By Lisa Martin
Models in costumes made out of flowers moved through the crowd at this year’s Bouquets to Art opening gala at the de Young Museum on March 12, demonstrating the ingenuity and design skills of the eight City College horticulture students who created the unique floral fashions.
Bouquets to Art is an annual fundraising event held by the San Francisco Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums. Florists are invited to create bouquets inspired by the art in the de Young Museum. City College retail floristry students have been creating flowery dresses and costumes for the event’s gala “since its inception” 34 years ago, according to Horticulture Department Chair Steven Brown.
Brown works with the Bouquets to Art committee to help coordinate student proposals and selections for the event. This year the students selected to design and create floral costumes were Rosa Mendoza, Lina Woo, Shari Wilk, Armando de Loera Mejia, Grace Andrade, Summer Kwak, Bora Yoo and Dahee Han.
Participants described a months long process that involved visiting the museum early in the year to find inspiration, creating three proposals for the Bouquets to Art committee to choose from that described their interest in the artworks, the materials and techniques to be used for their creations, sourcing their materials at the flower market and finally constructing the garment for the event.
Presenting at this venue is an important moment for the floristry students, according to Grace Andrade. “It is your first networking appearance in the floral industry. Once you participate in this event, people notice you and your design.” she said.
Even though there was about a month after the committee’s selections were announced for students to plan and create their floral costumes, realistically most of the work needed to be done in the two days before the event.
“Floral materials not in water could only last so long,” Lina Woo said. There is strategy involved in timing the purchase of the flowers for a project like this. Florists must also contend with the fact that there may be a shortage of certain flower varieties or colors. In the days leading up to the big night, Woo was scouting the SF Flower Market at 5:30 a.m. to find the right blooms.
“With all the plants and flowers attached to the suit, it definitely made it a little bit heavier and not as flexible and form fitting as typical clothes we wear today” said Sam Lee, who modeled an outfit inspired by European nobility that was created by his wife Summer Kwak. A certain amount of care needs to be taken when wearing such a garment, but in the end he thought it was worth it to display the beauty of these creations.
For these budding florists, the effort paid off. “After working about 40 hours from start to end in the creation of this floral fashion dress, I was extremely satisfied to see and hear the overwhelming acceptance and accolades by the public in general,” Armando de Loera Mejia said.
The Bouquets to Art event didn’t end with the gala and the dresses. The morning after the gala, Brown brought the outfits to SAKS at Union Square where they were displayed in the store. At the museum, florists from around the Bay Area and around the world filled the galleries with art-inspired floral arrangements from March 13 to March 18, including a Warhol-inspired bouquet created by CCSF horticulture professor Holly Money-Collins and some of her students.