Fashion's Latest Foray: Floral Design
From former Teen Vogue editor Taylor Tomasi's TTH Blooms to Tom Ford PR director Adam Wilkie's London-based Flowerbx, the style set is making a switch from the front row to the flower shop.
There’s a new occupation du jour for the style set. Floral design—once the near exclusive purview of bookish older gentleman clad in comfortable shoes—is fast becoming an "it" career for fashion industry exiles and stylish urbanites from Echo Park to Park Slope.
The profession’s unlikely journey from staid to stylish is due in part to a handful of high-profile fashion pros who’ve recently quit front rows for flower shows (even the Cut wrote a hilarious ode to Instagram-famous florists and their seemingly idyllic lives on Tuesday). Their defections—coupled with a growing cadre of press-savvy young florists also touting legit fashion credentials—are giving the flower trade a major facelift. And, in the process, forging stout ties between the two industries.
No one makes pruning and clipping look more glamorous than Taylor Tomasi Hill, the flame-haired former Marie Claire and Teen Vogue editor whose recent pivot from editor and street style star to fashion’s favorite florist was covered breathlessly (in two full pages) by Elle, by Vogue.com and on just about every notable style website.
Tomasi Hill, who didn’t return a request for comment (to be fair, she’s a brand new mom), told Elle she knew she “wouldn’t be in fashion forever.” But she’s successfully leveraged the colossal social media numbers she earned as an A-plus street style star to grow TTH Blooms’ Instagram following to a whopping 44,000.
Adam Wilkie also recently exited a high-profile fashion gig to pursue floral ambitions. After an eight-year stint as Tom Ford’s PR director for Europe, the Middle East, India and Australia, Wilkie launched Flowerbx, a London-based company that delivers affordable, fresh cut loose flowers, ordered through the company’s website and/or soon-to-be-launched mobile app.
“I saw this trend of people having a single varietal of flowers in a vase in their homes,” says Wilkie, who’s not a floral designer but rather a lifelong connoisseur of blooms. “I would rather have a vase full of hydrangeas than someone’s artistic interpretation of a bouquet; there’s a crowd of people who don’t need someone to arrange their flowers for them.” The service, which also offers by-the hour floral design services, debuted in London in the last week of March, and will expand to other urban markets, including Los Angeles, if all goes well.
Offering a simple, chic alternative to the traditional multi-flower bouquet delivery model, “was always something I wanted to do,” he says. And like Tomasi Hill, Wilkie brings his fashion toolbox to his floral endeavor: “There will be an editorial reel for Flowerbx, and lots of inspirational content on the website…I can still operate in the world I’ve established myself in, and use my editorial know-how. It’s all luxury at the end of the day. I’m not really leaving fashion.”
Marisa Competello, a former assistant to Joe Zee and other big-name stylists, founded Meta Flora floral design studio in 2013, and agrees that fashion and floral design dovetail neatly, and often. “Even though I’ve left the [fashion] world, those people are my clients, which I love,” she says.
The act of arranging flowers, she adds, “is similar to styling—it’s gathering things and putting them together. It’s about color, silhouette and shape.” But there’s less stress in finessing petals than finagling fabric, she reports: “Doing flowers is a lot more mellow than fashion.”
Young-and-stylish Echo Park floral designers Maurice Harris of Bloom and Plume and Kristen Caissie of Moon Canyon Design Co. (both subjects of a notably lengthy article in July’s W magazine) are new favorites with L.A.’s fashion flock—and both, coincidentally worked as retail window display managers for major brands.
Harris, who counts fashion designer Jenni Kayne and interior designer Estee Stanley among his clients, worked the windows at Barneys New York. While Caissie, whose client roster includes handbag designer Clare Vivier and jewelry designer Kathryn Bentley, did a stint at Anthropologie.
Freelance fashion writer Lisa Przystup, owner of New York’s James’s Daughter Flowers, began thinking seriously about launching her own floral business when she “started to notice, every single cool stylish Brooklyn girl was doing flowers”—an observation she pitched and wrote about for New York Magazine’s The Cut blog.
A mere year after launching her company, Przystup names fashion brands Claire V., Madewell and Everlane among her favorite clients, and has been featured as a style star on Steven Alan’s blog, Elle.com, and Into the Gloss. Fashion and flowers, she says, “go hand-in-hand. In the end, it’s a shared love of designing and creating aesthetically beautiful things.”
The model-esque writer and designer concedes with a laugh that, "Floral design has become something of a thing," recently.
Of course fashion and flowers have been cozy bedfellows forever, even before Coco Chanel fell madly in love with camellias—Chanel’s official blossom to this day. But, increasingly, it’s not only the fashion designer who’s basking in the glory of a well-executed event or fashion show.
The nebbish clutching the pruning shears has, at long last, come out from behind the curtain. Only now he’s a hot-ass hipster.