Words By Jura Koncius, The Washington Post
When then-first lady Michelle Obama wanted hibiscus garlands for a Korean state dinner, the fresh blossoms proved too fragile to string together. So artist Livia Cetti was tapped to create gorgeous garlands of paper blooms to adorn the White House. No longer the pariahs of decor, fake flowers are showing up at some of the best addresses.
In the past few years, consumers have embraced artificial flowers, unapologetically welcoming the silk, polyester or poly-blend version of succulents, orchid plants and hydrangea bouquets into their homes. Although they might have once carried a stigma, perhaps harking back to a dusty arrangement on a grandmother’s coffee table, the tide has turned, thanks to modern materials and more sophisticated designs.
Decorators and design bloggers feature faux flowers in their projects and on social media. Retailers are selling individual faux blooms as well as prearranged mixed bouquets and planters. Design bloggers, who are always photographing their own spaces and looking for ways to add colour and interest, have hastened the flowering of faux.
‘I don’t have the money for fresh flowers in every corner,’ says blogger Emily A. Clark. ‘This gives the look and feel of it. I have five kids to water and feed. I don’t need anything with more maintenance right now.’ Incorporating faux flowers hasn’t stirred her readers. ‘I hardly have anyone call me out on it,’ she says. ‘Some people are still against it, but I’m over it.’
‘People want to have the fresh-flower look in their home,’ says Donna Garlough, style director for Joss & Main.These let them get the look without the expense or the maintenance.’ Garlough says that although single branches and sprigs are still popular, Joss & Main is seeing increased interested in pre-arranged centrepieces.
‘There’s a lot of cool stuff out there, from faux tulips in Mason jars to faux succulents in sculptural organic vessels,’ she says. Garlough says arrangements are popular for second homes: ‘Who wants to arrive at a vacation home and be greeted by dead flowers?’
Although there’s no watering, artificial flowers need care. Garlough says that when you unwrap them, ‘they need a bit of ‘zhuzhing,’ but so do real flowers.’ So move them around a bit and fluff out the branches if needed. To keep silk or synthetic arrangements dust-free, you can clean gently with a soft, dry cloth or use the small brush attachment of your vacuum. Cetti advises keeping paper flowers out of direct sun and high-humidity areas. A blow-dryer can be used to get the dust off.
Images: Kate Mathis