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Floral fashions for the holiday table

By THERESE JAMORA-GARCEAU, The Philippine STAR Published Dec 04, 2020 4:00 pm

Univers x Fiori di Marghi, a collaboration between Jappy Gonzalez and Margarita Forés, has resulted in floralscapes relevant to the times.

Plantitos and plantitas with a fashionable bent have the ultimate decorative holiday item in Univers x Fiori di Marghi, a collaboration between Mark “Jappy” Gonzalez’s multi-brand fashion boutique and Margarita Forés’ flower-arranging company.

Forés’ sculptural floralscapes for Fiori di M will rest in vases from Univers brands Skultuna and Astier de Villatte: Skultuna is a 400-year-old brass manufacturer founded by King Karl IX of Sweden that still supplies metal ware to the Swedish royal court; Astier de Villatte is a Parisian studio keeping the tradition of 18th-century artisanal ceramic production alive with its French and Tibetan clay artists.

 Margarita Forés, the floral sculptor behind Fiori di Marghi

Gonzalez, an expert curator who founded H&F Retail Concepts and was named one of the Business of Fashion’s Top 500 in 2017, said he chose both brands for their high quality and timelessness.

His collaboration with Cibo founder and Asia’s Best Female Chef of 2016 Forés was sparked when he thought of Christmas, “and how Univers can help the spirit come into the lives of our clients. We don’t offer any holiday-inspired merchandise, so this partnership came about.

“Univers has a modern and contemporary set of visual values,” he notes, “and we feel that Fiori di M represents the same.”

  Mark "Jappy" Gonzalez, the man behind fashion-forward boutique Univers

Forés, meanwhile, says that their collaboration is a real blessing for her. “Astier de Villatte — as well as Astier de Villatte collaborations with John Derian — and Skultuna have always been staples in my home, so the opportunity to create floralscapes on these exquisite vases is a welcome challenge and a real gift,” she says. “Jappy’s and my aesthetic senses have always been aligned, so I am truly thankful for the chance to be part of this collaborative effort to bring a new touch to the home for the holidays.”

Since there’s such a bond of trust between the two friends, Gonzalez left Forés pretty much on her own. “Our only directive was that she would interpret the spirit of the holidays.” 


Forés worked for the first time with dried and preserved blooms and foliage — a conscious choice because she wanted to be more relevant to these challenging times.

 Univers’ Skultuna and Astier de Villatte vases hold Fiori di M’s floralscapes.

“The arrangements are meant to complement the beautiful vases of Astier de Villatte, Astier de Villatte with John Derian, and Skultuna; thus the color palette is not so literally Christmas in red and green, but still festive and rich, to help showcase the beautiful vases,” she says. “The arrangements are meant to last through the whole holiday season and even longer, to espouse sustainability and relevance.”

Her color story involves autumnal shades of deep orange, squash yellow and browns “depicting the shades of New England or Tuscany when the leaves are turning to shimmery gold, amber, bronze and walnut. We also showcase deep greens, eucalyptus gray and even charcoal juxtaposed against Christmas whites and ivory. Plums and deep reds celebrate Christmas but in a most subtle way.”

To highlight the vases from Univers, Forés’ chose to work with dried and preserved hydrangeas and proteas, aromatic eucalyptus in a variety of colors and shapes, Christmas berries and ilex in burnt reds and gilded gold, Gypsophyla, Crospedia, dried and tinted misted, and dried mini-roses to add texture and layers to the creations.

 White and gold Christmas: Forés used dried and preserved blooms and foliage to be more relevant to the times.  All festive arrangements are available at Univers and

“When I created Fiori di Marghi in 1999, it was always my intention to create an alternative concept for floral creation and sculpting,” Forés’ says. “It has always been my goal to create sustainable arrangements that use at least 40 percent of either live plants like succulents or orchids, nature’s discards like tree bark, flower pods, fallen twigs, bagging vines and dried leaves, or other materials that could be used for a different purpose, like fruits and vegetables. The aesthetic has always been organic and earthy, and clearly relevant for the times, most especially today.” 

In terms of flower arranging, as with most things, Forés believes that less is more. “I am definitely a minimalist because I am a Filipina, creating floral arrangements in the Philippines, where we need to be more prudent,” she notes. “The honor of being able to create arrangements now using dried and preserved materials, to showcase timeless and forever vases made by these iconic brands, is priceless and timely.”

She knows that a floral arrangement is done “when everything has fallen right. The number of elements used in any arrangement should never be more than just three, or four.”

For Forés, a great floralscape reflects good proportion, a unique aesthetic, “and as I have always emphasized, express sustainability.”

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Univers x Fiori di Marghi’s festive arrangements are available online at and in store at Univers, One Rockwell, with a two-week lead-time for fulfilling orders.