Mark Colle

MarkColle

Lights go low, music starts rolling, whispers subside, and the first model steps out. She struts down the runway, avoiding obstacles of all sorts: flashing lights from the photographers, the runway’s sharp corners and floral arrangements displayed in large Plexiglas cubes scattered across her path. The flowers are carefully hand-selected to highlight the palette of the Jil Sander collection, and to set the mood even before the first look debuts.

Belgian mega-florist Mark Colle is to thank for this. Sought after by the likes of Raf Simons throughout his transition from Jil Sander to Christian Dior, as well as Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester, Colle has designed for countless editorials. Did I mention that he also has the approval of Anna Wintour?

At the age of 15, after deciding that advertising school would not be his path or future, Colle turned to arranging for his family’s local florist. Here, he learned the simple beauty of all flowers, not just the exotics that stood out. His most commonly used mediums are well-known (think roses and carnations) and he takes a simple yet visually stunning approach, mixing common and rarer blooms to a grand scale meant to excite the senses.

Colle’s work at Simon’s last Jil Sander show garnered much acclaim. His installation inspired the Pierre Debuscherre film “Fade Into You” for which he was the floral mastermind: his designs included corsets constructed of boning and flowers woven together, arrangements that were superimposed on models’ bodies and faces, and vines that writhed around models’ necks. Colle has a talent for creating imagery that makes the flowers jump off the screen and take on a life of their own, evoking an emotion separate from that of the film, a depiction of flowers in motion.

MarkColle2

At 34 years old, Colle has proven himself as a mainstay in the art scene, and is one of the most sought-after individual florists in the world. His ability to marry the needs of his clients with the beauty of flowers is unparalleled. Colle’s studio, Baltimore Bloeman, is based out of Antwerp, and he keeps his team small, preferring to do all his work for big clients by himself in the studio. He compromises nothing: every flower is sourced locally, and all specialty flowers are supplied from Antwerp or nearby Holland.

Likely the most widely recognized of Colle’s work is his
collaboration with Raf Simon’s debut collection for Christian Dior Haute Couture. Colle turned a Parisian hotel’s walls into a delicate explosion of color and texture with the help of over a million flowers. Each room was designed with the intent to invoke a specific emotion: in one room, small black chairs were placed uncomfortably close together, contrasting with entire walls of white orchids that opened up the space. A green foyer of mimosa flowers featured a runway path that wandered through the hotel. Given only a couple of glances at the collection and a few fabric and color samples, Colle was able to cohesively bond together the fashion and flower aspects of the exhilarating collection. His keen ability to balance his vision of one million flowers with Simon’s debut was nothing short of spectacular.

Text by Emily Wong
Photography by Alex Salinas and Pierre Debusschere

THE OBSESSION ISSUE

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