The Modern Debutante brings photo-worthy backdrops to Baton Rouge

Flower and hedge walls, designed for taking photos in front of, are trending at businesses and events across the country. The movable backdrops are made of synthetic leaves, color-coordinated flowers and sometimes neon signs.  

You’ll probably start seeing them around Baton Rouge more than ever, in part thanks to The Modern Debutante, a venture launched by Danielle Whatley and Diana Raffray 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 children’s boutique Olly-Olly, and was featured in the Flower Fest at Pointe-Marie last month. 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 weddings and bridal and baby showers. There’s been a growing interest in birthday installations, Raffray says.

Each wall can take anywhere from three days to three weeks to construct, depending on how much customization a client requests. 

“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 noticed the flower-wall trend on 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 have received requests from as far away as Natchez.

This story first ran in 225 magazine, see the original story, with photos of The Modern Debutante’s decorations, here. Subscribe to the free 225 Daily e-newsletter to keep up with Baton Rouge food and events.