Fleur De Villes, Learning Tropical Nouveau
Bloomin' Biz

Fleur De Villes, Learning Tropical Nouveau

Florists Learn Art of Tropical Nouveau

 Three experienced floral designers are working to break the stigma of mixing tropical and temperate flowers within the same arrangement. Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, EMC, Neville MacKay, CAFA, PFCI, and Heather DeKok, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, brought their floral design expertise to DeKok’s studio in Edmonton through the two-day NeoTropica Hawaii Open House & Design Program, March 24-25.

Tropical Nouveau

“The response was overwhelmingly fantastic,” Gilliam said. Around 60 attendees participated in the event. “The audience loved all the ideas and loved the flower selection. There were so many items that they had never seen.”

Over the last 10 years, Gilliam recognized that the popularity of wild, garden-like flower design pushed tropical/temperate floral arranging out of the scene, and she is working to bring the style, called Tropical Nouveau, back into the limelight. She hosts an annual conference in Kona, Hawaii.

Tropical Nouveau

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The event, the first of its kind in Canada, included a meet and greet with the designers as well as a thorough educational program, which elaborated on the philosophy and mechanics of Tropical Nouveau, tropical flower care, and information on how to directly ship tropical products from Hawaii.

During his presentation, MacKay focused on describing the emotional impact of tropical flowers, and how it is possible to evoke feelings of nostalgia for vacations past through the use of these flowers mixed with more romantic, “soft” blooms like roses and hydrangeas.


Mannequin Floral Design Series Breathes New Life into Shopping Malls

Fleurs de Villes returned this spring, with stops in Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. The four-year-old series, which features mannequins elaborately decorated with floral couture, expanded with the help of Ivanhoé Cambridge, said co-founders Karen Marshall and Tina Barkley.

Fleurs de Villes


This year, visitors saw mannequins dressed to the nines in flowers that mimicked Celine Dion’s architectural white gown from American Billboard Awards; Jennifer Lopez’s scandalously low cut Versace number from the 2000 Grammys, and even Meghan Markle’s wedding dress.

“Floral designer Cory Christopher has undertaken the challenge to recreate Meghan Markle’s wedding dress for the late May show and will have just 10 days after the wedding to pull it off,” said Marshall. “We are holding our breath on that one!”Fleurs de Villes

For the spectators, Fleurs de Villes is a way for shoppers to take a break from their busy schedules and mundane activities to take in the beauty of nature. For the florists who arrange the elaborate designs, it allows them to showcase their creative freedom.

Fleurs de Villes

“Their mannequin design can be full of whimsy or based on reality —think haute couture reinterpreted in flowers,” Marshall said. “Visitors to the malls are astounded by what they see. What started as a routine shopping trip has stopped them in their tracks.”

The goal for Fleurs de Villes, the co-founders said, is to combine the worlds of both the floral and fashion industries to support small businesses across Canada. By bridging the two avenues, Marshall and Barkley have succeeded in fostering a new platform for florists and growers alike, promoting the beauty of floral design in unlikely places.

Fleurs de Villes

Spectators and florists have the opportunity to participate further in the event by voting for their favourite designs. Ninety florists participated in this year’s events, which all included a fresh flower market.

Fleurs de Villes

“This is a true celebration of floral talent in Canada,” Marshall said. “People need something to inspire them, something to visually embrace, share, and generally just make them feel good. Flowers have that magical quality.



Mackenzie Nichols
Mackenzie Nichols is a freelance writer and experienced floral designer.

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