Florist Jeff Leatham launches two collections for the House of Waterford Crystal
There are few florists as famous — or with as many Instagram followers — as their A-list clientele, but Jeff Leatham is one of them. Not only artistic director for both the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills and the George V in Paris (where he was knighted by the French government in 2014 for his acclaimed work there), Leatham has also recently set up his own design studio and flower boutique in the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. After nearly 20 years in France, Leatham has come full circle — his studio is based right out of the very same space he first started in as a trainee in 1994. More rock star than bouquet-maker, Leatham conjures and sculpts flowers into gargantuan, mesmerising art-like installations. He thinks nothing of cascading curtains of carnations down from the ceiling, packing giant arches full of roses or filling long, tall vases with tightly bound bunches of calla lilies (set at Leatham’s signature ‘tilt’
— “I like people to see the face of the flower”). His work involves weddings in Tuscan palazzos and parties at the Palace of Versailles; clients include fashion brands like Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Elie Saab and Goyard, and loyal friends like Kylie, Cher, Oprah, and the whole Kardashian-Jenner clan. This November, Leatham launches Icon and Infinity, two new collections for the House of Waterford Crystal — first previewed exclusively for Vogue Living at a lavish dinner held in the 16th-century rooms of Waterford Castle in May. The collaboration, which includes vases, storm lanterns and drinkware, not only showcases the Irish crystal house’s 200-plus-year-old history of fine handcraftsmanship, but also breathes new life into old patterns from the archives. “I wanted to create pieces that look new but still feel like Waterford at the same time,” says Leatham. For Infinity, Leatham has oversized an original ‘caro’ (or diamond) cut to create what he calls a “punk stud”, now used to punctuate thick bands running around the middle of tall and squat barrel-shaped vases. A traditional ‘facet’ (or flat) cut has been reinterpreted so fingers and thumb sit comfortably within the long, sleek curves of arches etched around the sides of the Icon champagne flute and highball cocktail glass (the designer’s two favourite tipples). “The joke around Waterford is I wanted to get drunk with my own glasses,” he laughs.
Leatham was a jobbing actor and model in the early ’90s before landing the chance to learn the floristry ropes with Paige Dixon, the florist for the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills at the time. In 1999, only four years later, the hotel group sent him to Paris to do the flowers for the newly reopened Georges V hotel. Today, his bold, generous designs are guided by the ‘Leatham Threes’: keep things clean, simple and chic; never mix more than three types of flowers or three colours together. “Minimalism,” he says, “always catches the eye.”
Yet as much as Leatham loves working with flowers — “they bring such life and luxury to a space” — the designer has enjoyed creating something “that will last longer than four days”. He wants his Waterford pieces to be used every day, mixed together and continuously added to. “It’s about making collections and memories,” says Leatham. “I want them to still look fantastic on your table 20 years from now.” VL Jeff Leatham collections are available from January 2019 at waterfordcrystal.com.au jeffleathamflowers.com @jeffleatham
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Waterford Jeff Leatham Icon clear vase and Icon frame. Icon vase in Amethyst. Icon clear bowl. Icon clear flute.