The German Order of Teutonic Knights probably weren’t thinking of flowers when they established the Alden Biesen Castle, in 1220.  

The people of Belgium with a passion for flowers are very glad they did! Almost 800 years later, this international cultural center has become the annual site of Fleuramour.

Photos: Suzie Kostick

Fleuramour is a four-day flower festival that recently played host to 20 countries, 100 international designers, 15,000 attendees and 140,000 beautiful flowers.

The world-famous public event has been produced by Fleur Creatif for 24 years. The 2019 event took place September 27 – 30th. The year 2020 will be the event’s 25th anniversary.

Have you visited Fleuramour? Or, do you follow the event online? How can you scale the showcased designs to fit your floral business?

Suzie Kostick AIFD, CF, PFCI participated this year. Take a look at the inspiring photos of innovative designs she discovered there.

Loved by the locals

The yearly event is clearly loved by the locals. The entire town gets involved with creating the large floral installation installed at the Bilzen City Hall on castle grounds.

Photos: Suzie Kostick

Festival-goers experience daily design demonstrations, a floral couture fashion show, hands-on workshops and local vendors selling floral supplies, flower bulbs, garden items, books, food, and even a virtual flower world.

Bring a rain coat and umbrella. This awe-inspiring event takes place rain or shine.

Despite some days of rain during set up and shows, this year’s outdoor display teams took the wind and water in stride. It didn’t keep attendees from enjoying the floral extravaganza. 👍👍. Perhaps that’s part of the party!

“Our motto became… ‘it may not go smoothly but it will go well,” shares Suzie Kostick.

Hat Day

Hat Day at the festival is an amazing experience. At least 40-50% of the spectators wear hats they make from flowers or plants in the hopes of winning a first-place prize.

Photos: Suzie Kostick

“The Hat Parade was beautiful to see,” says Suzie. “It was incredible to see how creative and well done the designs were. It blew me away!”

Sharing great products

Smithers-Oasis Belgium is the largest hard-good supplier and supporter of this impressive event. They, along with Smithers-Oasis US, also provided products for the floral couture fashion show.

Photos: Suzie Kostick

Suzie Kostick, a sales service specialist for Smithers-Oasis North America, participated as part of a six-member US team lead by Holly Heider Chapple. The team included Katie Noonan AIFD, Helen Miller AIFD, Susan McLeary, and Francoise Weeks.

Photos: Suzie Kostick

Design Days

This year’s design team experienced four very full design days of preparation prior to the event. They worked into the wee hours of the morning on a couple of nights just to complete their designs.

Photo: Suzie Kostick

This US team was commissioned to present eight floral couture fashion shows.

  • 24 unique styles were created.
  • The fashion show ran twice a day for four consecutive days.
  • Each designer created four different couture looks.

 “Each day we had to refresh or re-do many of the designs,” explains Suzie.

200 tubes of floral adhesives were used to create and maintain the designs. Gallons of the anti-transparent Finishing Touch were used to keep displays fresh.

With a lot to do in a short space of time, extra hands were needed during the hectic 10 to 12-hour design days.

The US team felt fortunate to be assisted by Mike Boerma and Anjelica Van Hijkoop from the Boerma Institute in Holland. “They were an all-around blessing to us!” says Suzie.

They also appreciated the assistance of ten volunteer Chapple Designers. “They were as much a part of the fashion show’s success as the six lead designers,” Suzie adds. 

Magic Mushroom

Each designer brought their unique perspective and creativity to the table. “At times it was creative overload with all the ideas flying around,” says Suzie.

Photos: Suzie Kostick

On one trip to the local hardware store, Susan McLeary yelled “Stop the car! I see something that Francoise has to have.” Seconds later she emerged from a roadside ditch with the biggest mushroom they had ever seen.

“How did she spot that mushroom while we’re zooming down the road?” laughs Suzie. “The magical headpiece Francoise created with it was stunning.”

Overcoming the unknown in a new design space is always a challenge.

Meeting the challenge

“The anticipation of not knowing what to expect made us all a little anxious,” shares Suzie. Once the team had arrived everything soon fell into place.

Photos: Suzie Kostick

Workrooms become a Masterclass when talented designers join forces. “We inspired each other and made changes based on what we were learning from others,” shares Suzie.

“No one was the wiser when ‘Plan A or B’ progressed to ‘Plan Q’ but it all came together and we were really proud of what we did,” says Suzie.

“Most of us came prepared with some items that we wanted to use,” she continues.  Several brought partially completed pieces that we finished on site. Like this flat balsa swirl that has been secured by rows of tightly wound metallic wire.

Photos: Suzie Kostick

Along with cases and cases of floral foam, an abundance of florist nettingbind wire, rustic bark wire, clear water tubes, cases of Midollino and decorative wires were used in creating the eye-catching designs.

The crescent design above began with two long metal pieces impaled into the wood as a support mechanism. A crescent-shaped metal form established the line of the design.

The inner frame was then covered by moss, aluminum wirebead wire, and topped with fresh white snowberries (Symphoricarpos albus) and Phalaenopsis orchids.

A plethora of equally intricate designs were displayed throughout the castle for visitors to enjoy.

Interested in visiting Fleuramour?

If you’re interested in attending or participating in next year’s event, the dates are September 25 – 28, 2020. Visit the website – https://en.fleuramour.be to see more 2019 photos and watch for 2020 details as they are posted.

Photo: Suzie Kostick

Suzie offers these insider tips for designers aspiring to design at Fleuramour:

“Understanding the expectations, is always a good first step,” she suggests.

  • Familiarize yourself with the event by attending first as a spectator.
  • Connect with organizers to express interest in the invitational event.
  • Offer to assist a commissioned designer or participating exhibit group.
  • Remember things happen and work differently in other countries.
  • Be flexible and prepared to adapt quickly.

“It’s volunteer work so be prepared to budget accordingly,” reminds Suzie.

Have you attended Fleuramour? If so, please share your photos or comments below!

Which of the design photos above was your favorite?