The Renaissance of Wearable Flowers

By Molly Lucille

Presented by Boutstix Magnets

Throughout history, people have adorned themselves with flowers. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans adorned their champions and gods with head wreaths of blossoms, laurel and olive; Polynesian explorers introduced the tradition of the lei to ancient Hawaiians; the Ukrainian vinok, elaborate floral headdresses once associated with marriage, virginity and womanhood, are still worn today on festive occasions and holy days. In Hindu cultures, Jaimala (or Varmala) rituals are practiced at the beginning of wedding ceremonies, where couples adorn each other with lavish garlands of flowers. Queen Victoria wore a crown of orange blossoms in her hair on her wedding day in 1840.

This incredible, expansive history is always shifting and evolving, with floral designers across centuries experimenting with new techniques for wearing flowers. Expanding beyond tradition and religion, today wearable flowers are taking center stage at red-carpet events, in haute couture and weddings, and beyond. Designers around the globe are taking on wearables as a platform for experimentation, curiosity and play in the medium of flowers.

Fae Floral August Nyson Photography

The explosion of creativity in wearables is expanding how clients are wearing and purchasing blooms. As these new ideas are shared and explored by floral designers, the more clients are open to moving beyond traditional boutonnières and corsages, and expanding into flowered lapels, pocket squares and epaulets; flowered veils; flower “tattoos;” flower crowns and much more.

Boutonnières have long been the standard for suits, tuxedos and dinner jackets, and while they are timeless go-tos, the classic jacket is due for a floral update; pocket squares, lapel flowers and floral epaulettes are becoming more popular, as illustrated by the examples on these pages from Pomp and Splendour in Brunswick East (Melbourne) and Byron Bay, Australia, and Yellow Twist Floral Design in Scarborough, Maine, following the fashion trends of structured shoulders and bold statement pieces.

lapel flowers
Yellow Twist Floral Design-Emily Delamater Photography
Pomp and Splendour - Kyra Boyer Photography
Pomp and Splendour – Kyra Boyer Photography
Pomp and Splendour - Kyra Boyer Photography
Pomp and Splendour – Kyra Boyer Photography

This trend is at the forefront of this dreamy “Marie Antoinette meets Malibu Barbie” pink wedding, designed by Dawn Weisberg of Tularosa Flowers and Farm in Fallbrook, Calif., with planner CMG Weddings & Events. The couple, wedding photographers themselves with Tay Danay Photography, wanted something fresh and unexpected, and they gave the Tularosa team full creative freedom with their florals. Weisberg surprised them with a lush flower lapel for Shelby, created with Ranunculus, ‘Majolika’ spray roses, and deconstructed hyacinth and Dianthus petals. For Tayler, Weisberg took the concept of a flower crown and elevated it to the next level, creating a custom headdress with a soft blush veil with a built-in crown, and raining petals and blooms down the entirety of the cathedral length veil.

“Wearable flowers hold a special place in my heart,” Weisberg explains. “Before starting my floral and event design company, I worked as a costume designer for film and television for 20 years. The combination of creating one-of-a-kind floral pieces that are wearable brings both of my passions together.”

Photographer Le Vie Photography @levie_photography
Florists Tularosa Flowers @tularosaflowers
Planner CMG Weddings and Events @cmg_events
Photographer Le Vie Photography @levie_photography Florists Tularosa Flowers @tularosaflowers Planner CMG Weddings and Events @cmg_events

When designing wearables, Weisberg advises, “Make sure that all of your flower heads or petals have been processed, hydrated and placed into a hydration chamber for a minimum of 24 hours. I use OASIS Floral Adhesive to secure the flowers onto the fabric. For a lapel or tie,” she continues, “I use a heavyweight nonwoven fabric in a similar color to the flowers, such as felt, for the base of the wearables that are being applied to an item of clothing. Once the piece is created, I place it back into the hydration chamber until packing it up for the event.” Floral magnets, such as those offered by BoutStix and Fitz Design, are useful in adhering flower designs to fabrics, especially in the case of rental suits or fine fabrics that pins would damage.

lapel flowers
Photographer Le Vie Photography @levie_photography Florists Tularosa Flowers @tularosaflowers Planner CMG Weddings and Events @cmg_events

Innovation can happen only from experimentation, and wearable flowers provide floral designers with amazing opportunities for innovative thinking and unconventional techniques. Incredible things can be created with very few blooms or with foraged/found materials. Hamish Powell, owner of Hamish Powell Studio in London, England, is one such innovator. Powell’s designs exist where fine art and floristry meet, creating otherworldly designs out of intricately and delicately woven blooms.

“Florists are artists,” Powell states. “We’re set builders, product stylists and accessory designers. We are using a medium to create something visually stimulating. There is so much delicacy, intricacy, experimentation and inspiration that is possible with flowers.”

Powell’s work was recently featured at Paris Fashion Week with London womenswear designer Sohee Park, known as “Miss Sohee,” creating spectacular monobotanical wearables to frame model’s faces, combining beautifully with the bold lines and colors of the clothing.

Hamish Powell Orchid mask fashion show: @miss sohee
Hamish Powell Orchid mask fashion show: @miss sohee

Powell’s work goes beyond high fashion, into wearables that critique and challenge the ephemeral nature of fast fashion with a lush outfit designed entirely out of daffodils, all grown by Powell. “A fundamental intention in my wearables, as with a lot of my other work, is to alter people’s perception of what floristry is. I see a renaissance of floral referencing in the fashion industry, and more and more designers will implement fresh flower wearables as an extra touch of luxury, naturalistic appreciation and novelty.”

When asked where he draws his inspiration, Powell explains, “If I’m designing a floral wearable, I might draw reference from an archival runway look, mixed with the shape of an oil puddle I saw in the street and the color palette of a stranger’s outfit I saw on the train. Also, I keep going back to a National Geographic article I read that featured close-up images of insects. Some of the color combos and patterns are too incredible.”

suit made of daffodils
Hamish Powell
Photo @otto.masters

Powell also draws inspiration from floral artist, educator and author Susan McLeary, a.k.a. Passionflower Sue, in Ann Arbor, Mich., who has been a prolific innovator in the world of wearable flowers. I, too, have been deeply inspired by her work, recently creating this wearable out of real butterfly wings and preserved sponge mushrooms and moss, using techniques shared by McLeary.

“I think of wearables as little expressions of art.” explains McCleary. “Sometimes they are practical and salable; other times, more experimental and avant-garde. They serve to draw the public in and make them more curious about what florists are capable of. They also serve florists by allowing us to create works that feed our creativity and spark our curiosity. I love creating wearables that serve two purposes—typically, headpieces that can also be carried as bouquets. This playful approach has sparked a lot of creative exploration for me, and it’s something I love to share with students.”

modern floral headdress
Susan McLeary

Sophie Powell, owner of U.FL.O (Unidentified Floral Object) in London, England, got her start designing wearables with curiosity and play at her heart. “I have spent about three years making crowns out of leftover flowers from other jobs, and I also love to forage for unusual stems,” she shares. “Now, when I see something really interesting, I pop it on my head and hope people like it! When traveling, I visit local flower markets and get creative in my hotel room. In Mexico, I made a couple from Nopalea cactus and hoja santa leaves that were super fun.” Inspiration truly can be found anywhere and everywhere.

floral headdress
Sophie Powell

As we weave, craft and play with wearable flowers, we are following a long line of floral designers spanning centuries, cultures and traditions. The world of wearables is full of opportunities to create, collaborate and innovate, expanding beyond the traditional and into the unknown. The practice of curiosity and exploration is fundamental for breaking beyond your comfort zone and finding a playfulness in your craft, which can positively impact all your designing, from wearables to bouquets.

Floral design is an art form, and designers from any segment of the industry can benefit from taking time to be curious and explore. The willingness to explore with new materials, deconstructing blooms to discover what can be found within, can expand your mind greatly and bring exciting new creations.

Naomi read- Thorne Floral- purse with tulips
Naomi read- Thorne Floral

Wearable Flowers Resources for those who want to explore more


The Art of Wearable Flowers

     By Susan McLeary

Colour My World: Joy, Creativity, and a Life Surrounded by Flowers

     By Julia Rose

Flowers to Wear: The Fascination of Floral Couture

     By Julia Marie Schmitt, AIFD, EMC, ICPF

Fresh Floral Jewelry: Creating Wearable Art with Wendy Andrade

     By Wendy Andrade, NDSF, AIFD, FBFA

Floral Accessories: Creative Designs with Wendy Andrade

     By Wendy Andrade, NDSF, AIFD, FBFA


• Susan McLeary/Passionflower Sue

• Françoise Weeks

• U.FL.O (Unidentified Floral Object)


• Françoise Weeks

• Julia Rose

• U.FL.O (Unidentified Floral Object) Flower School