With expensive airfare and limited time, it can be difficult for anyone, let alone students, to visit Italy. This week, the 2009 Philadelphia Flower Show is saving students a trip by bringing a sampling of Italy’s finest flora to Center City.
The Italian Renaissance-inspired 2009 Philadelphia Flower Show, which began Sunday, brings fashion, food, performing arts, Italian-themed gardens and an exhibit by Temple’s landscape architecture and horticulture department to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for one week.
The American Institute of Floral Designers is hosting a 2,400 square-foot boutique featuring original work inspired by Italian designers Prada and Gucci, as well as international designers Elly Lin and Alexander McQueen.
The Institute’s team of more than 30 designers has been working to create an array of high-fashion dresses, accessories and perfumes, which are all made of flowers. Those who attend the show will be able to view and purchase items in the collection.
Students at the Moore College of Art and Design have been working with wearable art and the floral concept of the show. In the “Fashion District,” 16 haute couture dresses designed specifically for the flower show will be on display. Inspiration for the dresses was drawn from floral patterns and classic Italian artists.
If floral-based fashion designs are not enough of an incentive to attend the flower show, there are plenty of other attractions that will please a diverse and hungry audience.
Live cooking demonstrations will be held three times a day as part of the “All-Star Culinary Demonstrations” hosted by Chef Joseph Shilling and the Culinary School of the Art Institute of Philadelphia. In addition, Italian cheeses and traditional dishes will be available for sampling throughout the week.
On March 7, Danny DeVito will make an appearance to introduce his brand of limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur. More than 100 wines from a variety of wineries will be available for sampling. Wines will be sold starting at $7.99.
Twice-daily teas will also be hosted in a flower and music filled setting. Reservations for the tea must be made ahead of time. Tickets cost $28 per person.
Italian architecture and garden displays are features of this year’s flower show. The department of landscape architecture and horticulture prepared an educational exhibit based on the “Bella Italia” theme.
Junior landscape architecture and horticulture students in professor Baldev Lamba’s design studio developed the concept at the beginning of the Fall 2008 semester. They detailed the project toward the end of the semester and began constructing the exhibit after winter break.
“[The exhibit] has Italian influences, but it goes beyond that,” Lamba said. “It does not replicate but brings the underlying principles and spirits of Renaissance gardens.”
The students said this year’s exhibit is environmentally friendly. They incorporated regional, salvaged and recyclable materials and used recyclable construction.
Lamba and his team are investigating how to use the exhibit after the show and plan to donate parts of it to nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
Water conservation is another main aspect of the design, which harvests all the rainwater the Convention Center generates to run the exhibit.
Lamba said the extent to which this exhibit conserves water is another creative feature of the Temple students’ design.
Andrew Korzon, a junior landscape architecture major, agreed that the exhibit is an excellent hands-on project for students.
“For four years, most people sit and draw,” Korzon said. “To be able to design and build is invaluable experience.”
Students on a budget can justify spending money on a spring fashion accessory, bottle of wine, traditional Italian food or anything else from the approximately 150 retailers. The flower show generates about $30 million for local businesses by drawing crowds of more than 250,000.
Philadelphia Green, a project that revitalizes parks, vacant lots and community gardens in the city, will receive $1 million in donations from money raised through the 2009 Philadelphia Flower Show.
In addition, students receive a discounted rate of $17. More information about ticketing, the show and features, like private group tours, is available at theflowershow.com.
Christine Fisher can be reached at email@example.com.