The “Rockstar” Of Floristry’s Visit To Australia
Koch invited me to review the highlights of Jeff Leatham’s recent demonstration in Sydney which I attended after winning a competition on the Koch & Co Facebook page. It’s exciting because not only do I get to talk about my favourite topic, but I get to share my experience of meeting one of the industries most renowned and loved designers, Jeff Leatham.
Early in the morning I headed to the Intercontinental Hotel in Double Bay – I’m a Canberra girl so that meant getting up at 3am in the morning (it was totally worth it!). Entering the room where the seminar was being held, you could see masses of flowers covering the stage area. One side was a sea of white – the other beautiful shades of pinks, reds and purples. It was beautiful. We took our seats and waited for the star of the show to arrive.
One of the things that was clear in the first couple of minutes of meeting Jeff, is how humble a person he is. As he stood in front of his captivated audience you could see he was just so grateful to be here in Australia and to have such support from the florists, designers and stylists all gathered to see him.
He begun by introducing himself and talking about how he got to where he is today – crazy as it seems flowers were not always something he was interested in. It was only when he entered the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris 20 years ago (where he still works today) that he saw the potential flowers have to create such a lasting impression.
Currently Jeff splits his time between the George V in Paris and New York where he has a team that do installations and big event work, working alongside stars such as Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Tina Turner.
You could see how much passion and love he has for what he does, and he really has such a great respect for his team and the people who work in the trade. He is very appreciative of the people that work alongside him saying ‘you are only as good as the people who work for you’.
He was open to questions from the audience and was more than happy to respond to all the questions he was given. When he was asked what inspires him he joked saying ‘the budget, especially if I spent too much last month!’. One of the most inspirational moments was when someone asked what advise he would have given himself when he was just starting out in the industry. His response is one that really applies to all of us ‘live the dream, take the opportunity, take the risk, don’t let anybody tell you no and find a balance in your life.’
As he took us through some of his previous work the anticipation was growing and we were all wondering just how he was going to manage to use all the flowers up in the time he had left. When it came time to start working with the flowers he was very laidback, having fun getting the audience up to assist him with the designs, and dancing around to the background music.
While he put together the different aspects of his display he talked about his method when it comes to his style of design ‘no more than three different types of flowers and no more than three variations of colour’.
But the flowers are not the only important part to his designs, it was clear that having a great range of vases and pots was important in creating his designs. As he was working he grabbed three ordinary black pots and started stacked one on top of another to add height and create a new dynamic to his display, using the vases and pots to really showcase the flowers. With his combination of colours, flowers and beautiful vases his style that is very bold and striking and really showcases the beauty of the blooms.
As the morning drew to an end he commented on how privileged he is to be where he is today and that it’s because all those years ago an Australian woman hired him as a florist. He went on to say what a talented country we are, home to some of the greatest musicians, artists and designers “there’s so much talent here in Australia, there’s definitely something in the water”.
At the end we all got to meet Jeff in person and get a photo with him and a signed copy of his book. The book is lovely and showcases all his beautiful work but after seeing his work in person all I can say is the photos do not do it justice!
Caroline Morrow is the owner of Orchid & Vine Florist in Canberra.