Preston Bailey: In love with flowers
The talented Preston Bailey was back in Jakarta .
His third visit to Indonesia was for two reasons; first, to launch his latest book Flowers, and second, to attend his best friend Biyan’s fashion show.
Courtesy of Preston Bailey
The man proved charming and gentle, and discussed his latest book and his life.
Flowers is Bailey 5th book after Inspirations, Fantasy Weddings, Design for Entertaining and Celebrations. And it was not really a surprise to see that Bailey chose flowers as the theme for his latest work, as flowers are pretty much the center of his universe.
“Flowers will always be my first love! I started my career as a florist and in this book I am trying to use flowers in various different ways instead of just for arrangements. I think flowers are like clay and we can sculpt them to create many different visions. This is not a book of how to but it is a book that shows you how to pick flowers for an event or celebration in a very unique and different way,” he said.
Flowers indeed play the most important role in his works in order to create transformations.
It is always Bailey’s main goal to create a wonderful evening that people will remember forever through his work. Who can forget the magnificent giant flower peacocks he created at Biyan’s fashion show a couple years ago?
The challenge for him was not to make the book just another flower book, though it is called Flowers.
“I mean there’s a million flower books and how to make arrangements or decorate arrangements.
I wanted to make a book that you can show flowers in a bigger scale in an environment. We do a lot of public installations and instead of clay we use flowers. So, I think [I have a] very specific point of view of flowers and not in the usual arrangements that we usually see out of a book.”
Like a great magician, Bailey is never running out of ideas for creating new décor concepts for an event, including for his own. At his recent book-launching hosted by Joan Rivers at her apartment, Bailey came up with a special breed of orchid that was specially flown in from Taiwan.
With over 30,000 of the gorgeous purple orchids, he created glamorous and surreal orchid topiaries, including a statuette of a woman made of swirls of hot pink orchids as the centerpiece.
Are his book launches in the United States always done in such lavish manner? He said, “Yes, I think… I mean these books are a way of introducing our new work. On the last book launch for Celebration, we used an empty warehouse space and transformed it to a party venue. However, this book now is more social. Joan Rivers is like one of the ultimate entertainers and she invited a very interesting selective group of people to attend my book launch. Everybody had a great time and Joan’s home is great for a party. Her house looks like Versailles. It really does. It looks like you are transported to Versailles in the middle of New York with its high ceiling, gold and its just ah… very glamorous.”
The select group of people who were invited to his book launch were mostly New York A-listers including the queen of home living, Martha Stuart, Regis and Joy Philbin, Susan Lucci and Blaine Trump.
“I wanted to do something because Joan is such a comedian and we wanted to do something with a sense of humor. She is into fashion and known as the fashion police. Everybody loves her show in America and waits for Friday night just to see it. I created this fashion dress made out of orchids and of course the buttons are all exaggerated. Joan kept telling everybody that the statue had her figure,” he said, laughing.
The friendship between Joan Rivers and Bailey has been solid for years now. He called her his angel. “She is very funny and her humor is very cutting, but as a person she is very lovely, and generous… She is a mentor and real friend. I just love her.” Bailey also told us that Joan Rivers was the first person that gave him the first big event and has continuously promoted him over the years.
It is also interesting to note that this book was published in Indonesia last September, even before it was released in the US. Not only that, but Bailey also dedicated the first two chapters to Java and the pieces that he did here.
And for his future plans? His answer was education.
“At the moment I am incredibly invested in education. You know I didn’t learn from anyone. I learned by making mistakes and by doing it over and over and over again. You know what I think at this moment? I’m in this position that I might be able to teach people that are interested in getting in to the event industry or the event planning industry or the flower industry. I want to help them to get started and understand how to approach it, so that they don’t have to make as many mistakes as I did before.”
In order to fulfill his education mission, Bailey collaborates with Longevity’s Wedding Planning Institute and creates online courses. Through online learning, Bailey is teaching students how to create business models and pricing formulas. His main objective is to teach students not only to be excellent event designers but also savvy entrepreneurs.
“I chose online courses because it is more accessible to many people and institutions in America or here [in Jakarta] than having people come see me directly. Right now, I’m really excited about that,” he said.
It has been 30 years since Bailey started his career in the industry and his works have definitely inspired the world.
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