Peonies And Petunias — 5 Indians At The Forefront Of Luxury Floristry

Peonies And Petunias — 5 Indians At The Forefront Of Luxury Floristry

Living in a three bedroom apartment with two balconies overlooking the not-so-wild, concrete expanse of the city, my access to flowers was limited to public gardens, hill station outings and environmental science textbooks.

Of course, there was the occasional marigold that appeared with the sole purpose of marking festivities at home and the much too familiar scent of jasmine that I still associate with traffic signals and long jet-black hair of Indian women in crowded marketplaces. But that’s pretty much it. My knowledge of flowers never went beyond the usual.

But every time my parents would stop by to pick up a bouquet for a close family friend or a colleague’s birthday, I’d be enamoured by the colours I saw in front of me. The flowers were strange, quite unlike and definitely prettier than what my environmental science textbook had shown me. Roses, carnations, lilies—all fresh and glossy, held together by a transparent plastic perfectly suited for the fragility of the present. Enchanted by the saccharine smell of the flower bouquet, I’d often spend the rest of the ride wondering who these florists were and how they managed to make such short-lived art seem so ethereal and magnetic. I didn’t actually think I’d ever get an answer to that question, but life comes around. I managed to track down some of the most incredible florists in the country, all pioneers in their own way, and I must say, I was quite impressed with their lives.

So if you have a few roses that need pruning or a terrace garden that seems to be all over the place, get in touch and watch them work their magic.

Location: Hyderabad

Chitra Das’ love for plants and flowers stems from her mother’s passionate gardening habits, but her interest in preserving them for prolonged durations of time is rooted in the mortality of living things that we see around us. After moving to India from Australia, which is where she grew up, Chitra would often come home to the rotten smell of flowers which had been delivered only a day earlier. Disappointed, she began looking for ways to preserve flowers, and in January 2018, launched ‘Champs Fleurs’—a bespoke floral atelier that specialises in preserving roses, and has now expanded to include others floral varieties such as baby’s-breath, English roses, hydrangeas, and carnations.

Chitra’s ‘Infinity roses’ are made from real roses of course—each handpicked when they’re at their perfect bloom and preserved using a patented four-step process that takes about 3-6 weeks. The process also involves a colour infusing process that allows her to create Pantone shades as well.

Inspired by the Paris’ iconic avenue Champs-Élysées and her admiration for flowers, Chitra initially settled on the name ‘Champs de Fleurs’. However, a vendor misprinted the name as ‘Champs Fleurs’ instead and Chitra decided to go with it! Currently working out of a champagne cellar in Hyderabad, Champs Fleurs’ latest collection called ‘Wonder-tale’ is a visual delight, reminiscent of the 18th-century fairytale Beauty and the Beast’s latest movie adaptation.

You can find Champs Fleurs on Instagram.

Location: Mumbai

Contrary to what you might be thinking, Petals Deas lived the life of a successful fashion stylist much before she started her own luxury floral arrangements venture (her name is a pure coincidence, she admits). From clothing style to house interiors, her own personal aesthetic as a fashion stylist often seeped into every other part of her life. This strong design sensibility combined with her love for picking out fresh flowers urged her to take a course at Jane Packer Flowers in London. Velvet Ribbon was born shortly after.

Petals uses flowers that are exotic and seasonal, however, she does prefer sticking to the same colour palette. She likes to play around with hydrangeas, and mix different kinds of orchids with chrysanthemums, but roses have a special place in her heart. Some of her most popular arrangements include the Enchanted Garden arrangement, Midnight in Paris arrangement, and her long box arrangements which also double up as centrepieces for cocktail parties. Unlike hand bouquets, Petals’ flower arrangements come in boxes, making them the perfect gift that lasts longer than regular flower bouquets.

You can visit Velvet Ribbon’s website for more information.

Location: Delhi

A candid decision to get his old couch (which, for some reason, his dog abhorred) chopped up and turned into planters is what, quite literally, laid the foundation stones for Karan’s dual business of urban terrace gardening and floral arrangements. He planted a set of tomatoes to inaugurate his new planter and the twelve tomatoes that sprouted soon after confirmed his destiny.

To him, gardening has always been an incredibly therapeutic experience. Growing up in an urban jungle like Delhi, where most people have zilch knowledge about where their food comes from or just how many pesticides are there in it, urged Karan to turn his favourite pastime into a full-fledged career option.

Karan’s second vertical of floristry, called Twelve Kisses, is definitely what Karan is most known for. His training in design, an acute sense of aesthetic and colours, and appreciation for plants and flowers alike led him to launch this. Karan mostly uses seasonal and locally available flowers for his luxury bouquets. However, if a client demands an imported flower, he is more than willing to step out of his comfort zone and source it from specialised importers. Each bouquet is handcrafted personally by Karan himself and often comes with surprise elements from his personal terrace garden as well.

His favourite arrangements are undoubtedly the one he prepared during Spring, using a riot of every possible bloom. They’re colourful, a little wild, and are sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone receiving it.

You can get in touch with Karan through Twelve Tomatoes’ Instagram page.

Location: Mumbai

Sanea Sheikh lives the double life of model and a florist—both professions deeply reflective of her style and visual sensibilities. While being a model is not all that easy—she often spends weeks travelling from one place to another, each time traversing a different corner of the world, she does take time out to come home and unwind in the company of her little garden. That, and three cats named Posh, Spanky, and Momo.

Sanea’s relatively new floral delivery service is called Botany and unlike most other florists out there, she is extremely particular about the kind of flowers she works with. She doesn’t gamble with roses or even cellophane, for that matter (her flowers are held together by brown paper); instead, she personally picks wildflowers from across Maharashtra’s pregnant countryside, familiarising herself with the verdant landscape every time she visits these places.

If you scroll through Botany’s Instagram, you’ll be met with a burst of colours and several floral presentations using flowers like deep red celosias, blue daisies, Lady’s Lace, sunflowers, cabbage flowers, eucalyptus leaves, and lots of foliage. Having completed a course at the Indian Floral Design School, each unique, well thought-out design is a product of long hours that Sanea puts in. And if flowers don’t appeal to you as much, we’d still recommend visiting her website for the quirky names of the floral arrangements. The Dirty Brunch, Sunny Side Up, and the Wild Child Bohemian bouquet are a few of her most cherished ones.

You can get in touch with Botany on Instagram.

Location: Mumbai

Zina Mody’s love affair with flowers began in a land far, far away—London, where she was busy getting an Economics degree. But that did not stop her from wandering through the city’s flower shops in her free time. After moving back to India, she dived into professional floristry and spent a good five years carving a niche for herself in an already niche industry, before finally setting up a home for her flower business, called Bloom Room, in Colaba.

From corporate events and parties to personalised floral arrangements for her friends and other clients, Zina first found herself experimenting with flowers as a little child asked to adorn festival giveaways for her family and friends. As fate would have it, an innocent hobby turned into something much bigger than what she’d imagined.

At Bloom Room, you can walk in at any time of the day and get a customised bouquet to go. Or pick up a few single fresh and dried flower corsages to tie around presents. For those interested, Zina also specialises in selling beautiful cacti plants, despite all the superstitions that come with it. However, what makes her floristry stand out from the rest is the amount of effort Zina puts into looking for unconventional containers for her flowers. From regal wine glasses to endearing glass cloches and nostalgic mason jars with their striped straws, Zina’s flowers come in the most unexpected shapes and sizes.

You can get in touch with Bloom Room on their Facebook page.

Feature Image Courtesy: Champs Fleur

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