Better Makers: Floral Fashions Showcased on the Runway for Garfield Park Conservatory

Design titled “A Little Birdie Told Me...” by Melinda Whitmore with Vitruvian Fine Art Studio. (Photos by Brian Kinyon Photography.)

Imagine a fashion show where all the clothes are made entirely of gorgeous, lush flowers — talk about being one with nature! Perfectly aligned with the Garfield Park Conservatory’s vision to change lives through the power of nature, FLEUROTICA 2018 created a dreamlike runway fashion show experience in its very own breathtaking oasis — often called “landscape art under glass.”

Eighteen of Chicago’s top floral designers partnered with fashion designers, landscape artists, and students to create a lineup of garments made entirely of plants, flowers, and natural materials. Held Oct. 12, the unique runway show experience welcomed 300 guests to the Conservatory for its 10th signature floral fundraiser. More than $200,000 was raised in support of Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance’s children and family education programming. One of the many programs includes the Urban Roots Teen Docent program, which invites local high school students to participate in docent training with paid summer internships and other leadership development training at the Conservatory.

Emceed by Sol Flores, guests enjoyed a colorful evening of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, along with the FLEUROTICA runway fashion show, with special performances by the Hiplet Ballerinas and the Chicago West Community Music Center.

Open 365 days a year, the Conservatory is free to the public and welcomes more than 250,000 visitors annually. Owned by the Chicago Park District, the Conservatory operates in partnership with the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, its nonprofit organization.

One of Chicago’s greatest botanic gems, the Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest, most striking botanical conservatories in the nation. It’s home to thousands of plant species from around the world.

The participating floral designers included A. Hunt Design, Amy Crum Designs, Anemone Creative, Blumgarten, Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Crystal Gravy, Fleur de Lis, Flora Chicago, Flower Child, Greens by White, Honey Street Flowers, Marguerite Gardens, Medusa’s Greenhouse, Roberto Gonzalez Flowers, The Flower Witch, Vale of Enna, Vitruvian Fine Art Studio, and Whole Foods South Loop.

Chicago first lady Amy Rule and Erika Summers chaired this year’s fundraiser. Committee members included Tracie Anderson, Troy Baresel, Barbara Bates (judge), Caroline Bellios (judge), Chanel Coney, Melissa Conyears-Ervin, Melvin Cox, Sol Flores (emcee), Ellie Forman, Sharon Frederick, Courtney Gousman, Vanessa Hall, Georgina Heard, Leah Hope, Deirdre Koldyke, Paul Levy, Cynthia Lyons, Dara Munson, Halleemah Nash, fashion designer Maria Pinto (judge), Tanya Polsky, Sandy Reynolds, and MaryAnn Weprin.

FLEUROTICA 2018 sponsors included GCM Grosvenor, Tanya Polsky, Ariel Investments, ComEd, DRW, Friedman Properties, Mellody Hobson, Mesirow Financial, Polsinelli, and Sterling Bay.

garfield park conservatory: Honey Street Flowers

A warrior-inspired look from Honey Street Flowers, local West Side designer, walked the runway for the first time.

garfield park conservatory: Kate Prince, Sarah Leitten, Flora Chicago

Designers Kate Prince (left) and Sarah Leitten (right) from Flora Chicago with their winning look.

garfield park conservatory: Hiplet, Chicago Multicultural Dance Center

New this year, special performances by Hiplet, choreographed by the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center’s artistic director and founder Homer Bryant.

garfield park conservatory: Jen Van Valkenburg, Erika Summers

Jen Van Valkenburg, CEO and president of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance (left), with Erika Summers, board member and event co-chair, after the runway show.

garfield park conservatory: urban roots

Impact: The event raised funds for the Urban Roots Teen Docent program that engages students from the nearby Al Raby High School, with plans to expand to additional local high schools. The students participate in docent training with paid summer internships and other leadership development training at the Conservatory.

 

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Emily Stone is Associate Editor at Make It Better. She earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work is published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.

 

 

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