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Vendor Spotlight: Ron Ben Israel Cakes

Happy Wednesday lovelies! In anticipation of the post-long-weekend blues, we’ve prepared an extra sweet vendor spotlight to give you just the jolt you may have been needing. And by “sweet,” we mean Ron Ben Israel Cakes sweet! What could possibly be more delicious and exquisite all at the same time? We at Ovando have been tremendous fans of Ron Ben Israel’s work for ages now, which is why we had such a phenomenal time chitchatting away last week about all of our individual inspirations, one of them being one another’s work! Ron was kind enough to give us the inside scoop on his love of cakes and all things culinary, including his work with the Food Network hit, “Sweet Genius!”  See what Ron had to say about the magical world of cake design…

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Ovando:  While many people know of Ron Ben Israel Cakes, perhaps less people know about your former lives as first a set design and then a dancer. Your prowess in the arts has certainly spanned many enchanted chapters. What is it about cake design that first captured you and has since maintained its intrigue?

Ron Ben Israel: I was always fascinated with the magic of desserts in the kitchen; I loved watching egg whites being whipped into a meringue, fruit juices becoming a jelly, and cake batter rising in the oven. I found out early on that guests remember the dessert much more that the main course, and it became another avenue for me to “perform”. So even though I practiced different disciplines over the years, I would always return to the kitchen and to baking.

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Ovando: Something we at Ovando have always loved about Ron Ben Israel cakes is the expansive range of your work. From the elegant to the fantastical to the wonderfully chic, each of your collections keeps us on our toes. As the cake designer yourself, what are your favorite kinds of projects to work on? Is there 1 cake design in particular that you love more than all the rest?

Ron Ben Israel: I actually don’t think too much about the range of cakes I’ve done, nor do I struggle with coming up with new ideas. For me, it all starts with practicing techniques. I just can’t stand sloppiness, and when I execute any part of a cake I feel that there is an order in the world. Working on cakes is like exercising for me – a repetitive practice in which we strive for neat execution. When I look at my work through that perspective, there isn’t a particular project I like more than others. But I have to confess that the more difficult and challenging a design is, the more satisfaction I get.

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Ovando: Every RBI creation is impossibly beautiful, so much so that the idea of cutting into it seems impossibly painful to fathom. Is it ever hard for you to watch the first slice?!

Ron Ben Israel: On the contrary! It’s the best moment for me. I like to work in a perishable medium. The beauty of cakes is temporary and fleeting. The cutting of the cake is an integral part of the process: it’s the happy culmination! And after the celebrants made the first cut, I enjoy thinking about all the guests partaking in my sweet efforts.
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Ovando: How did you get involved with the French Culinary Institute? Tell us more about what the “master classes” involve.

Ron Ben Israel: I was invited to few culinary schools to demonstrate my approach to cake design; it’s customary for chefs to donate their time and give back to the community of developing chefs. My association with The International Culinary Center (founded as The French Culinary Institute) grew out of these demonstrations. After years of teaching in their pastry classroom, I practically trained talented students that have continued to establish their own businesses. I’ve even initiated a specialized program at ICC for cakes and only cakes, which is highly sought after. I realized that the more I teach the more ideas flow, and I’m the one who actually learns the most. Additionally, the student body is the best source for interns and future employees in my shop.

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Ovando: As the “Manolo Blahnik” of wedding cakes, what would your advice be to an aspiring “wedding cake master?”

Ron Ben Israel: Oh, please. Don’t fool yourself. Calling oneself an “artist” and striving to be a “master” are sure ways to stagnate. I’m proud to call myself a “baker” or a “cake maker.” My advice is simply to keep practicing and honing the technique while remaining open for inspiration.

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Ovando: Your show on the Food Network, “Sweet Genius” has been such a tremendous success! Tell us about the first episode you filmed: did you have a blast? Did you have stage fright?!

Ron Ben Israel: There was no time for stage fright, as I needed to learn very quickly so many different things. Where to stand, what to say, how to communicate with the chef contestants. So much happens on the set that the viewer doesn’t actually see. There are about 60 people working on a single episode every day, so it’s very exciting to see how all the pieces in the puzzle fit together. Filming the show has been an intense experience, and every episode is a brand new challenge.

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Ovando: Tell us a bit more about your process when working with brides to create a dream cake.

Ron Ben Israel: For me, it’s all about inspiration. I ask the bride to bring to the initial appointment anything related to the wedding reception. I’m curious to get to know the clients’ personalities and taste sensibilities. Learning about their event’s location, time of the year, choices of menu, flowers and decor, outfits, invitation, and even courtship will influence the cake design we’ll come up with. Of course, I also have to take into consideration the budget allowed for the cake – therefore I present few options to choose from.

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Ovando: Being that a wedding cake should marry nicely (no pun intended!) with the design of the wedding itself, there are surely many décor aspects that you must consider. Is there one aspect that generally influences your design most greatly?

Ron Ben Israel: Of all the other vendors and creative contributors, the one I absolutely have to consider above all is the floral designer. I often would match our sugar flowers on the cake to the real blossoms, so of course our communication has to be clear. But beyond getting inspired by the flowers, I need to know about all the other design elements in the reception space – table cloths, napkins, containers, chair covers – so many wonderful ideas come my way via the florist.

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Ovando: What most inspires your work? And your life outside of the kitchen?

Ron Ben Israel: I keep repeating this to myself, my staff, and my students – it’s all about inspiration. In life and in work I try to open all my senses and to avail myself to everything around us.

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Ovando: What’s your favorite dessert?

Ron Ben Israel: That’s a tough one… I adore baked meringue of any kind, so a classic Pavlova would be it.

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Ovando: As tremendous fans of your work for many years now, we are so thrilled to be partnering with RBI to create a masterful floral foodie experience (We can’t wait to show off the Ovando inspired and RBI-crafted cake that is currently in the works!) Which flowers serve as your favorite cake accessories? Why? Any other favorite accessories that blend well?

Ron Ben Israel: Well, the appreciation is mutual! I’ve been collecting the Ovando brochures and photos for years, filing them in a folder called “Ideas for cakes.” I live close to the West Village store and often stop by to admire the displays. I enjoy so much getting influenced by the Ovando look – bold colors, interesting movement of stems, and original groupings of blossoms. The designs I see by Ovando are so far removed from static and dull, they motivate me to “respond” with a unique cake design!

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Ovando: Any other thoughts you’d like to leave us with?

Ron Ben Israel: Just that I feel so lucky to be doing what I love, and to meet such fine artisans such as Sandra along the way!

 

Tremendous thanks, Ron, for sharing your work with Ovando’s readers. We can’t wait to have you back on our blog with an Ovando-inspired RBI cake!

Photos courtesy of Ron Ben Israel Cakes

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I Dream of Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week is always such a captivating experience: the adrenaline in the styling room; the new breakthrough designer sends his models down the catwalk for the first time; the chic after-party is ignited with conversation of Ms.  Wintour’s favorite look. If fashion week shows us anything, it’s certainly the fact that fashion is just as purposeful as it is ephemeral. Indeed, there is “An Ever Changing Face of Beauty.”

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Such is the premise of fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø’s video installation which premiered at the Park Avenue Armory on February 14th, organized by W Magazine and P&G Prestige.

W’s Stefano Tonchi and P&G Prestige’s Joanne Crewes host an exclusive dinner at The Mark Hotel on upper east side in celebration of The Ever Changing Face of Beauty, an installation by Solve Sundsbo

Sundsbø aims not only to capture still images of the beauties beyond the lens, but to also bring them to life and imbue them with story and character. Some might even argue that beauty and inspiration are easy to find, but it’s the process of translating this into a living piece of work that presents the challenge, be it a clothing collection, an art installation, or even a floral composition.

W’s Stefano Tonchi and P&G Prestige’s Joanne Crewes host an exclusive dinner at The Mark Hotel on upper east side in celebration of The Ever Changing Face of Beauty, an installation by Solve Sundsbo

W’s Stefano Tonchi and P&G Prestige’s Joanne Crewes host an exclusive dinner at The Mark Hotel on upper east side in celebration of The Ever Changing Face of Beauty, an installation by Solve Sundsbo

Ovando was honored to be a part of the evening and to have an opportunity to showcase the fruits of our inspiration-to-creation process. Working off of the psychedelic blend of male and female body parts accented with blooming flowers, tree branches and fire, we aimed for something that spoke both to the femininity and masculinity of Sundsbø’s work as well as the fervor of his images.

W’s Stefano Tonchi and P&G Prestige’s Joanne Crewes host an exclusive dinner at The Mark Hotel on upper east side in celebration of The Ever Changing Face of Beauty, an installation by Solve Sundsbo

W’s Stefano Tonchi and P&G Prestige’s Joanne Crewes host an exclusive dinner at The Mark Hotel on upper east side in celebration of The Ever Changing Face of Beauty, an installation by Solve Sundsbo

We decided to pair a brawny aubergine against fuchsia and violet highlights to convey the interdependent yet juxtaposed relations of male and female. Highlighting these compositions with the seductive hue of candlelight made for a truly enchanting evening.

W’s Stefano Tonchi and P&G Prestige’s Joanne Crewes host an exclusive dinner at The Mark Hotel on upper east side in celebration of The Ever Changing Face of Beauty, an installation by Solve Sundsbo

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Photos by Billy Farrell Agency

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A Valentine’s Day Collaboration with Artist Manuel Pardo

Year after year, there is joyful anticipation amongst design industry moguls and New Yorkers alike as they await the release of Valentine’s Day window displays amongst Madison Avenue’s luxury boutiques. Whimsical one moment, heartfelt the next, these brilliant installations are sure to spark a twinkle as shoppers eagerly search for the perfect gifts for their sweethearts. It’s no secret that Ovando’s window installations are included in this mix. And this year, Ovando’s Valentine’s Day installation is especially exciting…

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If you peeked at the photo above, your eye was surely caught by those modern canvases featuring dazzlingly stylish women. (No, our floral & event designers did not suddenly take up painting!) Behold: the work of New York-based artist extraordinaire, Manuel Pardo. Perhaps now you understand why we’re so shamelessly gloating about this year’s astounding installation!

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As luck should have it, founder Sandra de Ovando and artist Manuel Pardo have long been mutual admirers of one another’s work. In light of theapproach of such an impassioned holiday, the artists opted to embrace the occasion and put forth a stunning design which pays homage to a love of art as well as an appreciation of both artists’ Latin roots, as seen through the use of bold colors and a stylized take on Mexican terra cotta tiling.

The window installation also features a living-room type set-up including Ovando’s Valentine’s Day floral arrangements, furniture props, and select paintings from two of Manuel Pardo’s series,Mother & I and Tecnicolor, as also recently seen at the New Museum in New York and the Griffin-Linton Gallery in Venice, California. For now, Ovando is also one of a handful of vendors carrying Manuel Pardo’s two-hundred and thirty page art book, Un Universo Soñado en Tecnicolor (A Universe Dreamed in Technicolor), released in June 2011 and being released to Barnes & Nobles come September 2012. The retrospective on Manuel’s thirty-year career also includes essays by former Artforum editor and current MOMA publications coordinator, David Frankel, as well as Mike McGee, Gallery Director at Cal State’s Fullerton Begovich’s Gallery.

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So, while we hope you enjoy this two-dimensional rendition of the window (and lovely photos they are!), we would oh-so-much rather you see it in person… It’s the perfect opportunity to get within 3 feet of the modernist works one of this century’s most pivotal artists!

Pictured: Ovando’s Upper East Side boutique located at 19 E65th Street near the corner of Madison Avenue.Ovando_collaboration_Manuel_Pardo4

Photos by Matthew Hanlon Photography

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Looking Ahead…

With each New Year we have many more of you to thank for Ovando’s continued growth.  It is with great excitement and gratitude that we unveil what’s to come in 2012…

Recuerdos de Mexico: Ovando’s luxury candle collection

Growing up in Mexico, many of Sandra de Ovando’s most cherished moments involved the absorbing beauty of nature and all of its intoxicating fragrances.  Today, Sandra offers you a glimpse into her memories of Mexico with her exquisite candle collection, “Recuerdos de Mexico.” Each masterful fragrance takes you on a sensory journey of her memories, combining purity and luxury to offer you blissful escape.

And lucky for our beloved New Yorkers, our candles will be available in Ovando boutiques beginning February 10th, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Ovando’s Event Design & Production Team

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For those of you who have not yet heard, we are so pleased to announce the official launch of our dedicated event design & production team. We’ve worked hand-in-hand with many talented designers over the years to create some of the most spectacular events. Now, our dedicated events department makes it easier for you to entrust the A to Z’s of your event to solely one team. Learn more about our full-scale design & production services, including everything from overall concept and vendor management to tablescape design and custom furniture.  With uncompromising attention to detail and an unsurpassed level of professionalism, we will ensure that your event is “WOW!” worthy.

And not to worry, we’ll still be here with our signature flower designs which we hope you all continue to love!

We look forward to many more exciting things to come in 2012…

Photos by Mathew Hanlon Photography

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Fashion on the Courts

Fashion_Ovando_Tennis-Ball As the official floral designer of the US Open (our third year in a row!), Ovando is gearing up to present a radiant line-up of sculptural arrangements and themed floral creations in the hospitality area and in select sponsored suites. Ovando is making a green, white, and yellow splash across the entirety of The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

While each match comes fully-equipped with ferocious high-paced volley, the intensity of highbrow fashionistas observing closely alongside the 700,000+ attendees will be just as exciting. This year, Ovando is drawing inspiration from such tennis icons as Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova, in addition to a retinue of fashion icons like Anna Wintour. Our floral creations are certain to create a brilliant splash.

Yellow pompom buttons, strategically positioned on a court of wheat grass, come together to offer a more literal interpretation of a US Open match.

Fashion_Ovando_us-open-bouquets21(Above Left:) Working with a spherical subject, this floating flower ball appears to lay effortlessly within the square court. In actuality, each player, as represented by the flower ball, is struggling to stay above water and defeat their dexterous opponents.

(Above Right:) A loop of ever-chic lily grass emerges into a carefully fashioned bundle of Phalaenopsis orchids. The arrangement celebrates the fluidity and grace of the US Open players as well as the escalation and triumph of the ultimate winner.

May the best contestant win!

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Living for Fashion Week New York

New York Fashion Week is always such a captivating experience: the meticulous choosing of models, the adrenaline in the styling room, the breakthrough designers sending their first collections down the runway, chic after-parties lit with conversations of Anna Wintour’s choice seasonal looks. If fashion week shows us anything, it’s certainly that the latest trends are just as purposeful as they are inspired. Such is the vision of Ovando projects for Spring/Summer 2014 shows and presentations: the tender nature of flowers and plantlife to thrive in special seasons.

NY_Fashion_week_ovndoThis year, we aimed not only to flatter the beauties appearing through the lens, but to imbue them with multifaceted life. Some may argue inspiration can be found easily, but the process of translation into fashion collections, artworks, floral composition, and event designs into innovative living art is an exciting challenge.

This Fashion Week, Ovando was honored to be a part of three stunning Fashion Week displays: Kate Spade Spring/Summer 2014 Presentation, Houghton Spring/Summer 2014 Runway Show, and Naeem Kahn Spring/Summer 2014 Runway Show.

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All three projects were sparked by an inspiration of the natural fragrances in the open air (very much Dia de Campo). Kate Spade boasted a scenic Versailles boxwood garden-party atmosphere where models, styled by Brad Goreski, encircled the space on lush green elevated stages.

The Houghton and Naeem Kahn Spring/Summer 2014 Runway lines featured large scale live walls with floral and plantlife elements. The Hougton show, hosted at the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District, created a natural organic texture to the presentation set to the open sky.

Flattering Naeem Khan’s latest line, a raw installation of tropical florals complimented an array of some of the most stunning models in all of Fashion Week. Topping the collection, a debut wedding dress was presented a new line of wedding gowns, elevated by a bright red Ovando bouquet.

We commend all of the successes of the Spring/Summer 2014 Fashion Week designers this year!  A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the awe of Fashion Week can render you speechless.

 

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Vendor Spotlight: Carlos Huber of Arquiste

As seasoned admirers of all things floral and recent inductees into the captivating world of home fragrances, we’ve developed a discerning nose for floral fragrances in particular. Naturally then, it’s quite inspiring when a fragrance comes along that has the power to reinvigorate our senses and offer a new perspective. Behold: Arquiste’s newly unveiled Boutonniere no.7, a sumptuous gardenia cologne designed by Founder and Creative Director, Carlos Huber. Not only did we have the wonderful opportunity to design the launch party for Boutonniere no.7, but we also had the great pleasure of speaking with Carlos about his inspirations for the new fragrance.

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Ovando: Why gardenia?

Carlos Huber: Gardenia was the quintessential “Opera flower” used by men in black-tie during the Belle Époque. I thought it was interesting that its scent was so closely tied into the idea of masculinity.  To me, it represented the proper way for a man to use a flower.

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Ovando: Of all of the Arquiste fragrances, do you have a favorite fragrance?

Carlos Huber: Boutonniere no.7! We’ve worked really hard to create what we think is the best gardenia perfume possible.

 

Ovando: What initially inspired your interest in fragrances?

Carlos Huber: I’ve always been very connected to my nose; every time I would do research on a building or city I would come across an anecdote or a part of the story that led me to think, “What did it smell like?” I’ve also always been a real perfume and grooming aficionado, so I came into this as a very passionate customer. I realized that my passion for scent and the culture around it was just as strong as my love of architectural history. Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux gave me classes on perfume for a year and a half, and he really has become a sort of mentor for me. At a certain point, I decided I had to find a way for perfumery to remain a constant in my life–to make it my own. I knew it had to be related to history, art, and architecture, and to me they are much intertwined. My fascination with historic architecture has always been connected to its experience, and if you are sensitive to scent, then what you smell and feel is just as important as what you see.

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Ovando: Tell us more about Arquiste. What distinguishes the brand?

Carlos Huber: Arquiste was born out of the idea to create the highest quality scents with a serious emphasis on story-telling and experience.  I wanted to do this through serious research, not a marketing brief. Fragrances are real works of olfactory art that allow us to see the value of a seemingly distant, or “disconnected,” past with our present–with our own emotions.

Ovando: You’re also from Mexico City! Tell us about how your upbringing there influenced your sense of design.

Carlos Huber: Mexico City is one of the most fascinating cities on earth, and I’m not saying it just because I’m from there. I think it’s a very creative place.  It is a city built on layers that mix and fight for preeminence: Aztec, Viceregal, Beaux Arts, Modernist and Contemporary. It is also a truly Imperial city (Mexico was an empire three times, during the Aztecs, and in the 19th century) which conquered, destroyed and continuously re-built. And, today as it was then, it is chaotic, rich, diverse and alive. When I am there, I swear it’s as if there’s a tingling feeling. The design references are so vast that your sense of design can pick up the craziest things.

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Ovando: As you know, Ovando has a candle collection that is similarly inspired by the fragrances of nature and the power of fragrances to conjure memories. What memory or feeling does your gardenia boutonniere inspire in you?

 

Carlos Huber: The gardenia boutonniere conjures both distant and close memories. The last time I wore it was during a gala night with my friends and colleagues Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Sophie Bensamou, and Yann Vasnier. It was a very happy night and I it was around the time of the launch of Arquiste. When I smell gardenias, it takes me back to the beginning of this great adventure.

Gardenias also evoke Mexico City to me, namely because on my way home from university I would buy little bunches of them that I would give to my mom and my sister. It also reminds me of the flower vendors in the streets of my old neighborhood. All positive things as you can see!

 

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Ovando: Give us the scoop…What’s next for Arquiste?

Carlos Huber: We are releasing a special edition of L’Etrog, Flor y Canto, and Anima Dulcis–three of our best-sellers– and the fragrances will come with a custom refillable atomizer that you can take wherever…it’s a very cool gift and we are offering it this holiday season.

We also have lots of traveling coming up, with Arquiste launching in Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain! I couldn’t be happier!

Ovando: Anything else you’d like to share?

Carlos Huber: Flowers inspire and excite, and they soften your heart… They represent life and nature, but also fragility and artifice. To share a passion for flowers with an artist like Ovando, and to work together in this passion is an honor.

We feel the same, Carlos. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and beautiful inspirations with us.

Photos courtesy of Arquiste

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Ovando & Rent the Runway!

We’ve all had those dreary moments: “A closet full of clothes but nothing to wear”.  Another big event is just around the corner, you want to make sure that you look nothing short of fabulous, but how many times are you going to invest in yet another unforgettable dress that will soon be buried away and forgotten in the back of your closet? What’s a girl to do?

Alas, partnerships born in heaven have landed in New York! Originally launched in our big beloved city, Rent The Runway was born of the idea that the stunning style walking down the runway should also be accessible to fashion lovers and party girls on their upcoming sashays. Equally as exiting, RTR recently launched their dedicated Weddings channel, offering a gorgeous selection of high-fashion wear for brides and bridesmaids alike! Not only does the collection offer a host of sought-after designers, but so too does RTR offer you an easy solution for returns: simply drop your dress or accessory in the mail and voila! Shall we call it the Netflix for fashion?

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Not only are we avid fans, we’re delighted to also be collaborating with RTR on their new bridal report! We indeed had a blast with our friends at Photomuse shooting this launch piece dedicated to bouquets and bridesmaids’ dresses.

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Keep an eye out for more tips on the latest in floral design from yours truly, as well as tips & tricks from other like-minded vendors and stylists including Christian Oth photography,AisleDash and more…

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Cheers to flowers and fashion!

All photos by Photomuse

Black Swan Ovando

Black Swan

For me, flowers are the medium through which delicacy meets urban contemporary, as is often inspired by the eclecticism that is New York— art, fashion, and truly stand out architecture and design.  This is what drives Ovando’s work and enables us to create such stand out design: compositions that are anything but simplistic.

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Fortunately, we’re lucky to have truly exceptional clients that trust our vision and provide Ovando with the platform to explore this creative calling.

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Recently, Ovando partnered with Swarovski on a product launch that aimed to merge romanticism with modernity. It was a match made in heaven.  Or shall we say… purgatory?

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Inspired by the theatricality of the recent film success, Black Swan, Ovando aimed to recreate this atmosphere where pure beauty meets stunning wickedness.

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Black feathers paired with boldly feminine colors cultivated a bewitchingly dramatic look. Tailored lighting, dark carpet runners, & stylized ballerina mannequins were fashioned to further elaborate upon this theatrical yin and yang expanse.

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And, of course, no backstage atmosphere would be complete without a proper dressing room, adorned with makeup and inspirational photos to motivate our muse before she takes the stage.

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The floral installation was a perfect paradigm of art meets nature, beauty meets beast. And it was also an excellent example of why we love what we do.

Photos by Photomuse.

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Midnight in the Garden of Glamour

‘Tis the season for summer soirees and cocktail coolers à la margarita. Alas!

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Ever ahead of the curve, Too Faced Cosmetics hence had the right idea in mind when they gathered amongst friends and flowers at Ovando’s Madison boutique for “Midnight in the garden of glamour.”

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Surrounded by the spellbinding colors and shapes of Ovando’s floral décor, the evening was a perfect opportunity to peruse the coming season’s cosmetic collection while sipping bubbly as well as other sweet libations.

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In light of the “midnight in the garden” motif, Ovando’s color scheme centered upon deep purple vanda orchids mixed amongst green accents , with a few fuchsia and white articulations sprinkled about. Eye shadow palettes and other makeup accessories were paired against mixed florals and other embellishments to the likes of river rocks and sliced fruit.

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To complement the lavish visual feast, guests were offered garden treats by the ingenious fellows of Garden Bon Bons.

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Amongst other highlights, Too Faced cosmetics’’ Co-Founder and Creative Director Jerrod Blandino was there to toast to his guests as well as offer a little insight into his philosophy, “Why be pretty when you can be gorgeous?” Custom-blends provide his celebrity clientele with color palettes in one-of-a-kind formulations.

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Being in the business of design, the mantra is certainly one that we can appreciate.

Photos courtesy of Too Faced Cosmetics.