By Melissa Sorge
—A Whimsical Collaboration of Photography, Dance, and Fashion
Master floral designer OIga Sahraoui grew up surrounded by nature. A native of Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea, she was mesmerized by the vibrant shades of blue coloring the local waters. While she always carried this appreciation for the natural environment, it was her honeymoon in Marrakech that solidified her fate in flowers. Visits to the famous gardens of French artist Jacques Majorelle, as well as the home of fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent, imprinted upon her soul a desire to recreate the beauty she had witnessed: “I was so inspired, overwhelmed by the beauty, sophistication, colors, textures… it was love at first sight. I wanted to create my own world from flowers. There and then, I decided to become a floral designer.”
Sahraoui went on to study among the world’s leading floral experts, earning her credentials in floral design, and it was in the Netherlands that Sahraoui learned that floristry, in and of itself, was an art form. After spending much time learning the principles of horticulture, Sahraoui was ready to meld art, fashion, and nature in the creation of her own establishment in New York City. Sahraoui opened Sahola Flower Fashion Boutique in 2012, where she continues to produce inspired, original floral designs and couture.
Most recently, Sahola Flower Fashion Boutique had the chance to collaborate with Ken Browar and Deborah Ory of NYC Dance Project. Browar and Ory are known for their bestselling book, “The Art of Movement,” in which they depict some of the world’s leading dancers through photos. Currently working on their second book, the pair came across a photo of an Alexander McQueen dress and fell in love with its movement and floral pattern. Instinctively, they envisioned a ballerina dancing in a similarly inspiring ensemble. Through mutual friends in the floral and art worlds, Browar and Ory found Sahraoui, and a powerful creative team came together to bring the vision to life.
The first task at hand, in creating the floral gown, was to make sure the ballerina could move freely in her costume. To achieve this, they turned to costume designer, Madeleine Hinkis, who chose a corset top connected to a skirt ring base—similar to the shape of a wedding dress. From there, Sahraoui worked her flower magic: “Flowers had been carefully selected to create the texture, rhythm, and the art of movement. A variety of colorful hydrangeas, roses, spray roses, and veronica create that beautiful energy flow of the dress. Striking hydrangeas keep the airy look of the clouds, while roses bring the elegant glimpse.”
The end result was an ethereal gown fit for dancer Meaghan Grace Hinkis, a soloist with the Royal Ballet. Hinkis’ form moved gracefully and poetically in the carefully curated dress, and this pairing of art and nature is precisely why Sahraoui decided to lead a life devoted to flowers: “Flowers are the language of every sentiment. Together [flowers and dance] bring unforgettable emotions.”
Photography: Ken Browar & Deborah Ory, NYC Dance Project
Costume: Madeleine Hinkis
Ballerina: Meaghan Grace Hinkis
Flowers: Sahola Flower Fashion Boutique