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FOR MANY PEOPLE, the word “spring” conjures up images of new growth, flowers and the promise of warm weather to come. For Meryl Snow, vice president of Berwyn, Pa.-based Feastivities Catered Events, it also brings to mind another image: hats. At least it did for a fashion-show fund-raiser held in March at the Willows Estate in Radnor, Pa. Feastivities had already been picked as the caterer for the lunchtime event, but with the client's blessing, the company decided to use the occasion to launch its floral division. With hats on their minds, the Feastivities team set out to create floral designs that would get guests talking — and giving generously.

While the client wanted a springtime theme for the event, “We didn't want to do the typical carved fruit and flowers,” Snow explains. Since the fund-raiser was showcasing the latest styles on the runway, only the most stylish floral fashions would do. The plan? To dress tables with centerpieces of whimsical wig forms — covered in natural materials such as rice paper and legumes — crowned with hats created using springtime blooms such as roses, daisies and snapdragons.

In order to create the centerpieces — which Feastivities playfully named “The Ladies” — white Styrofoam heads were covered in glue and rolled in different edible materials, including lentils and split peas. This was no easy task, Snow says, noting, “A lentil, it turns out, is a little thing to hold.” Each head was then topped with a hat made from springtime blossoms: “Camilla” wore a cloche of yellow and white daisies, while “Gabriella” wore a porkpie hat trimmed with leaves and buds.

Making the heads appear to float above the tables, rather than rest on top of them, was another design goal. Each head was “planted” in a base of vivid green wheat grass using a wooden dowel stake, which then disappeared among the blades of grass. To enhance the natural design scheme, tables were covered in neutral burlap linen that didn't compete with the heads, while the square shape of the tables reinforced the boxes of wheat grass that held the centerpieces. “We wanted to keep the table design simple because we really wanted the heads to pop,” Snow notes.

When guests entered the venue's table-filled solarium for lunch, “They buzzed about the room looking at every design, touching the heads and trying to figure out how they seemed to be floating,” Snow says. “It was just the reaction we wanted.” And while it wasn't part of the floral design, even the dessert got in on the hat-happy theme, thanks to Feastivities' pastry chef's caramel spun-sugar “hat,” decked out with a strawberry, leaf and flower garnish.

Feastivities Catered Events 814 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, PA 19312; 610/889-0750;

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