Floral Debut

I’m so excited to show you these gorgeous images taken by Gabrielle McMillan at the Henley Town Hall earlier this month.


I was asked to create a floral couture piece to appear on the catwalk at the Henley House & Garden Show and other than using fresh flowers and it to be spring like, the brief was completely open. Back in December I had created a gothic looking piece for a shoot called “Keeper of the Trees”(see my last blog for images). This foliage dress had a long trail, high hat and a touch of vampire glam about it. I knew I wanted the new piece to be completely different. I wanted it to be young, fresh, fun and pretty.


As the show was to be early spring my first thoughts were of a pill box hat of white anemones. Once I had decided on that, the tone was set for the rest of the outfit. I sketched out a girl wearing a little bolero and a knee length floaty skirt. I was certain I wanted the jacket to be well tailored and be able to move with the model, so I needed to choose my materials carefully. The last thing I wanted was for the model to look like she was wearing a rigid box.

Floral Debut

The skirt needed to swish, so I decided to keep the fabric light and just create a fresh flower trim which would hold the skirt out slightly to add to the movement.

I wanted to use as many English flowers as possible so decided on anemones, tulips, ranunculus and alstroemeria for the hat, trim and corsage. I struggled to find anything English that would hold so early in the season for the main body of the jacket, so had to make a slight compromise there and order in some fresh tree fern through the dutch auction. I did manage to source some English pittosporum for the lapel.

The fern worked perfectly. It was dainty but robust, allowing me to weave each strand into shape. The shoulders into the sleeves was the hardest section to get right. I felt the success of the jacket hung on the  shoulders and neck, these were the key elements to ensure the jacket had a good line and stayed looking like a wearable garment. I was really happy with how the lapel turned out, fitting the model beautifully.


Floral Couture has to be created quickly with the main bulk of the work happening the day before it’s going to be shown. Otherwise you run the risk of it all wilting and looking awful. So, there isn’t any time for fittings, you’ve just got to go for it and hope you’ve got it right.


My model, Amber Martin was so perfect, 16 years old and gorgeous. A huge thanks to her.


My next piece will be created for an evening of Floral Couture & Cocktails at my studio near Wallingford,Oxfordshire on 3rd June. More details on that soon : )

Floral Debut – Images by Gabrielle McMillan. Hair & make up by Jade Soar at Velvetina Floral couture by Floral Circus


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