Thierry Boutemy: Floral Artistry

Fashion’s Premier Florist Reveals the Secrets of a Perfect Bouquet

Florist du jour Thierry Boutemy opens up his chimerical workshop in downtown Brussels for photographer Estelle Hanania. Growing up in the lush green pastures of rural Normandy amidst primroses, daffodils and wood anemones, Boutemy’s career blossomed after moving to Belgium 15 years ago to start his own business, Floriste. After working on Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette, Boutemy became a sought after figure in the deluxe fashion scene, and has since collaborated with Mario Testino for the Lady Gaga cover of American Vogue last March and the likes of Lanvin, Dior and Dries Van Noten. “I try to move away from a predefined need,” Boutemy explains of his compositions. “Each bouquet should have an impulsive, imperfect feel to it. It’s a two-way discussion.” Away from his high-profile assignments, Boutemy can be found quietly composing arrangements peppered with buttercups, stems of wheat, branches and raw foliage for the birthday and anniversary requests of local clients. “Flowers, like life, must happen organically,” he says. “Complications make everything less interesting.” Here the quietly spoken Frenchman, who is currently collaborating on Michel Gondry’s next film L’Écume des Jours, recommends the right flowers for life’s momentous occasions and remembers some of his favorite bouquets.

For weddings
Simplicity. I’ve just done a wedding, and the couple didn’t want to overdo it, which I think is best. There is no need for frills around such an event. All I used were flowering cherry tree branches. Effortless.

For Marie Antoinette
To each epoch its bouquet. You can tell by looking at flowers in a painting or a photograph when it was made. A 1980s flower bunch is nothing like a 1960s one. As for the 18th-century, it was an era I researched when working on Marie Antoinette. It is a time I always had a personal attraction for. Nothing needlessly sophisticated, we only used “natural” flowers of the time.

For birthdays 
Wild. Spontaneous. Nothing holding you back. I’d go for something very colorful, and definitely not sweet. I would mix wild or natural flowers, always seasonal. Poppies would be good. Definitely no roses or orchids.

For Lady Gaga

Mario Testino is extraordinary. He spotted my work in Milan and called five years later for a photo shoot. He has a real sensitivity. He is an aesthete. For the Gaga shoot in Vogue, he let me do whatever I wanted. I had all the material I had preselected, but came up with the design on the spot—which is how I prefer to work. Nothing premeditated. I chose something leafy and ephemeral, very wild. It looked extremely simple, although it wasn’t.

For Sofia Coppola
Ah, Coppola! Sofia is someone very important to me. Our collaboration happened in a natural, soft way. She is a beautiful person and I owe her a lot. After working on Marie Antoinette––which was a real springboard for me––I went on to do her wedding. She invited me to attend the ceremony, which almost never happens. I was very touched. There was a natural understanding between us; we spoke little but were on the same wavelength. She is extremely grounded, normal, and so is her husband [Thomas Mars of the band Phoenix].

For saying sorry
Nothing. Flowers cannot serve as an apology. In fact, buying anything to say sorry bothers me. The only thing you can do is pluck a flower yourself.

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Conversations (2)

  • Param
    Life becomes beautiful when you can live in simplicity. A wonderful article and love the simplistic shot of the shop.
    • Posted By Param
    • February 28, 2012 at 11:27PM
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  • Rene Devlin
    But he didn't say anything specific about what kind of flowers he does for Sofia Coppola!
    • Posted By Rene Devlin
    • February 28, 2012 at 9:56AM
    • Share Comment:

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