Fashion & Shopping

Floral Fashion, Literally

March 26, 2017

To adjust an old maxim slightly, March showers bring April flowers. At least, they do when it comes to Fleurs De Villes: an incredible event that combines high fashion and fresh florals through inventive and artful displays at top shopping centres across Canada. Ahead of this year’s "living dress" mannequin series (April 5 to 9 at Metrotown in Burnaby; look for everything from a fresh-flower gown to a blooming bikini, as well as VITA’s very own model) and flower market (April 8, same venue), we chatted with Fleurs De Villes’ founders, Vancouverites Tina Barkley and Karen Marshall, about all things floral (from how to wear to why to grow—er, we mean go). —Noa Nichol

fleurs de villes

Flowers and fashion, fashion and flowers—what’s the connection?

Karen: Historically, fashion has always been inspired by flowers, whether through colour (a certain pigment) or design (a scalloped edge) or decoration (fine floral needlework). Just look at some of the most beautiful paintings of Marie Antoinette, arguably one of the most prolific fashion leaders the world has ever known, and the inspiration she took from flowers in her dress and in her painting poses—there is a strong and very deliberate connection to all things floral. Today the same holds true; go into any store this spring and see the number of garments with floral prints, the resurgence of floral wallpapers and cushions, etc. Fleurs de Villes takes this all one big step further, showcasing living dresses of 100 per cent fresh flowers—not just prints, or fake silk flowers. When that all comes together, you have a stop-in-your-tracks experience like no other.

What was the impetus to create this event? What’s your personal connection to flowers—and with fashion?

Karen: Our mutual love of flowers and high regard for those who work with them started things off. Flowers make everyone happy. The opportunity to present them in an original way, in high-traffic areas, propelled us to create Fleurs de Villes. Working with enlightened shopping centres that felt the same way allowed us to showcase these great works in an environment where fashion rules. Each florist creates a completely unique experience with their mannequin—it’s remarkably creative, original and different. Individuality is key—very much how I feel about fashion overall.

fleurs de villes

What local florists are participating in this year’s event?

Tina: We are so honoured to have so many of Vancouver’s most talented florists creating designs for us this year. Our Little Flower Company, Garlands, Floralista and Quince … to name a few!

Do you have a favourite flower?

Karen: It’s a hard toss up between a gardenia—I am transfixed by the scent—and a peony, which is the single most beautiful thing in the organic world I feel. Pure perfection.

Tina: That’s like asking a kid what her favourite candy is! It’s impossible to pick just one. I’m a dahlia fanatic and have been growing them for several years now. When those dinner plate dahlias come in from the garden I am just in awe. I’ve always loved coral peonies. They leave me speechless. And, as a child, I always planted sweet peas with my grandparents—a tradition that I do to this day. Even if they just last a day or two, their aroma … !

What can we expect to see on the mannequins this year?

Tina: Sheer greatness will undoubtedly be on display. What you see in a photo is infinitely more powerful in person—you feel the freshness of the flowers. There will be gowns and frocks. Dresses with intricate bodices and layers, straight-up bikinis and who knows what else these designers will dream up?!

Any tips for incorporating not just florals but actual flowers into our daily wardrobes?

Tina: Be bold, wear that flower in your hair! Fashion today is about being an individual so, if flowers make you happy, wear one. Or two. Or three.

fleurs de villes

Many Vancouverites would say our city is THE city of flowers; would you agree?

Karen: Having launched Fleurs de Villes this year and last in Victoria, I feel citizens of that city might disagree! Victoria’s known as City of Gardens and has an annual flower count, so it’s hard to compete with that. However, Vancouver, would be in the running as well. People in Vancouver love flowers and the talents of the florists in the city are world class. Fleurs de Villes is a showcase for that talent; and not only in Vancouver, in each city we show in. We bring the best the city has to offer in floral talent to the people!

Tina: Vancouver is a city filled with avid gardeners and outdoorsy people. It is the perfect city for Fleurs De Villes, especially on the eve of gardening season when the keeners have dusted off their shovels and hoes and are chomping at the bit to get soil under their fingernails! Fleurs De Villes is inspiration for anyone—but Vancouverites do love their flowers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


get social


get more out of


Want the best, curated headlines and trends on the fly?

get more out of vita

Sign up for one, or sign up for all!