Faux flowers, real fashion
Floral body adornments are nothing new—look back over history and you’ll find everyone from Aphrodite to Mata Hari to Lana Del Rey with a band of blooms around their heads. In recent days, though, the idea of a flower crown has lost its luster. An association with festival culture took the crown’s positioning from indie to mass market in the drop of a beat. Leave it to Beyoncé, who recently disrupted Coachella with a historic and moving performance, to restore the power of floral headwear.
We asked Johanna Patashnick, a Rochester native and the woman behind the gorgeous paper flower crown featured here, about why artificial flowers get such a negative rap. “Plastic flowers in particular can appear too stiff and fake. The colors used are often too vibrant and harsh, unlike flowers in nature. But crepe paper flowers can be made to look softer and show movement like the petals of live flowers.”
Patashnick mentions how arduous the overall process of creating these flowers is. “I love studying flowers and the challenge of figuring out how to make each feature within each flower’s structure. The experimentation and creative process can take time, but it is exciting and fulfilling. I try to make my flowers realistic, but I use my own interpretation and sometimes add a bit of whimsy. It has been an outlet for my creative energy and each flower is made with love and attention to detail.”
Artificial flowers have a long history in French couture. They were one of the many focuses of Manus x Machina, curator Andrew Bolton’s gorgeous exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Just in time for the first Monday in May, historically focused crepe-paper flora are blooming in the design world as well—from the techie Bay Area to gala-central Manhattan.
In California, 1940s finds—often leftovers from hat-making factories—can still be discovered at stores such as Tail of the Yak, Bell’occhio, and French General. But artificial flowers are not only for vintage aficionados—far from it. The crème de la cutting-edge crème of design boutiques have made them a distinct focus of their current wares. John Derian, founder of an eponymous and successful design company, stocks his shops with paper flowers made by the Green Vase. In Berkeley, California, Castle in the Air sells the work of Lynn Dolan, among others, as well as materials for the crepe paper flower-making classes it offers. Beyond that, faux blooms are becoming more and more available at larger businesses, with One Kings Lane currently stocking hundreds of options.
Patashnick says that wedding season is the perfect time to consider paper blooms. “My largest market has been individuals buying flowers for home decor or gifts for themselves or others. Through craft shows and my Etsy shop, I’ve expanded into the wedding flower market. I’ve created flower bouquets to bring bride’s wedding visions to life. I have also been commissioned to create paper replicas of past wedding bouquets as lasting keepsakes.“
Find Patashnick on Etsy: aforestfern.etsy.com and Instagram: @aforestfern
Photography by Greg Hollar
Words & Styling by Tanvi Asher
Floral Crown by Johanna Patashnick of A Forest Fern
Makeup by Joseph Rothrock &
Hair by Brittnay Snyder for Blush Beauty Bar / 2326 Monroe Ave
Apparel from Salty Boutique / 749 Park Ave
Model: Kerry Lerner
Location: The Inn on Broadway