When it comes to floral artists per capita, Palm Beach surely ranks among the top in the nation. You’ve marveled at their exquisite centerpieces at friends’ homes or their elaborate displays at charity events. Now feast your eyes on their couture creations: bespoke dresses worthy of the runway but rendered in living florals and foliage. Palm Beach Illustrated challenged three floral designers to create sartorial masterpieces, giving them the freedom to let their imaginations bloom.
A flirty nod to the exuberance of youth
The Florists: Reed McIlvaine, owner and event designer, and Nathalie Karjalainen, floral designer; Renny & Reed, Palm Beach
The Dress: Because Palm Beach is younger than ever, Nathalie and Reed were inspired to design a shorter, flirty dress and let the flowers—blue and lavender delphinium, lavender, purple and pink stock, and others—speak for themselves. “Renny & Reed is not known for being ‘fussy,’ so we focused on color, texture, and volume,” Reed says. “We de- signed strappy heels with playful bear grass and fresh florals. And of course, a pet floral flamingo to cap off this Palm Beach moment!”
The Muse: Lauren Layne Merck is a pro model who’s been the face of campaigns for Armani and Polo Ralph Lauren. She currently designs swim- wear under the label Lauren Layne Swim. She says of her floral dress: “The attention to detail was incredible. I felt like a princess in her garden!”
A vibrant tribute to Florida’s flora
The Florist: Rodrigo “Varito” Vasquez, master florist, with project assistants Edmond Siles and Ignacio Colmenares; The Special Event Resource and Design Group, West Palm Beach
The Dress: Florida’s botanical bounty and the vivid hues of the tropics inspired Varito’s floral mermaid gown, which took more than 100 hours to create. Crafted of 8,000 carna- tion petals, 500 berries, 80 calla lilies, 2,000 ruscus leaves, 12 Ecuadorian black roses, and 70 scabiosa bloom heads, all attached by hand, this blossoming tour de force “highlights the wonder, the color, and the beauty found in nature,” according to Varito. His ensemble also includes a floral shoulder shrug, shoes, head piece, and even earrings.
The Muse: Tiffany Marks Isaacs is CEO of luxury handbag and accessory purveyor Lana Marks. “Varito’s passion for floral design is infectious,” she says. “I was captivated by the exquisite craftsmanship that went into creating a masterpiece like this.”
A celebration of the feminine spirit
The Florists: Ricardo Peralta, head floral designer, Antonio Sosa, floral design assis- tant, and Barak Mizrahi, marketing director; Xquisite Events, Boynton Beach
The Dress: Inspired by female empowerment and confidence, the designers created an ensemble that symbolized “freedom of expression, uniqueness, and the natural evolution of the flourishing woman.” The gown is covered in plum calla lilies, Bells of Ireland, purple anthuriums, green dianthus, and hand- applied single petals of amnesia roses with a smattering of panda orchids and asparagus plumosa foliage dyed pink. The extraordinary floral headpiece from which radiate orchids and butterflies represents “the combination of beauty, freedom, and freeing your mind,” Barak says.
The Muse: Whitney Schott is a resident of Palm Beach and Bedford, New York, and a recent graduate of the Christie’s Education master’s program in modern and contemporary art. “I felt like a muse in a work of art,” she says of the Xquisite gown. “It was magical.”
Photography and Styling by Joriann Maye-Keegan
Photographed on location at Pan’s Garden, Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach
Hair and makeup: Deborah Koepper, Deborah Koepper Beauty, Palm Beach Photography assistant: Kierra Keegan
Retouching: Jessica Barrero
Special thanks to Amanda Skier and the staff of the Preservation Foundation for their gracious hospitality.