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Stop and smell the roses: Moxom + Whitney

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It probably started in 2012, when couturier Raf Simons presented his collection for Dior against a floor to ceiling backdrop of fresh peonies, dahlias and orchids.  Or when flame-haired street style queen Taylor Tomasi Hill left her post at designer boutique Moda Operandi to become a florist.  But sometime, somehow, flowers have become fashionable again.

That’s not to say that they ever really went away.  But with the rise of Instagram and other forms of social media which allow us to share our personal lives, there’s an increased focus on staying in and entertaining; baking beautiful macarons, assembling artful cheese platters and blogging about it all afterwards.  Party girls have become house-proud and they need fresh flowers to impress their guests (read: Instagram followers).

“It’s like kids who don’t go out clubbing anymore,” says Lou Moxom of Canberra’s “it” florist, Moxom + Whitney.  “You run the risk of someone racially abusing you, punching you in the back of your head, spiking your drink – you lose all your money – why would you do it?  People are sort of reverting to a simpler life.  No one wants anything overly arranged, it’s just pretty and free and there’s no manipulating the flowers.”

Indeed, flowers have been infused with an eclectic, street style aesthetic; the bouquets are asymmetrical with Ikebana-esque branches jutting out at angles; vintage elements like ranunculus and peonies are paired with succulents and seed pods for a modern twist.

“We don’t have gerberas here, we don’t have iris, and a lot of customers will say they don’t want those things,” Lou says. “The consumer is getting cleverer, and they’re doing their research.”

Gone are the days of formulaic flower arrangements and traditional ball-shaped wedding bouquets; brides use Pinterest to garner inspiration from all over the globe, and the likes of Megan Dunlap (@victoryblooms),Taylor Tomasi Hill (@tthblooms) and Australia’s own Holly Hipwell (@theflowerdrum) and Saskia Havekes (@grandiflora_sydney) are leading the charge on Instagram.

“She’s like the Madonna of flowers,” Lou says of Saskia.

“I think people want things that are individual,” adds Belinda, the ‘Whitney’ in Moxom + Whitney.

“Any given day you can go out and get three gerberas in a box with some spear grass. We use whatever’s fresh, whatever’s available. Don’t buy three gerberas in a box.”

Flowers have also literally become fashion, with the most fabulous among us creating fascinators out of fresh flowers and hipster gentlemen even adorning their beards with blooms.

“If you’re going to put flowers in your hair, you want long lasting because your head is very hot, and of course it’s the first thing that the sun is going to beat down on. So orchids, anything tropical or native, air plants and succulents are amazing,” Lou says.

But while the trend has well and truly taken hold in Sydney and Melbourne, it’s yet to trickle into Canberra.

“Think outside the box.  It takes one cool, awesome chick or guy to do it and then the rest of Canberra will follow.”

Another global trend that Lou and Belinda have brought to Canberra is the Lonely Bouquet movement.  Florists and artistic individuals leave bouquets around town for lucky people to pick up and post on Instagram with the tag #lonelybouquet.

“There’s a note (with the bouquet) and it says ‘I’m a lonely bouquet, please adopt me.’  You just leave them randomly around, so the idea is if you get it you just take a picture and share it,” says Lou.

But as much as the two might go hand-in-hand these days, floristry and social media don’t always mix.  Lou tells me how Moxom + Whitney’s Instagram account was shut down after they posted a picture of a terrarium featuring frolicking naked figurines.

“You have to read all their handy hints on how to be a good person, and you have to agree to be a good person (before they will restore your account),” she laughs.

Of course, it’s not all about hashtags and selfies and smartphones.   I interview Belinda and Lou in their shop, and while I’m there a man comes in to buy sunflowers for his wife, a woman buys herself a terrarium as a housewarming present and a teenage boy spends twenty minutes choosing an orchid to take to a friend’s tea party.  Lou and Belinda chat to all of them like they’re old friends; jealously admiring clothes that were purchased overseas, giving tips on how to make cut flowers last longer (dip ends in boiling water, add brown sugar to the vase) and of course, advising on flower choices.

And that’s the thing—as much as social media might dictate the trends, keep us connected and ensure we’re up to date with international fashion, you can’t smell the scent of a rose through a screen.

And smelling the roses is what it’s all about… #amiright?

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