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Exploring Diane James' Reimagined Artificial Flowers

Discover the flowers that will never wilt

In the world of artificial flowers there are few names more respected than that of Diane James. Her collection offers a style that is very ‘gathered from the garden’ with incredible attention to detail, masses of botanical variety and colours ranging from pastel to powerful.

Hand-made in her Connecticut studio, discover why Diane James' flowers are a promise of petal perfection.

The Craftsmanship Behind Diane James' Faux Flowers |

Image Credit: Diane James

Who is Diane James?

Deciding to channel her affinity with the world of flowers and maximise what she’d learnt in floral composition during her time living in Europe, Diane James launched her namesake luxury faux florals brand in 1997.

Her background in real foliage taught her all about the idiosyncrasies of each flower type, such as head weight, petal markings and stem curvature. And, so, when invited to create bouquets for vacation homes, she sought to find a solution to provide her clients with flowers that had staying power while also capturing the true character of a garden’s many blooms.

These projects were the earliest incarnations of the now prestigious Diane James artificial flower brand—a favourite home styling accessory of leading interior designers, including Michael S. Smith, Celerie Kemble, Mario Buatta and Nina Campbell.

The Craftsmanship Behind Diane James' Faux Flowers |

Image Credit: Diane James

The Design Process

Designing at Diane James is very much a family affair. Diane works alongside her co-CEO twin daughters, Carolyn and Cynthia; together they dream up collections inspired by the latest home decor trends.

“Once we have the inspiration, we shop for the stems and containers at market in January (for fall) and July (for spring), which is a full six months prior to launching the designs,” explains Carolyn.

“We receive our stem samples after the shows and start pulling the collection together. Sample designs are made so that our six designers have a model to copy when producing the orders. We tend to produce most of our orders as they are received so that the designs are as ‘fresh’ as possible for the client.”

The Craftsmanship Behind Diane James' Faux Flowers |

Image Credit: Diane James

The trio’s earliest creations were sold in New York’s luxury department store, Bergdorf Goodman, and every collection since has been designed in the same painstakingly detailed way by their all-female team.

In the Diane James studio, only the finest materials are employed, coaxed into forming tightly packed peony buds or orchid plants whose stems drape gracefully from bamboo stakes.

The Craftsmanship Behind Diane James' Faux Flowers |

Image Credit: Diane James

Every aspect of the making process is performed by hand. Even the glass vases in which the flowers are presented are gently hand-washed and dried to ensure a streak-free gleam.

Other steps include hand-finishing (where some petals need to be slightly clipped back as they settle into their flower head formation), dipping and drying flower stems to promise colour-fastness, and hand-crafting sustainable bamboo grids to give the arrangements structure. The orchids even have raffia and preserved moss, just as you would see in a nursery.

The Craftsmanship Behind Diane James' Faux Flowers |

Image Credit: Diane James

The Fall 2019 Collection

As the second collection presented by the brand this year, the most recent additions form part of Diane James’ autumn collection.

“The Fall 2019 collection is called Eventide, based on the shapes and colours we see as the day ends and night falls. We saw a lot of pale pinks, teal blues, soft purples and greens on the runway for this season and the layered look of maximalist decor is still very much on-trend. Warm metallics like bronze and gold play a role, but in a more a subtle way,” Carolyn continues.

But relying on newness isn’t the only way to explore seasonality with Diane James’ florals. Store ‘out of season’ flowers in a cabinet or attic space and, instead, make a feature out of those that are in sync with those cuttings you see at the florist’s stand. Even the most discerning of eyes will struggle to spot the difference between the real and the make-believe.

Yes, even world-renowned interior designer Nina Campbell had difficulty, telling Architectural Digest in summer: “I remember I bought this one vase in particular from her [Diane James] with lots of blossoms in it. That night, I went to dinner with a couple on Park Avenue and they had exactly the same vase. And I said, 'Did you get that from Diane James?' And they said, 'Oh no, we just bought them at the florist on the corner of Park Avenue.' Then I realized theirs were real. They looked exactly the same.”

If that isn’t an accolade, we don’t know what is.

Header Image Credit: Diane James