Jeff Leatham usually arranges flowers for celebrities like Cher, Kim Kardashian or Tina Turner. Now the “flower designer of the stars” has curated orchids for the botanical garden in New York.
New York – Again and again Jeff Leatham picks up a sheet of paper or snaps a picture of a flower with his cell phone. “Everywhere you look, you see amazing things,” says the 50-year-old flower designer. “I also feel like a journalist right now who is seeing all this for the first time.”
Leatham – with a cowboy hat, fringed jacket and lots of jewelry – actually came to the botanical garden in New York to show numerous journalists the orchid exhibition “Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope”, which he curated. From February 26th to May 1st, the show will be on view in the tropically warm and green overgrown greenhouse of the Bronx facility – on the second attempt after a first in 2020 was shortened by the pandemic.
Normally Leatham puts together extraordinary flower arrangements for stars like Kim Kardashian, Cher, Tina Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Janet Jackson or Kylie Minogue and for posh hotels in Paris or Los Angeles. “When I think of flowers, I think of Jeff,” Kardashian is quoted as saying on his website. Cher hailed him as a “genius” and Winfrey as “the best florist of all time.”
With a huge wow effect
Designing the exhibition in the botanical garden was “humbling” and “educational” for him, says Leatham, who comes from the US state of Utah, started his career as a model and has also designed candles and perfume, for example.
“When I’m working with my famous clients or on big events, I’m seen as the master, the guy who can come in and create. But this is educational for me, I keep learning from the team here because I can design a big show with a huge wow factor, but they can teach me what I can and can’t use, what sticks and what not and what varieties I can get.”
Working with Leatham was great fun, said the Botanical Garden’s orchid boss, Marc Hachadourian, in return. “People can do a lot with his ideas.”
Orchids are among Leatham’s favorite flowers – the designer raves about “their beauty, their storytelling ability, their sensuality and their sexuality”. “Orchids have a very special place in my design and my heart, I now have my own orchid at home and my mother too – that’s something very personal for me.” His very favorite orchid: the so-called lady’s slipper.
lover of bright colors
In the greenhouse of the New York Botanical Garden, where the orchid show is an annual spring tradition, Leatham spent several weeks arranging thousands of orchids – in green, orange, purple and yellow, the plants grow out of the ground or hang from the ceiling. “I’m a big lover of bright colors and I wanted to build this up to be waves of orchids – very sexy.”
Some of the flowers are also reflected in specially installed silver kaleidoscope mirrors or in ponds, alongside artistically arranged petals. “I love it when petals fall. Everyone always calls the housekeeper immediately to clean it up, but I always say: No, that’s nature.” He wants to arouse emotions with his floral works, says Leatham. “The show should be a place of peace and tranquility – you can never go wrong with that.” dpa