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Designing Man


With clients like Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, and international royalty, event designer Preston Bailey says he’s fortunate that demand for his exuberant floral designs is still high. 


But even for the rest of us, Bailey says the worst of economic times offers a great opportunity to entertain with friends in a beautiful atmosphere. Combining flowers with overflowing bowls of fruits and vegetables that can be eaten later or creating a striking decor from paper decor, flowers, and candles as shown in his new book, Celebrations, due out this fall, can be both memorable and affordable.  


We caught up with Bailey during a recent visit to San Diego for a Village Garden Club of La Jolla benefit. “The beauty of it is to see what you can create,” Bailey says. “We’re being called to get more inventive and playful.”


A whimsical natural sensibility informs all of Bailey’s designs whether it’s one of his sculpted dogs or a shimmering fabric-draped room filled with blooming trees. 

Bailey’s trendsetting designs use elements like color, texture, and aroma to create a tableau as evocative as walking through a field of ranunculi in bloom or under a trellis fragrant with clusters of wisteria.


“Nature tends to be incredibly generous,” Bailey notes. “That’s my signature style to convey the beauty and abundance of nature. I love the idea of bringing the outdoors inside.” 


Color is a vital element of decor; Bailey is currently into blues and greens that reflect the sky and ocean. He and a staff of 250 recently created a fantasy in purple and pink with yellow accents that set a lush, romantic mood for a royal wedding in the Middle East for 1,500 guests. 


“We’ve been conditioned to think that white flowers are it; they’re so elegant,” Bailey says. “But you can say so much more with color.”


Bailey can’t name his favorite flower, but he adores the scent of jasmine and always loves orchids from the graceful lady slipper to the multi-hued phalaenopsis. 


Confidentiality agreements keep Bailey mum on details of upcoming events; suffice it to say he has several large international events in the works including his own wedding to longtime partner Theo Bleckmann.


They’re still deciding on the locale and decor, but Bailey says it will be free-flowing with lots of surprises and a diverse mix of fascinating guests — his keys to a great party.  

“I love mixing different kinds of people. Mix it up, give them a drink, and they’ll work it out and have a good time,” Bailey concludes.    MARIA C. HUNT


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