The Modern Debutante’s installations are bringing vibrancy to local events and businesses

Flower and hedge walls have become a huge trend at businesses and events across the country. The moveable backdrops are made of rich green synthetic leaves, color-coordinated flowers and sometimes even neon signs. At restaurants, events and businesses, they add color, personality and liveliness. And, yes, they’re just perfectly Instagrammable.

You’ll probably start seeing them around Baton Rouge now more than ever, in part thanks to The Modern Debutante. Danielle Whatley and Diana Raffray launched the new venture in August 2020.

Earlier this year, The Modern Debutante created a permanent installation for the bar at Soji: Modern Asian. The floor-to-ceiling design is made with tropical palm leaves. The business is also working on a design for Olly-Olly, a local children’s boutique. It was featured in the Flower Fest at Pointe-Marie last month, and it will be part of the Best Dressed Ball in August.

“We like doing community things,” Raffray says. Whatley adds, “Everyone’s looking for a photo opportunity at every event, and so providing that for your guests is essential these days.”

The Modern Debutante’s services have been in demand at events like weddings and bridal and baby showers, and there’s been a growing interest in birthday installations, Raffray says.

The hedge walls are the most popular and are customizable, Raffray says, and can be upgraded with neon lights. The business also creates Shimmer Walls in shades of gold, silver or purple. The metallic displays seem to move when they catch the light.

The Modern Debutante’s permanent tropical installation at Soji: Modern Asian

The founders hope to offer even more wall styles later this year.

Each wall can take anywhere from three days to three weeks to construct, depending on how many individual touches a customer wants on them.

“Big shoutout to our husbands,” Whatley says, “they help us put walls together from scratch, and they’ve been helping us at every level.”

Whatley and Raffray were friends in college and reconnected about five years ago when they found out they were living down the street from each other. Eventually, they got around to planning a business together.

“We were thinking about the things we liked to do, and throwing parties kept coming up,” Raffray says. “We started thinking about what we liked about parties, and it was the satisfaction and joy we got from entertaining our guests.”

When they started to notice the flower-wall trend floating around social media, they decided to try their hands at it.

The goal of the walls is to bring that extra-special something to the party, Whatley says.

“Having that inspiration and love for people leaving your party saying ‘I want to do that,’ is something we wanted everyone to have,” Whatley says.

Now, their business is growing beyond Baton Rouge. The founders have brought flower walls to events in New Orleans and Gretna, and they have gotten requests from as far away as Natchez.

No matter how big they get, though, their goal stays the same.

“The walls bring that wow factor,” Raffray says. “That’s what we want. We want everyone to leave the party thinking, ‘That was really cool.’ That’s what The Modern Debutante is all about.” themoderndeb.com 

This article was originally published in the May 2021 issue of 225 magazine.