The participants in our floral design contest Isn't She Loverly: Design in Bloom will unveil their arrangements for judging on Friday, November 30th! As we approach that day, we are excited to post reflections on the process from several of the participating florists. Here we feature Daniel Espejel of Flowers by Daniel, L.L.C., who has been paired with the finale dress that Karla Mosley wore in Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies.
I grew up loving fashion, a passion of mine since I was a kid marveling at the way my grandmother turned plain fabric into beautiful dresses. So when I first found out about Isn’t She Loverly: Design in Bloom, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it. What a great opportunity to merge my two passions, fashion and flowers! My dress was worn by Karla Mosley in the 2009-2010 production of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies. While I was excited to have the beautiful sequenced halter dress, I began pondering how I would depict the dazzling material into flowers.
Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies is a musical celebrating the life and art of Duke Ellington, stretching from the roaring 20’s to present-day. The production follows the Duke's journey from his hometown of Washington, D.C. to New York, his international tour, and returns to Washington, D.C. where his legacy is kept alive.This is a long period of time, with ever changing fashions and styles. My dress was worn in the closing number of the play, which depicted present-day.
My research went right to the costume department and crew of the production. There I discovered costume designer Reggie Ray. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, he received his education from Virginia Marti School of Fashion Design, the Cleveland Institute of Arts, and the ”University Without Walls” program at Howard University. Ray’s emphasis was placed on pattern drafting, cutting, draping, tailoring and fashion illustration. As soon as I discovered the sketches he created for the play, I immediately knew how I was going to bring my project alive. Reggie Ray’s drawings are bold, sensual, elegant and dynamic. Since I worked for a brief period of time helping on window displays at the now gone Woodward and Lothrop department store while attending college, I wanted to create a mannequin of sorts out of an unconventional material that will represent a fashion sketch in 3D, a dancing “Sophisticated Lady.” Driving around DC on a windy afternoon, seeing the trees swaying in the wind almost devoid of leaves with their limbs in constant movement, I thought wire will be the perfect material to create my design. I nicknamed my form “Karla” in honor of Karla Mosley.
Now to the flowers, I needed a flower that will have clusters of blooms in different shades to represent the many sequences in the gown (hint). I also decided to create a head piece to tie it all together. My project is coming along beautifully and I am very excited on the work I am creating. Once it is completed I hope everybody loves it too.