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Floral Fashion Show Returns to Milwaukee

“Beauty in Bloom” returns to the Milwaukee Art Museum this weekend. The floral fashion show, now in its second year, is Saturday night inside Windhover Hall. It’s part of the museum’s “Art in Bloom” festivities.

More than 20 florists from Southeastern Wisconsin and one florist from Michigan are creating gowns and accessories made entirely out of flowers and foliage.

“Flowers, plants, leaves, sticks-- basically anything that dies the next day is what they're allowed to use to make their garments,” Krista Renfrew, Director of Special Events at Milwaukee Art Museum, explained.

Pam Borgardt is one of the florists making a gown for the show. She’s the lead floral designer at Milaeger’s in Racine and Sturtevant. Borgardt says she’ll use up to $400 worth of flowers to create her dress.

“The gown is going to be very classic and romantic. Everything will be in cream, ivory, white and green,” she said while revealing the design to CBS 58’s Jessica Tighe.

“The artists all went go big or go home. I'm so excited for the lineup this year," Renfrew said.

It will take Borgardt 12 to 15 hours to make her dress. Timing is key. The florists have to do most of the work at the last minute so the flowers stay fresh.

“I mist the flowers down after I have it complete. I mist it down gently with a floral sealer that kind of seals the pores of the flowers and slows down the decaying process,” Borgardt explained.

The florists say it’s a fabulous sight to see the models wearing the unique designs. It’s even more special for Borgardt whose daughter will be modeling her dress. She can’t wait to see the reaction it gets.

"You always want to create a very interesting experience for the audience. You just want people to go 'Oh, my gosh. I never would have thought of using (those flowers or sticks) in that way,’ ” Borgardt said.

The florists also have judges to impress which is something new this year. Four judges will rate the gowns based on creativity, materials used, uniqueness and overall “wow” factor.

The judges include an expert florist, two expert fashion designers from The Bon-Ton Stores, and a “random guy.”

“So we have someone looking at the flowers, someone looking at the design, and someone who’s like, ‘Hey, that’s cool,’” Renfrew explained.

Tickets for “Beauty in Bloom” just sold out.

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