Hattie Molloy is not like other florists.
“I’ve always wanted to push the boundaries,” she says. “My mentality has always been why do something if it’s already been done?”
Molloy brought this signature bold approach to the new installation she designed for the immersive Maleficent: Mistress of Evil dinner at Cutler & Co, a special one-off event hosted by Broadsheet and Disney. The event celebrated the release of the new film, which sees the return of Angelina Jolie as the misunderstood Maleficent and Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora. This time they are joined by Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith, a new provocateur who threatens the peace of the magical Moors; an enchanted forest kingdom ruled by Maleficent and Aurora.
Andrew McConnell’s fine diner put on a one-off, sprawling banquet inspired by the theme “good and evil”, a culinary extension of a scene in the film depicting a disastrous banquet at Queen Ingrith’s palace. The film, which is chock full of creeping vines, thorny roses and lush moss, provided rich visual inspiration for a living art installation.
“It was the environment in the film that I found inspiring,” Molloy says. “I wanted to play on good and evil [as represented by] the setting and having different textures throughout the piece.”
Molloy’s elaborate floral sculpture also plays on the contrast between Maleficent and Princess Aurora. She specifically chose to include coloured heliconias to represent Maleficent’s unique profile. “They’re a tropical flower which I can paint or manipulate to remind us of her horns,” she says.
It goes without saying that this isn’t the kind of static arrangement you’d see sitting on a dining table – if a plant could be described as dramatic, then that’s what this is. Cascading greenery props up small, pastel-coloured flowers (the kind that you can imagine a Disney Princess gathering in the forest), juxtaposed with blood red roses dipped in black paint.
“The arrangement starts off quite whimsical, soft and flowy,” she says. “It ends up being dark – structural, stark and harsh.” This balance of “moss and spring flowers” with “moody florals and botanical elements” also includes a nod to the general woodland feel of the film’s fantastical Moors setting, with twigs splayed out at all angles.
Like the main characters in the film, Molloy has always felt an emotional pull to the natural world. It was the realisation of a childhood dream to work with flowers. “It’s instinctive for me – it’s what I always wanted to do,” she says. “As a child I’d go on walks and climb fences and pick people’s flowers to make arrangements.”
Through a process of “trial and error”, she developed her own unorthodox style; one that is less concerned with pretty posies than with manipulating flowers and other elements to create striking organic sculptures.
Molloy currently works out of a studio on Johnston Street in Collingwood, where she uses the shopfront as a space to indulge her artistic streak – like cultivating clover in five tonnes of red sand. “It’s an experimental space where I get to do whatever I want,” she says. “It’s not dependent on a client or a brief or budget; it’s just whatever crazy ideas I have.”
Twice a week she rises at 2.45am to drive to Melbourne Market in Epping. Despite the obscenely early start, it’s an aspect of the job she loves. “You have this weird bond with people, especially when you’re up at that time in the morning,” she says. “They’re such characters at the market – I like the banter.”
Molloy thrives on the unpredictability of running her own floristry business. No day is ever the same, she says. “I couldn’t sit down at a computer all day.” Working with flowers also exposes her to the rhythm of the seasons in a way that’s impossible when you spend your daylight hours in an office cubicle. “You appreciate nature so much more.”
To Molloy, the advent of spring means the arrival of some of her favourite blooms at the markets. “I love bearded iris, and there are some beautiful poppies at the moment,” she says.
She’s particularly fond of wisteria, a fragrant violet bloom that appears alongside forget-met-nots, delphiniums and roses in her Maleficent: Mistress of Evil installation. “My parents had a wisteria at my first house,” she says. “I remember being a kid running around underneath it. I loved how the petals would drop, and there would be a purple carpet underneath it. It was so beautiful.”
It’s this nostalgic pull that makes flowers such a powerful medium to work with. “Most flowers that people love remind them of something in their childhood – they have a strong memory attached to them,” she says.
Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is in cinemas from October 17.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Disney.