Destination: Palm Beach, Florida

A few weeks ago I was asked to participate in a Destination Wedding photo shoot in beautiful, sunny Florida. I had just returned from Vermont where it was 20 degrees and Baltimore wasn't much better with its gray skies and chilly air-- my decision was practically made for me. While I had a go of it trying to re-arrange some projects, I managed to do so just in time to board the Air-Tran plane with my very talented colleagues.

The group that worked on this project were incredibly professional artists that I have been fortunate to work with previously. There was famed make-up artist, Ashley Riddle, of Up Do's for I Do's; the dynamic film trio of Balance Photography: Nerissa Miller, Nathaniel Corn, and their enthusiastic assistant, Brittany, and finally, me who was representing, A Garden of Earthly Delights.

It was a whirlwind trip that was filled with lots of hard work and really long hours, but the exotic models, location and flowers made it all very worth while. We arrived in the mid afternoon and drove immediately to the floral wholesaler, which happened to be located next to a strip club--(so reminiscent of Baltimore). I grabbed my floral stash, and headed back to Del Ray Beach where our central operations was located. Without so much as a break, I conditioned the flowers and within an hour, was busy creating some pretty spectacular designs.

The first shot took place that night in West Palm Beach's town center. It was a little chilly but the sky was clear and we managed to find some unusual shoot sites. While Rissa was photographing the models in the small park that housed a modernized water fountain, I spied out one of the most spectacular trees I've ever seen. There were lights all around the base of it, perhaps to honor its beauty? I am unsure of the name, but we were all thankful to have found such an immensely beautiful, old arbol in the midst of all the palm trees. It also provided some great shots of the bride and groom (models). Pictures of this forthcoming...

The other locations were varied and Nathaniel and Rissa took two teams out in order to pack alot of shots in small period of time. Rissa began shooting early the following morning we arrived at the beach, which provided just enough wind for some very beautiful flowing shots of gowns and hair. (pictures coming soon!) Nathaniel and Brittany found some great scenic places on piers, city monuments and architecture-- including the famous Colony Hotel, where they captured some great pictures inside the Presidential suite. In all, there was a well-balanced scenic background for each model. The "Balance Photography" gang managed to match each one with the right location, not an easy feat to accomplish when time constraints are present. Since we all work under pressure, we all worked well together; each of us understanding the delicacy of getting it right the first time. It was a very successful shoot, and these are just a few of the many images Nathaniel and Rissa produced. There was also a boudoir shoot taking place in between wedding shoots, I honestly don't know how they do what they did. Since this is a P.G. blog, I can't post any of the sexy pics, but you can go to Balance Photography's website and check out: I highly recommend them for both types of photography. P.S. only Rissa does the boudoir, so not to worry feeling embarrassed in front of Nathaniel the rock star!

Floral designs by: Carole Langrall
Photos by: Balance Photography
Hair and Make-up by: Ashley Riddle, Up Do's for I Do's

Chaussures de Fleurs (Flower Shoes)

These are some images of my two favorite things in life: flowers and footwear.

Spring fashion 2009 has been touted as the "season of flowers" by style-watchers world wide and they aren't kidding. Flower motifs are in full bloom in clothes, hair styles, even in shoes. From sandals to pumps, it seems that footwear is the latest way to pay homage to Mother Nature.

After seeing some amazing floral interpretations of shoes and boots at the Philadelphia Flower Show in March, I realized what a suitable combination flowers and footwear could be. Last season Prada came out with floral Art Nouveau inspired high heels. While seemingly impractical to the average shoe-buyer, they were heavily advertised making their image hard to forget. And who can resist the beauty of flowers from the Art Nouveau period?

Flowers dominated the cat-walk at the 2009 Paris Fashion Week, including some over-the-top attractions. Bruno Frisoni, creative director for Roger Vivier, debuted an outrageous pair of hand-made fabric flower covered wedges. Coined as the “One Is Too” spring couture line, his shoes live up to this play-on-words. His designs may seem more fancy than functional, but he is serious about his craft. The mark of Frison’s mentor, Roger Vivier, is evident in these shoes-as-art, and the addition of Mother Nature’s bounty only makes them more attractive.

Another designer label who got inspiration from the garden was Scherer-Gonzalez. Their spring 2009 shoe collection was focused solely on fresh flowers. Talk about ready-to-wear! The interesting thing about these designer shoes is they were rather unexpected in structure—somewhat akin to floral designs-atop-lucite-stripper-heels. Regardless of your first impression, they make a statement…and likely will inspire women to “pimp up” their feet.

Not all shoes this season are so heavily decorated like those in the Paris show. There are many pairs available in stores across America that keep the floral theme alive in a more discreet fashion. I suppose there is something for everyone, but I have to go with the couture designer’s philosophy—if you’re going to take from the garden, make sure it’s enough for an arrangement. Shoes and flowers--a good fit if you ask me.

Run-way model with fresh flower shoes, 2009
Dolce and Gabbana inspired flower shoes, Philadelphia Flower Show
Run-way shoe, Roger Vivier Collection, Spring 2009
Run-way shoe, Scherer-Gonzalez, Spring 2009
Run-way shoe, Scherer-Gonzalez, Spring 2009
Spring 2009 Fashion Run-way shoes
Prada Flower Shoes, 2008
Flower Shoes, Paris Fashion Week, 2009

More than a glue gun was involved in the creation of these...

J'Adore les Chaussures de Fleurs-de Paris, of course.

Bella Italia blooms at Philadelphia Flower Show

I did some flower spying this weekend, but instead of going somewhere exotic and fabulous, I chose to stay in the U.S.-- the mid-atlantic to be exact. This trip was for the largest indoor flower show in the world, the Philadelphia Flower Show, which took place in same city. I had little time, due to a large wedding on Sunday, but I managed to cover some gorgeous ground.

The theme this year was Bella Italia, and although I've never visited Italy, I can only imagine that it is every bit as beautiful as the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (P.H.S.) re-created. When you enter the show, you are immediately greeted by two enormous urns filled with an even larger, beautiful arrangements of assorted roses, hydrangea, eremurus, acasia mimosa and lush greens. They were truly magnificent.

Now I must pause here for a minute and offer my disclaimer: I am a floral designer by trade and can be somewhat (alright... very) scrutinizing with floral design. It is not meant as snobbery or callousness, it just comes with the turf-- I know flowers and I really know good flowers. I have been going annually for 10 years now, and not always do they hit it. Sometimes the landscaping is the highlight of the show while in others it's the garden club floral design competition that shines. This year, I thought all categories pleased, at least for this international flower spy. And while the orchid plant section is usually must see, I didn't even see get to the exotic plant judging area. Remember, I only had an hour, but I still managed to discover all sorts of fiores bellos e interessantes.

This year, there were lots of laboratory-like containers, including hanging test tubes, large bell jars and apothecary jars in several sizes. Each had unusual florals and/or exotic greenery inside them. One of the more eye-catching displays was this slatted wall covered entirely with green cymbidium orchids in tiny tubes. Incredible concept!

I loved the use of orchids as science lab decor, its Darwin motif didn't go unnoticed... attendees were swarming around like bees by the unusual exhibits.

Another design display that stood out were the succulents and cacti. I never used to appreciate these plants until I visited the Botanical Gardens in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Once I learned some background information about them, I get excited now when I spot a waxy echeveria or the webby clustered thorns on the hedgehog cactus. They are very alluring in an odd way.

Next stop was to the desert plants, where some bromeliads and cool water roses rested together on metal racks. It looked like dried bulbs were mixed in the grouping, but I'm not sure. In any case, the design was unique, and strangely attractive.

Speaking of the strange, I found a section containing modern designs that was pretty out there. I couldn't take my eyes off this spiraling vortex of bear grass, aspidistra leaves and anthurium inside a red metal swirl. It was amazing.

There were so many exhibits it was difficult to pick a favorite, but I loved this room of all yellow flowers. There was a wall with a circle of sunflower heads in the background with these tall cylinders of blooming forsythia off to the side. It was very clean and striking.

Another vignette that stood out was this falling amaryllis bulb design. You don't usually see the entire bulb, but this display showed many.

Once I made my way through more gardens and floral still life, I entered the area I like to call the "girl section." Each year, members of local floral studios and garden clubs design jewelry out of botanical matter, which often includes seeds and pods. It is quite unreal to describe, and unless you've seen these small works of art, you may not understand their brilliance. For me, these displays are incredibly entrancing, and the imagination that goes into creating them is off the chart.

These two necklaces were my favorites. I'm unsure if either of them won the blue ribbon, but it didn't matter, they are both winners in my eyes.

Jewelry wasn't the only feminine attraction. I looked across the room and found floral interpretations of another girl's best friend--shoes! There was even a pair of tall ones to fill the international flower spy's boot fetish! To look closely at all the detail is amazing. It's no surprise that this was the most crowded area in the show. These were well worth my ticket of admission.

These bark heeled pumps complete with dried leaves and fungus were crazy sexy!

More autumn inspired pumps of dried leaves and acorns... very smart.

If you've never been to this flower show, you must go next year. It is worth the travel and afterwards, there are hundreds of wonderfully hip restaurants in Philly to stop in. As far as this visit, all I can utter is: "Viva Italia!" Que bello!

All photos by: The International Flower Spy

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