“New floral designers attend established show and offer fresh point of view.”

Anyone who has ever stepped foot on the grounds of Alden Biesen Castle in Bilzen, Belgium, during Fleuramour, has experienced magic. This year’s annual international floral extravaganza was held Sept. 27-30, 2019 and saw the emergence of a new group of floral artists.

Floral design by Solomon Leong, AIFD, Ph.D.; Hong Kong

Floral design by Jacques Castagné, Cédric Exare and Annick Mosconi; France

Floral design by Anca Ungureanu, Romania

Floral design by Chantal Post, Belgium

Chapel Designers’ fashion show
(Photo by Suzie Kostick, AIFD, PFCI, CF)

“Thirty percent of our designers this year were new designers to the Castle,” shares Fleuramour Art Director Regine Motmans, EMC. “Some designers might have assisted others or visited in the past, but this year, they’re leading teams and designing rooms,” she says. “They really focused on the theme of “Back to the Future,” and brought a more refined and different touch than in past years.”

Expecting a certain level of craftsmanship and mechanics indicative of European floral design, this set of new wide-eyed floral Picassos was pleasantly surprised with what they encountered.

“With both the public and floral community here, there is a true love and respect of flowers,” explains Lea Romanowski, AIFD, CAFA, owner of Designing on the Edge in Calgary, Alta., Canada, and a team member of Canadian Moat Design. Her trip to Fleuramour was her maiden voyage to Europe. First-timer Solomon Leong, AIFD, Ph.D., owner of Solomon Bloemen in Hong Kong, reflects, “What is truly mind-boggling is the public’s attention to details. So many people examined my piece, dissecting it, and they got the message. They were not just commenting on it being pretty.”

For the 20-plus team members of Chapel Designers from the United States and Europe, this event was a new experience. Drafted to produce eight floral fashion shows in four days, Holly Heider Chapple, founder of Chapel Designers in Leesburg, Va.; Helen Miller, AIFD, CAFA, CF, owner of Flowers & Such of Adrian, Mich.; Françoise Weeks, owner of Françoise Weeks European Floral Design in Portland, Ore.; Katie Noonan, AIFD, owner of Noonan’s Wine Country Designs in San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Susan McLeary, owner of Passionflower in Ann Arbor, Mich; and Suzie Kostick, AIFD, PFCI, CF, retail sales specialist for Smithers-Oasis Company, stepped outside their comfort zones and embraced the European floral experience.

“The public really appreciates the floral art presented on this stage,” comments McLeary, adding, “There is a plasticity, a relaxed attitude here, which, as a designer, you need to be aware of and work within.”

With a genuine sense of every designer wanting his or her comrades to succeed, these new commoners found a floral home – a shared feeling of camaraderie and shared interest.

“It was so amazing to walk around and learn from each designer,” smiles Melani Nemeskovic, CAFA, CFD, from Kitchener, Ont., Canada, and part of the Canadian Moat Team. “They are the floral artists I have been following on social media, but when you are with them at Fleuramour, you realize they are people just like you and me. I have found new friends.” For Miller, “I was star-struck with all the international designers I’ve seen on Instagram. It was amazing to be able to talk to them in person about their designs.”

“The community here has embraced this event,” explains Kostick. “To have access to such global talent is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” An opportunity Leong recommends with a big smile: “If you are a floral artist, you need to do this at least once in your lifetime!”