Garfield Park Conservatory's Fleurotica 2013: Fantastic Flowery Fashions (Video!)

Garfield Park Conservatory's Fleurotica 2013 was a visual feast at the MCA with almost 500 stylish guests in attendance on Wednesday, June 12. Co-chaired by Deirdre Koldyke, Whitney Lasky and Shauna Montgomery, this "haute" fashion show featured flowery designs by 30 of Chicago's top floral and landscape artists. It was thrilling to go behind the scenes and see the hard work the designers were pouring into their creations. I saw popular designer Drew Holitik with his design inspired by strong women and titled "This Women's Work". It featured bleached magnolia leaves, orchids and garden roses. Another favorite floral design house, H. Bloom, offered a piece inspired by the fragrance family of Fougere (fern in French). Designers Jenny DeMuth and Kyle Hustedt utilized ferns as a base with orchids and roses for their stunning creation. Anna Held designers Laura Daluga and Brian Skiel's design was titled "Weeping Willow" and was inspired by their love of avante garde fashion and science fiction. My dear friend, Jeff Jonen, was representing Mariano's along with designers Rebecca Eckblad and Jose Llera. Inspired by the Gatsby era, their stunning creation included more than 400 cala lilies! The winning design, judged by Costume Council president Nena Ivon, Factor Model's Bridget Halanski and couturier Sam Kori George, was Scarlet Petal. Designer Sarah Anderson's ballgown, titled "Mucha in the Fern Room", was inspired by 19th century illustrator Alphonse Mucha and was an elegant sea of green ferns complete with a flowing 10 foot fern train.

 Many of the guests wore inspired fashions in keeping with the evening's floral theme and included Kristina McGrath, Liz Ryan, Michaela Parrillo, Shelley Farley, Barry Montgomery, Olga Ruda, Suzie and Ross Glickman, Morris Gearring, Toni Canada, Rebecca Besser, Rachel and James De Marte, Stacy Saltzman, Lauren Wyka, Julie Latsko, Scott Bobek, Sophie Bross, Joan Colmar, Helen Melchior, Shawna Owen, Shellie Thompson, Jeanouche Wopinski and Amy Rule among many others.

 The evening also honored the founding members of the Board of Directors for the Garfield Park Conservatory Gwendolyn Rogers, Rev. Eudora Ramey, Jackie McCay and Mary Nelson. A multi-media presentation by local artist duo Luftwerk, with filmmaker Nick Martin opened the show and featured a video showing the Conservatory as seen from a child's eyes. Martin thanked co-chair Whitney Lasky in the program book for her "inspired concept" for the child's journey. (Way to go Whit!)

 Another highlight of the show was Meredith Montgomery, Shauna's 13 year old daughter, who glided down the runway as "Infinite Beauty." (And she is!) Performance artist/models were langorously draped on brass beds while models dressed in designs courtesy of Neiman Marcus with jewels by Coomi lined the stairwells. Eunita Rushing, president of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, spoke movingly about how important the Conservatory is to the communities and that 165,000 people visit this award winning Chicago treasure yearly. The Conservatory received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in 2012, the nation's highlight honor conferred for service to the community. The gala grossed approximately $200,000 for the Conservatory which is still rebuilding after 2011 storm and hail damage. (For more info and how you can donate, visit (Fab fotos by Mila Samokhina!)  Watch312 video and photos below!

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