By Wendy Wollenberg Posted April 2, 2008, 2:20 PM EDT
On Friday night, the flower-filled Garfield Park Conservatory was the setting for a botanical-themed fashion show dubbed Fleurotica, the first of its kind held in the space. As part of the conservatory's yearlong 100th anniversary celebration, the event served as an opportunity to promote the property to a new audience. “We sought to increase membership, raise awareness about the conservatory, and create a cutting-edge show,” conservatory publicist Micaeh Johnson said.
The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance partnered with local florists Fleur, Dilly Lily, Stems, Robert Daniels, and Hello Darling and students from School of the Art Institute's millinery department to produce the Fleurotica fashions, which included clothing, hats, and accessories made from flowers, plants, and leaves.
The event made good use of the entire Garfield Park Conservatory property, and guests could roam through all the exhibits, from the steamy atmosphere of the Palm House, where local jazz-rock band the J3 Intent performed in front of a waterfall, to the foliage-filled Horticulture Hall, where the fashion show took place. The evening's cocktail hour featured the event's signature drink, the Fleurotini (made with ruby-red grapefruit juice and Effen vodka), plus passed hors d'oeuvres from Jewell Events Catering. The 300-plus guests, including conservatory members, floral-industry professionals, and institute students and instructors, mingled throughout the space, checking out silent-auction items set up among colorful flowers in the show room.
High-top cocktail tables draped in black and hot-pink silk featured centerpieces of floating rose petals and votives, while an ivy-covered backdrop set the stage for the fashion show, in which local florists, as well as models from Ford and Elite agencies, walked the runway. NBC-5's LeeAnn Trotter served as the evening's M.C.
The event took more than eight months for Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance board member Wendy Reutebuch and her team to plan. The committee used publicity efforts, membership directories, and grassroots marketing initiatives through the event's PR and event planning partners to spread the word. “We targeted current members, community residents, and guests in the 21-to-35 age range to drive long-term membership for the conservatory,” Johnson said.