Category: Archive

Blooming with flower power

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Tess Casey wields flower power on a grand scale. So grand that to describe her as a florist misses the mark. Rather, she’s an artist, a designer, a stylist, the creative genius behind major floral productions for giants such as CBS and MTV, as well as for corporate parties, movie sets, stage and window displays, for film, video and photo shoots, and for an array of other major events and functions.

“This is serious business, it’s vast here in New York,” said Casey, whose company, Aisling Flowers, is based on East 82nd Street in Manhattan. “It’s about more than putting a small little flower into a glass vase. It’s about hiring freelance crews, drivers, rigging crews, lighting directors. It’s a major production, it’s like show business. I’m like a production manager, but first and foremost I am a designer.”

When you watch a CBS television program with a floral arrangement, for example, the soap opera “As The World Turns,” chances are you’re seeing Tess Casey’s work. That’s because she’s the in-house florist at the network. The Japanese floral arrangements behind the Nagano-based CBS presenters and commentators during the last Olympic games were Casey’s creations.

For parties and other events, clients approach her with their party themes, which she then develops.

She recently designed the floral arrangements for a party beside the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan for the Divas concert, which featured Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Shania Twain, and Carole King.

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For a benefit at Lincoln Center for the American School of Ballet, she created pink, lavender and cream arrangements on stands above the tables with entwined ballet shoes hanging down. For a travel company party in the delegate reception hall of the United Nations, she provided an international theme. “Corporate parties, they’re usually more conservative,” she said.

She used toys as the centerpieces for a party for the toy company Hasbro. In styling a recent party for the Miami Ad School in the Rainbow Room, in the Rockefeller Center, she used white sand and shells on the tables, bottles with little scrolls of information about the students rolled up inside, and flower heads thrown on the sand.

Casey’s work also includes such mundane chores as renting tables and chairs, and recommending caterers and party spaces. She designs private parties for people in their homes and recreates outdoor scenes in film studios. For recent photo shots in Brides magazine, she not only designed the floral arrangements for the bridal party but the entire on-site styling.

Casey attended the Crawford School of Art, in her native Cork City. “My mother and grandmother had a store called the The Shamrock on Grand Parade, in Cork. My grandmother came up from West Cork, leased the store and later became the owner of it. When I was going to art school, I used go there at lunch hour and sell flowers. Then I started doing the flowers for friends’ weddings, and, after about two years, I gave up art school and went into the business.”

After a few years working in The Shamrock, Casey entered the London School of Floristry and did an internship with Pulbrook & Gould, on Sloan Street in Knightsbridge. Among Pulbrook & Gould’s clients was Britain’s royal family.

In 1991, Casey came to New York, and got a job with Rhinelander Florists.

She subsequently became the manager of a flower store in the Carlisle Hotel, on the Upper East Side, where she met such celebrities as Faye Dunaway, David Bowie, Walter Matthau, Jackie Gleason, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gregory Peck, and David Cassidy. On one occasion, First Lady Nancy Reagan had an aide package one of Casey’s floral arrangements to take back to the White House.

It was while at the Carlisle that she realized she “wanted to do flowers in show business.”

Three years ago, she founded Aisling Flowers. “Aisling,” she explained, means “a dream.” Casey’s American dream was about to blossom.

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