amazing creations for weddings, but that only really needs to last a day. So, creating something that's got to last a full ten days is a challenge and something that we stepped up to the plate and we're ready to take it on.
What has it meant to you just to be a part of Fleurs de Villes VOYAGE?
It is so cool to be in a room with such talent and see how everyone took their destination and ran with it. I feel privileged to be a part of it.
Fleurs de Villes VOYAGE is on now at The Leaf from January 11 - 21! We are so grateful to all the talented florists who participated in this event and brought the show to life. Thank you!