When Rawan Rihani graduated from RISD, it was with a focus in fashion design and painting. Instead of pursuing either career path, she quite literally found herself stumbling upon the world of floristry.
Enamored with the ephemeral and organic forms flower arrangements could take, she began to incorporate painting methods into her work. Now, she's returning to her roots with the launch of her own fashion line.
We spoke to Rihani about the beauty of following a winding career path and finding yourself in your work.
How did you find yourself entering floristry?
I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn and really dug the vibe of the neighborhood.
There was a flower shop looking for assistance across the street. I instantly fell in love with working with flowers and never stopped! That was six years ago.
What aspects of your background have you been able to utilize towards your current profession?
Having painted my whole life, lots of painterly techniques come up in the process of arranging, especially playing with color, composition, and movement. I love how you can create different moods with color combinations.
I've been especially into working with analogous colors in a single arrangement. To me, the colors feel more emotional together and almost like they are actually painted.
What do you find most fulfilling about being a florist?
I love when people smile when they receive their wedding bouquet or delivery. A smile just makes everything worth it, it's the best.
You've worked with brands as notable as Vogue. How do you ensure you're delivering their vision while also remaining true to your aesthetic?
If Vogue or any client calls an artist or designer to work together, they are not expecting you to change your aesthetic. Knowing this, I've always reminded myself to be confident when working with clients, even prestigious ones.
Simultaneously, I always want to know the initial concept and really bask in that before executing the project, this way, that communication comes through in the materials and project. I remain true to my voice and authentic to my art while staying inspired and connected to the materials involved.
You also launched a clothing line this year. Tell me a bit about how that decision came about.
I made the decision to launch my own line after I realized I've only grown more fond of clothes in my Italian mom's and aunt's closets. I like to imagine that the collection is all the unseen pieces from their wardrobes.
Last year before my wedding, I tried on a few pieces from their closets and was just in such awe. My mom still has these insanely beautiful pieces from Italy and the Middle East from the 70s. They feel so natural and effortless that I had to create a platform for this idea. It's called Aurora Vestita (Vestita meaning to-dress in Italian).
What has been the most challenging part about not only owning your own business, but expanding in the way that you have to other industries?
I think balancing time, energy, and patience. This year has definitely been more challenging having expanded into clothing, but I am loving the line so much and enjoying designing as well.
I am restructuring next year and only taking on very exclusive and special floral projects and only a few weddings so I can focus more on the clothing line and give myself more time to explore and make art to nourish my creativity. I want to preserve the inspiration that comes rather than burn it out.
When things become busy or hectic, what keeps you sane and how do you maintain a lifestyle balance?
My husband and cats keep me sane, as does talking to my mom on the phone. I also love yoga and walking around my neighborhood. Visiting the Brooklyn botanic gardens eases my soul and renews my spirit.
What's next for you?
I think finding a space for ongoing pop-ups, as well as collaborating with photographers and other artists and designers. I'm ready to have a retail presence with my clothing line and flora and hope that I can soon make that happen!
Photos: Tavish Timothy