When it comes to style, Whitney Bromberg Hawkings is the woman in the know. You’ll likely have seen her chic flowers on the dinner tables of Instagram’s most discerning fashion influencers and designers, or heard of her own brand – FLOWERBX; the London company delivering fresh cut flowers in stunning single stem arrangements.
Having left her role as the Senior VP of Communications at Tom Ford’s eponymous label to start FLOWERBX in 2016, she’s gone from success to success – landing clients including Jimmy Choo and Christian Dior, and investment from Net-a-Porter Founder Natalie Massenet.
To mark the start of her ‘Week With SheerLuxe’, we chatted to Whitney about all things that bloom...
ON HER PERSONAL TASTE:
What are your all-time favourite stems?
I don’t have a favourite – one of the greatest things about working with flowers is their inherent seasonality. In the Spring, I can’t get enough of peonies, but as I start to tire of peonies (if that’s even possible), dahlia are back with a bang, leading us to late summer when we see the reemergence of hydrangea in bright beautiful hues.
What did you go for on your wedding day?
I’m so lucky to have the famed Paris and LA-based florist, Jeff Leatham, as a friend – and he did the flowers for our wedding. We had masses of single-stemmed vases of white roses, white hydrangea, white ranunculus and white lily of the valley. I carried a simple bouquet of lily of the valley wrapped in white satin ribbon that was intoxicating and sublime.
Your ultimate Valentine’s Day bouquet?
As the owner of a flower company, no one ever sends me flowers anymore! But my favourite for Valentine's Day is FLOWERBX'’s All For Love hot pink roses; an original take on a traditional gesture.
Best flowers for gifting friends?
It really depends on the season and the reason for sending flowers. For condolences, white is the most appropriate colour, and I would usually send our White Avalanche roses, Chiffon Ranununculus, or Powder White Lisianthus.
As a thank you or as a gift of love, I would send whatever my seasonal favourite flower is, but few flowers are as crowd-pleasing as peonies – they’re always a hit (and also pretty much guarantee and Instagram post!)
Do you give flowers to men?
Absolutely. I think it’s such an old-fashioned notion that only men give women flowers, and I’m trying to change this misconception along with a lot of the other outdated notions surrounding flower-giving.
I usually favour more sculptural flowers when gifting for men, like hydrangea, arum lilies or more architectural orchids, although I’ve found that men like getting roses just as much as women do.
Any absolute no-nos?
I said I would never sell birds of paradise on the site, as I thought they were so naff, but we recently had to send a bunch of 100 in a vase to a client at the Chiltern Firehouse – when grouped together in a large cylinder vase, they looked quite powerful and chic. So, I think that any flower, when grouped en masse in a vase, can make a strong floral statement.
I have to admit I’m also not a fan of those old-fashioned bouquets of mixed flowers in tight little bunches along a table at a dinner party. A vehement dislike of this was one of the many reasons I started FLOWERBX .
ON FLOWER STYLING:
FLOWERBX are all about single stem bunches. Why so?
After 19 years in the high-end fashion industry, I was constantly asking the florists to send single stem bunches and would incessantly repeat – no filler, no mixed bunches, no baby’s breath, just single stem bunches. In the fashion world, flowers are currency, and sending the ‘right’ flowers is seen as an extension of the brand’s image – especially with the emergence of Instagram and social media, the bunch of flowers that you send will get seen by potentially thousands. I noticed that everyone who was sending flowers to the office, from Karl and Anna to Calvin and Miuccia, were sending single stem bunches, and the seeds of FLOWERBX were planted.
What are the most popular stems right now?
Ranunculus are the strongest late-winter flower, and their billowy, ethereal heads make them a runaway success.
Your rule of thumb when it comes to mixing stems?
I’m not a huge fan of mixing stems, but when we do for events, it’s imperative to keep things tonal. I also think it works best when all the flowers are the same height and there’s a certain uniformity to the arrangements – simple arrangements let the flowers be the stars.
Any tips on what vases to use?
FLOWERBX vases! We now have a vase to suit most needs, and our vase collections reflects our ethos of simplicity and elegance. We have a number of vase ranges: the Bailey Bud vases named after our floral muse, Laura Bailey; a brushed brass cylinder vase collection inspired by the London-based womenswear designer, Emilia Wickstead; or an apothecary vase collection for a simple, yet bold statement.
What about little vases for single stems?
Again, I think it’s always most impactful to keep the flowers tonal, and then it’s so effective to experiment with different heights, shapes and sizes in each bud vase to create a dramatic effect while keeping the flowers quite simple.
Which flowers have the best scent?
Peonies, paperwhites, hyacinth, and lily of the valley all have the most intoxicating scent; although my all-time favourite is tuberose.
What’s the rule when it comes to numbers?
I don’t have a rule for quantities other than ‘the more the better!’.
Quick and easy trick for arranging a bunch of blooms?
Arrange the stems in a spiral while keeping the movement going in the same direction. If you trim the stems at a 45-degree angle and make sure there are no leaves below the water-line, and change the water regularly, you’ll prolong the life of the stems by a few days.
Watch below for our easy how to with Whitney:
Do you style flowers differently in different rooms in your house?
I tend to match the flowers, both in size and colour, to the area in my house. In the entrance hall, I think tall blooms are always most impactful, while more cheerful flowers like tulips or snapdragons work beautifully in the kitchen which is, invariably, the family room.
Which flowers are great for a big, statement look?
Hydrangea always back a punch, and a bunch of FLOWERBX hydrangea, when they are in season, are the ultimate ‘wow’ gift.
What are your thoughts when mixing colour?
There are so many ways to do colour wrong (the same as in fashion). If one is not a floral artist, they should stick to tonal blooms.
What flowers would you take to a dinner party?
I would always send flowers before the dinner, as the host or hostess could then use them as part of the décor. I would send an enormous bunch of whatever the seasonal strongest flower is, and if I don’t know what the environment is like, I stick to white.
Any tips for creating a gorgeous centrepiece?
The easiest way to make a statement for a centrepiece is to group a bunch of one type of seasonal flower together – the more the better. I also usually tend to keep things tonal, and with these rules in mind, it’s hard to go wrong.
How do you like to dress your table when you have guests for dinner?
Flowers set the mood for a dinner party and are the ultimate accessory. The same way a bag, sunglasses and shoes can completely transform the look of a little black dress in a thousand different ways, flowers can completely transform the mood of a party by conveying lushness, modernity, romanticism, starkness, femininity etc. I decide on the mood I want to create and choose the flowers far before I decide what food I’m going to serve.
ON VALENTINE’S DAY:
What’s a great alternative to red roses?
Our Schiaparelli Pink Ranunculus, All for Love Roses, or French Kiss tulips are all great alternatives to traditional Valentine’s offerings.
What’s the most popular with FLOWERBX clients?
The old-fashioned red rose as a symbol of love is still, by far, the most popular Valentine’s Day gift.
ON HOUSE PLANTS:
FLOWERBX now sell house plants. Any tips for incorporating the botanical trend into your home?
Plants instantly liven up an environment and are a more long-lasting alternative to weekly fresh cut flowers. The FLOWERBX plant collection has been carefully selected so that each variety echoes the our ethos of pared back simplicity – we’ve done the leg work for you, so all one has to do is order and enjoy.
What are your thoughts on the cacti and succulents trends?
I think they work well in certain environments, but I’ll always choose flowers over a succulent