At the New York Botanical Garden's Orchid Show, Female Designers Take Root (2024)

Like Olivia Rodrigo and Bella Ramsey, the annual New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show is turning 21 this year, which means it’s time to party. But orchids don’t thrive on shots of Casamigos (don’t ask how I know…), so a different kind of celebration is in order: an over-the-top exhibition at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory called “Florals in Fashion” with installations from designers Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada and Olivia Cheng of Dauphinette, plus late night dance moves with the International House of Miyake Mugler, and sponsorship from storied Parisian perfumer Guerlain.

“Orchids are the divas of the flower kingdom,” says FLWR PSTL (Kristen Alpaugh), an artist and botanical expert whose work is also featured in the show. “Orchids refuse to perform on demand, which makes some people afraid of them. But what’s unique about them is that they have perfect symmetry. I have a very refined eye when it comes to flowers, and the way their petals mirror each other is truly amazing.”

How did the creators make magic without falling into the “florals for spring” trap that’s anything but groundbreaking? “I realized, going into it, that orchids get a lot of acknowledgement for being sensual and dangerous, but not too much for being strong,” says Taymour, who created a series of living, blooming outfits for the show. “Orchids are incredibly willful. They know how they want to grow.” For the exhibit, Taymour built giant pastel creatures (“Not one specific animal—they’re more nuanced than that”) with wide-leg pants made of succulents, and a spiraling gown crafted with fuchsia blooms. Look closely and you’ll notice a bio-silk purse with a toothy clasp that resembles Audrey Two from Little Shop of Horrors.

“I used to wear orchids in my hair for photo shoots,” adds Cheng, “and we used one in the Dauphinette perfume campaign shoot, so they’ve always been integral to the brand. But I didn’t want to go the whole ‘superbloom’ route with my designs, because that felt too obvious,” she explains. “Instead, I was like, ‘What can we do with very arid plants and grasses? That pushed me to think differently about how we use gardens as inspiration. It doesn’t just have to be blossoms everywhere.’” Instead, Cheng wove a series of tillandsias, or air plants, into a bikini top and let her signature lampshade corsets get literally bugged. “Jewel beetles are symbiotic with orchids, and they’re often part of Dauphinette designs,” she says. “It’s the idea of taking something a little creepy and turning it into the most gorgeous thing. Nature does that a lot.”

Dauphinette by Olivia Cheng

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Orchids have long been fashion fuel—remember when Halston spent a reported $4k per month on his pots? But this current moment feels particularly heavy on the Georgia O’Keeffe of it all. Alexander McQueen’s most recent collection boasts orchid intarsia knits and beadwork; Lady Gaga wore one of the brand’s orchid-embroidered gowns to the Maestro premiere in December. Versace’s resort collection is orchid-themed, and Carolina Herrera’s new jewelry offerings are gold-dipped orchid blossoms. (Gild the lily, but make it fashion?) Skims’ latest limited-edition colorway is a vivid pink called Neon Orchid, and of course, Tom Ford’s famous Black Orchid scent continues to dominate Sephora searches. For $16.50, shoppers can score a pair of teal orchid-print socks at the Botanical Gardens themselves.

As for the real deal, FLWR PSTL says they’re not as hard to keep as you’d think. “They’re good without a water source for a minute. The blossoms last a long time. You can take the roots out of the moss, and they’ll be super happy for a whole week and you won’t have to touch them,” she says. The artist describes her piece as a queen called “The Regina” who contains both male and female parts, much like orchids themselves. “The Regina symbolizes prosperity, good luck, and the conclusion of a chapter. I spent my childhood on the East Coast, but I’m not a child anymore…These orchids hold the colors and the joy that I want to take with me into my next chapter.”

“There’s definitely something magical about them,” says Taymour, when asked why fashion keeps coming back to the fussy-but-stunning flower. “I walked into the Botanical Garden space, and it was so warm and quiet, like the orchids had their own planet.” Her designs, she notes, are meant to tell us that we’re on Earth’s turf, and not the other way around. “The orchids remind us that we’re the aliens here,” she says, “and the orchids make the rules.” And also, the dresses.

The Orchid Show: Florals in Fashion runs through April 21 at the New York Botanical Garden. Tickets and information are available at NYBG.org.

At the New York Botanical Garden's Orchid Show, Female Designers Take Root (2024)

FAQs

What is the New York Botanical Garden famous for? ›

NYBG's 250 acres are home to renowned exhibitions, immersive botanical experiences, art and music, and events with some of the most influential figures in plant and fungal science, horticulture, and the humanities. We're also stewards of globally significant research collections, from the LuEsther T.

Is the NYBG orchid show inside? ›

The Orchid Show takes place at the New York Botanical Garden (2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx) inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

Who owns the New York Botanical Garden? ›

The New York Botanical Garden is located on property owned in full by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

How long to spend at Orchid Garden? ›

We recommend setting aside at least two hours for your visit to the National Orchid Garden, as you will have enough time to explore the different exhibits, plants, flowers, archways, and water displays. You may need around three hours to explore the entire Singapore Botanic Gardens.

What is the biggest botanical garden in New York? ›

The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is a botanical garden at Bronx Park in the Bronx, New York City. Established in 1891, it is located on a 250-acre (100 ha) site that contains a landscape with over one million living plants; the Enid A.

What is the most famous botanical gardens in the world? ›

Kew Gardens | London, England

Nowhere does botanical better than Kew Gardens, which boasts the largest and most diverse botanical collections in the world.

How long does it take to walk through the NYBG train show? ›

The trains themselves are G-scale locomotives, these are the largest model trains available and so awesome to watch. We spent over an hour walking through the show watching the trains chug along nearly a half-mile of track.

How much are tickets to NYBG? ›

How much is parking at the New York Botanical Garden? ›

Parking Rates

Up to 1 hour: $9. Up to 2 hours: $11. Up to 12 hours: $15. Up to 24 hours: $32.

What is the New York Botanical Garden ranked? ›

Hitting the second and third spots in the ranking are the New York Botanical Garden, boasted as the Bronx's “living museum,” and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, featuring the celebrated Skyline Garden.

What is the oldest public botanical garden in the United States? ›

Bartram's Garden

This is the oldest surviving botanic garden in the United States. It was founded in 1728 by John Bartram (1699-1777), an early American botanist, explorer, and plant collector.

What is the name of the famous garden in New York City? ›

Central Park, Conservatory Garden.

Is orchid garden indoors? ›

The Orchid Garden is large with a huge assortment of orchids. There are both indoor gardens and outdoor.

How many days do orchids last? ›

Orchid blooms last a long time, usually from six to ten weeks. To maintain bloom for as long as possible, increase sunlight, fertilize weekly, avoid overwatering, and take care to keep the flowers dry. It is important to maintain the right kind of light whether it is bright, indirect or filtered.

How big is orchid garden? ›

The National Orchid Garden is the main attraction within the Botanic Gardens. Located on the mid-western side of the Garden, the hilly three-hectare site has a collection of more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids.

What's the famous garden in New York? ›

New York Botanical Garden

Experience the incredible spring and summer gardens and collections across the 250-acres near the Bronx River.

What is the number one botanical garden in the US? ›

#1 – Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix, Arizona

Today, the site has more than 21,000 plants, over 4,000 taxa, and more than 120 rare species. The extensive collection of agave and cacti make it one of the most unique botanical gardens in the world.

What is the mission of the New York Botanical Garden and how does it fulfill it? ›

As central to its mission, the Garden acts as a responsible steward of its 250-acre landscape; teaches the public about the value and workings of the natural world; explores the benefits that plants provide to humans around the globe; helps to conserve land resources; uses science to study and better understand the ...

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