It started off small—just a few women from around the community, cutting their own homegrown garden roses to spruce up the scenery at a fundraising function for St. Francis Hospital. Fast-forward four decades, and the Greenville Rose Ball has blossomed into one of the Upstate’s premier charity events.
Perhas more prominent than its nonpareil reputation for style, sophistication, and philanthropy is the Rose Ball’s collection of diverse, ethereal themes brought to life each year by local artists and designers. This year, the Poinsett Club will be transformed into a portal back in time to explore the origins of the event’s namesake in a unique fusion of East-meets-West known as “Chinoiserie.”
“The idea of this theme has really evolved over the last two years,” says Rose Ball decorations chair Wendy Wilson. “We knew we wanted to try something different, so we started looking into the history of the rose, and all early evidence of cultivation points to China.”
Though the foundation of Chinoiserie is rooted in Western culture, the aesthetic is actually a European interpretation of recurring motifs in Asian artistry: porcelain, florals, and elements of interior design. The overall result is both elegant yet whimsical, and traditional yet fun, a concept that dovetails with the ball’s decision to allow a mix of 20-plus designers to “put their own spin” on each room of the venue.
“In previous years, only one person has decorated the entire club,” Wilson says. “This year, we wanted to use different colors and decorations that match the distinct feel of each room.”
Katherine Selvy, chair of the Rose Ball and an interior designer herself, says that creating a sense of diversity has given the artists an opportunity to offer something truly unique. The designs will present a wide range of tastes, from crisp, clean whites to bright, rich colors and simple tableside floral arrangements against stunningly embellished golden centerpieces.
“All of these artists we’ve selected have different takes on what the theme is to them,” Selvy says. “But what has been interesting is how well it all still flows together.”
Decorations typically take three days to complete, with more than 100 volunteers and design professionals on hand to mold the Poinsett Club into a wonderland of beautiful blooms. Post-ball, the majority of the arrangements will be donated to local nursing homes and hospitals, where they may continue to be enjoyed. And yes, they still encourage guests to bring their own roses as tribute to the history of the “South’s Most Elegant Charitable Gala.”