He loves hot pink, opulence, and drama and for this, Oprah Winfrey thinks he is a genius.
Floral couturier Preston Bailey, 59, was in New Delhi to announce a tie-up with Ferns N Petals, an event management firm, and showcase his designs at the Vivah 2008 exhibition
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Bailey is keen to expand his repertoire to include Indian A-list weddings after having designed for the crème-de-la-crème of global celebrities, including Donald Trump, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Joan Rivers. One person who’s not on this list is Madonna, and he can’t figure “why she hasn’t called me yet”. Bailey spoke to Lounge about his inspirations, and vision for the Indian wedding industry. Edited excerpts:
I’ve always been interested in India. I have lots of books on India, and now I’m here.
What is your vision for an Indian wedding?
Preston Bailey in India
I did one Indian wedding in New York City. But, yeah, the traditional Indian wedding design is going to change soon (laughs). We’re going to have a lot of white weddings here. Just kidding! I still like using the same concept of one colour and the reason is a simple — If you look at nature, it’s either a field of yellow flowers or cherry blossoms. Nature doesn’t mix colours and I like keeping that concept going. So, I’m going to try and incorporate that here.
How do you decide on your themes?
I prefer the word concepts to themes. What concept does the client want? Again, is it a traditional concept, can we twist it? I usually try to take these concepts and play with them. My goal is to always try and make it look different. To be very honest, I’m not crazy about modern design, because I think it’s trying too hard. I get inspired by nature because it is luscious and generous. I try to bring in that same feeling in a room.
What are the hottest trends for the season?
[Weddings] are getting bigger. India and the Middle East are used to it, but the US isn’t. We’re just learning to do kind of a big, grand thing. At one point we thought that those kind of weddings were ostentatious but that’s changing…
In terms of colours, this year I’m working with celadon greens and yellow… separately. The sun colours are very appealing.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Lots of books. The Spanish designer Gotti, I like him because he is so layered. I’ve worked with Daniel Ost, he’s a natural florist in Belgium. Architecturally, definitely India. I’ve really paid attention to the temples here.
How do you deal with the demands from your clients?
It changes. All that is consistent is that they all want to be surprised. Ninety per cent of my clients are billionaires, not millionaires any more, so they have seen it all. It’s a very difficult clientele. And it’s difficult to come up with something that they will respond to by saying, “Oh! I haven’t seen that before”. So, it’s very challenging.
I usually have one meeting with them to get inside their head and get an idea of what they want. Then I give them three designs and they choose one.
What does a designer need to make it in this business?
Don’t give up! Consistency. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and always learn from your mistakes.
The numbers question: What’s your most expensive wedding?
We’re very, very expensive. There was a wedding we did for around $25 million. I can’t tell you who, though. Then, there was a Abu Dhabi wedding for the royal family where they invited all the queens from the area. So, that was really, really big. And that’s probably the biggest job that I have done in my life.
You’re working on your fourth book. What’s that about?
The book is called The Art of Preston Bailey. It’s going to be bigger than all the other ones, as in, bigger format, a little bit more expensive, and the content is much richer than the other ones. In this one, it’s all about the grand weddings.
Get your own Preston Bailey wedding by contacting Ferns N Petals at www.fnp.in