Undeniably, I have one THE BEST jobs in the world. I spend my days looking at beautiful things, hiking trails with my dog and driving down side streets waiting to be inspired, making floral arrangements... all day, dreaming about colors, petals, berries, leaves and stems. When my big dreams took a detour (including having to make a big move with my children without my husband during a pandemic just before finishing building the house of our dreams), I found myself isolated, quiet and down. When the invitation came to compete in the Iron Floral Competition in Buckhead at the Cathedral of St. Phillip, I jumped in head first and said, yes.
Fairytales do come true... this timely-ness of this timeless Flower Festival in the Empire City of the South is all the proof you need!
It's true, I'm always looking for ways to stay connected to my industry, and challenge myself creatively but honestly when I answered the call from Laura from Faith Flowers to be a part of this event. I had no idea it's beyond dazzling. If I'm being sincere, at that time I was kind-of-down and didn't know a thing about it. After-all, the move to Atlanta was a one of hope that my husband and I chose to make in hope our children would have more opportunities as dyslexic learners than our hometown is able to provide. This is how 5 people in every class of 20 learns, and pretty much how our whole families learn so it surprising we'd need to go to such lengths. The Schenck School, the Swift School and Saint Francis Schools were amazing!
But, I still missed home.
Feeling a million miles from everywhere in a place I don't know a soul, I signed onto the project blindly for fun and to support Laura whom I met years ago on a trip to New York City with the Chapel Designers. It is to my surprise this event is actually right. up. my. alley. the way it shows a quiet and deep appreciation of all the things I admire like: charity, interior design, antiques, flowers and the city of Atlanta. Who knew, I'd recognize things and people that I know and celebrate!
The classic and elegant event stands the test of time. In fact, since it's founding in 1969 over $50 million has been raised for Atlanta-area philanthropy. I am humbled by the opportunity to be included in the Flower Festival part of this fabulous Atlanta tradition where quality and variety reign supreme.
I delighted in discovering this cool piece of authentic local culture where design vignettes took center stage on the show floor. It is a fresh look at how the city's top designers integrate antiques with today's lifestyle; and the house tour and flower festival. It is ah-mazing!
Meeting Zach Jones in person at the Flower Festival at the Cathedral Antiques Show has kept me captivated by Bearded Bouquet - to this day!
The couple Putnam & Putnam conjure fantastical and unexpected compositions that break the mold, with me in the middle.
Watch: Cathedral Antiques Show returns to Buckhead for 49th year on Fox 5, Atlanta, here.
Really, What is the Cathedral Antiques Show?
So what is the Cathedral Antiques Show, exactly? Well, it’s a lot more than you think. First of all, yes — it’s three full days of shopping from some of the region’s top antique vendors. But it includes a Flower Festival to showcases true masterpieces of floral design and a Tour of Homes, where Atlanta’s most beautiful residences open their doors. Oh, and did I mention the Keynote Speakers? It was headlined by a pair of my television faves — Carson Kressley and Thom Felicia, known for starring in “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Bronson Van Wyck and Putnam & Putnam were in the lecture series, too. Also featured: Atlanta-based architect Stan Dixon and designer Jackye Lanham, and noted silver historian Joseph P. Brady.
“Flowers are a language around the world,” says Darroch Putnam, one-half of floral arranging duo Putnam & Putnam. “We’ve traveled from South America to Europe to Asia, and going to flower markets is always such an opening to the culture that’s there.” Photo: Courtesy of Architectural Digest.
And, the Flower Festival?
The fabulous Flower Festival brings bold florals to the Cathedral. After spending more time being memorized by florals at this event than I should probably admit, I still cannot decide what it is that really draws me to this style. The linens by I Do Linens are stunning, the entire floral plan by Faith Flowers is top notch, the settings by Vintage English Teacup are luscious, the flowers provided by Mayesh Cutflower are refreshing. But, there is something else.
Something in the way the floral arrangements look at you. And the way they look on the the table. It's like watching a garden bloom. And it's beautiful. Putnam & Putnam are NYC’s top floral designers for every occasion, from weddings to fashion presentations, and more. I feel honored to meet them in Atlanta. Okay, star stuck since I'm being honest. Darroch and Michael Putnam’s arrangements are sought for publication in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Veranda, Dior, Cartier, and many other high-profile editorials. Now, I know why! Take further thought into remembering that I told you-- I didn't even realize I'd be stepping into such an alluring affair or or I'd see these fab florals (in a super fun Cathedral) thanks to Laura Iarocci. So, this is all a BIG surprise.
I Do Linens is an Atlanta based woman-owned company that offer a large selection of fashion-forward fabrics and textures in coordinating color palettes that enhance your style. Photos: Courtesy of I Do Linens
Ruthie Butler (left) is an Associate Candidate at Appraisers Association of America. I love circles and the full circle thing is that I have been drawn to Ruthie since we mat an Amy Osaba Flower Workshop years ago. To see her at the Antiques Show at the Cathedral of Saint Phillip is another surprise!
Then, The Iron Shears Competition...
Things heated up as contestants took up our shears. It was wonderful.
When Laura asked the name of whom would be my assistant I was surprised. An assistant? My sister lives four hours away. I don't know a soul in Atlanta. You can feel the excitement bursting from my whole heart when Perryander located a few towns over, in Athens, Georgia replied to my last minute Instagram message that she would drive over and help. She and I met years ago on a photoshoot with succulents and have followed each other online ever since. I did have back up thanks to Steve McKenzie who creates magic at every turn -- just in case my Ligia fell through. I love it when a plan comes together, and it was.
Atlanta flower friends and contestants in the Iron Shears Floral Competition.
This is Laura Iarocci from Faith Flowers. See her LinkedIn, here.
Me as Colonial House of Flowers on the left next to my talented assistant Ligia Perry Alexander as Perryander Studio shearing-it-up on stage, girls!!
Georgia floral icon, Scott Shepherd from the Flower Podcast, on stage with me (middle) and Ligia Perry Alexander (far right). You can listen to my episode on his podcast, here but check out all the episodes. They're very good.
I learned the flower design tournament is wildly popular here in the 'A' as contestants go head-to-head to impress the judges. My assistant, Ligia Alexander, and I put our sharpest blades forward to compete with Ashlye McCormick who creates arrangements dreams are made of, and Katie Benson of Bloom Atlanta who offers up doses of pretty to film sets that'll rock your world. Time to get our that note pad from the closet and listen up. For my team, the heat is on!
Buckets of flowers for contestants were provided by Mayesh Cutflower in Atlanta
Ashlye McCormick (left) very deservingly took home the WIN awarded by Putnam and Putnam.
We clipped through the most important things we could think of when creating floral design in short time in front of a Cathedral size audience. Ligia and I's composition is one for the books. With breathtaking tulips and precious roses the vase had an abundance of style. We didn't win but came in a very strong second, friends! We found ourself in the middle of all the fun and every magical moment of the Iron Shears Competition is filed away in the happy folder of my mind of things I am so glad I have done. It made me feel welcome in Atlanta and among so many flower friends that until now, I didn't realize were close by.
I didn't know it at the time but I'd be making a hard decision later that year. We'd close the doors of the iconic, original brick and mortar part of the Colonial House of Flowers shop down in south Georgia to move to the city permanently in August of that year. Since this time, life and business have flourished in ways I could've never dreamed and if you knew the details of that move it's sure to be one to pull on your heart. The invitation to include me in this tradition in Buckhead at the Antique Show at Cathedral of St. Phillip by my friend Laura captures every happy feeling.
Looking back I believe it is all a foreshadowing 'Welcome to Atlanta' in a style that's every bit a fairy tale for a florist!
What's the Deal With the Show Proceeds?
The proceeds benefited Moving in the Spirit, a nonprofit that provides creative youth development programs in Atlanta. “We use the art of dance to create measurable, positive change for hundreds of young people,” Dana Lupton, its CEO, artistic director and co-founder, said, "the funds from (the show) will impact our organization dramatically.” These (show) proceeds go toward general operations, to help pay for teachers, and as they move to a new, bitter location "it’s going to help us transition really beautifully in a way with grace and inspiration,” she says.
Moving in the Spirit is moved its headquarters from the J.P. Sims Recreation Center in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward to a space near the Edgewood-Candler Park MARTA Station. The better accessed new location makes easier which attracts new dancer.
The group was thrilled thrilled to be the chosen organization they sprinkled in fun surprises (with dance performances) through this entire experience.
My Thoughts: Keep the little black dress in your closet!
If you're attending the Cathedral Antiques Show here are some fashion tips: make sure you are comfortable because there's a lot to walk around and see. Since it's in the winter in the south long sleeves (or short!) are appropriate. You can leave your earth tones at home. Don't wear your favorite little black dress! Unless it has personality, of course. Mixing and matching colors, and alines and vintage with trendy is okay. Feel free to make a statement, with every last detail of the event captivating
I feel like modest flamboyancy is encouraged. Remember to accessorize, too. The fine points are what give this show its charisma so, if you want to, this is the time to go all out. After all, this event was headlined by a pair of television big-names— Carson Kressley and Thom Felicia, both of whom bring “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” it's esteem.
Trends come and go but the the sculpted femininity, clean and dramatic lines, sophistication and beauty of Valentino nourishes my creativity so I wore it. I love Valentino and only can justify wearing it for something special. Drawn to the rebellious way the traditional Italian tailoring brings texture and almost minimal looks to contemporary fashion can be sedating to me. It's relaxing while interesting.
Valentino is known for simply re-writing its codes within the context of a changing world—innovating and modernizing without losing the essence of history. I strive for this approach to floral artistry.. You can always count on impeccable craftsmanship and uniqueness. an emotional charge and visual seduction from Valentino and that's inpspiring. I chose a Valentino Silk mini-dress that I feel like reflects Colonial House of Flowers heritage with the mood of the moment. A paired the thigh-skimming silhouette of the swing cut dress with Sarah Blakely's, Atlanta-based Spanx that I found at my favorite little shop in Roswell: Linen & Flax. The monochrome colorway went well with new oversized earrings from Anthropologie and my trusty nude JCrew Audrey flats. Being romantic means also not following the rules, embracing idealism, being rebellious—fighting for a better world. I like to think of my floral art as moody and romantic, country and couture, I felt like this look may have served a certain '60s vibe that I feel like is cohesive with my floral compositions.
For more information on the show visit www.cathedralantiques.org.