Garfield Park Conservatory Raises Funds With Flower Fashion Show

By Jenny Berg March 29, 2012, 12:41 PM EDT

Photo: Brian Kinyon

Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance's Fleurotica
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Fleurotica, now in its fifth year, is a benefit for the Garfield Park Conservatory that has traditionally taken place—naturally—at the Garfield Park Conservatory. This year, though, planners had to search for a new venue to hold the happening, which centers on a fashion show with looks constructed entirely out of plants and flowers, after a severe hailstorm last summer damaged 60 percent of the glass that covers the conservatory.

“We moved the event to a new location, Venue One,“ said event chair Richard Wester, a board member of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance. “We knew we would miss the very unique atmosphere of the conservatory ... [which offers] rooms of beautiful plants and flowers, and some that are nearly 100 years old. This event space would have to offer something different.” One perk of the new location was a larger capacity. While only 200 guests can fit inside the conservatory, this year's event had more than 300 and raised $80,000, a 75 percent increase over last year's take. 

Planners added a band to the cocktail reception, which took place on the first floor of the raw West Loop venue, and also introduced an “Iron Florist” presentation. The competition let two volunteer horticulturalists create bouquets using flowers and fauna found in a mystery box that was presented to them on site. The bouquets were later auctioned off during the live auction. 

Decor for the cocktail hour was sleek and minimal, with a red, white, and black color scheme. Event Creative designer Meredith Treinen aimed to bring in subtle touches of the conservatory by winding ivy through chandeliers and displaying projections on the walls that showcased footage from the conservatory's interior.

During the fashion show, which took place on a T-shaped runway upstairs—Treinen chose the configuration so that all guests could see the runway despite columns in the space—staffers flipped the downstairs space to ready it for the after-party. With desserts, colored lights, and a DJ, “the [after-party] space and feel and atmosphere was very positive,” said Wester. 

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