by Patricia Guthrie
Florists rarely get a stage bigger than a vase to show off their eye and artistry. And their fanfare is usually limited to an audience of one.
But earlier this month, thousands of people admired a fresh dress of flowers and fauna, Billy Balls and pampas grass created by the owner of San Juan Island’s Apotheca Design, Kara Natalia Navradszky.
She was one of ten florists invited to the pop up show, Fleurs de Villes, staged at the recent Northwest Flower & Garden Festival at the Washington State Convention.
“I love the show and hope Fleurs de Villes takes hold as a tradition,” she said. “It elevates the art and is well worth the effort.”
She estimated it took 15 hours to create her latest floral wearable dress, which was her sixth mannequin marvel.
For five days, 10 mannequins, draped in fabulous fresh floral gowns and other eye-popping botanical beauties, bathed in the skybridge light above downtown Seattle, looking like a still life fashion show.
Less than 24 hours before the Festival opened, Navradszky carefully placed some of her “fabric” — St. John’s wort, Larkspur delphinium, and yellow stiff flowers known as Billy Balls— onto her entry called “The Get Together” mannequin.
“She’s going to be my flower hippy Mama,” she said, fiddling with Hypericum berry branches.
Navradszky, who’s owned Apotheca Design since 2014, said the idea came to her one afternoon listening to her favorite music.
“I sort of went down a rabbit hole. I played a song I loved and I said ‘That’s it.’”
The song is “Get Together” by Chet Powers, an iconic song performed at Woodstock by the Youngbloods. The chorus is an anthem of a generation: ‘C’mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together try to love one another right now.’
“I had originally thought of doing a bit more stylish piece but I was overwhelmed with feelings of the strain that covid has had on our community,” Navradszky recalled. “I thought maybe a rebellious vintage piece that reminded us of community in solidarity would be more appropriate for this time.”
Two years ago, Navradszky created a wedding dress for the inaugural Fleurs de Villes at the NW Flower and Garden Festival, the second-largest garden show in the nation.
This year, the floral art organizers aligned with non-profit Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center to help raise funds for breast cancer research. Some of the outfits reflected the “ROSE” theme of fighting and surviving cancer, such as a dress made of the strongest tree — bamboo — and the glorious flowing gown of pink roses and white statice worn by Glinda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz — who, like Fred Hutch, helps those in need — according to its placard description.
Navradszky recently crafted several other floral fashions on display at downtown Seattle’s Pacific Place mall for Valentine’s week.
Fleurs de Villes co-founder Tina Barkley, based in Vancouver, B.C., said the next floral art installations are scheduled in Miami and Melbourne, Australia.