Dial the contact number at JeffLeatham.com, and you’ll get... Jeff Leatham. That is... if the rock star of the floral world isn’t occupied with such humbling matters as being made a Chevalier of the French Légion d’Honneur.
Knighthood hasn’t made Leatham—known for TLC’s “Flowers Uncut” reality series and for imbuing celebrity weddings with floral artistry—any less committed to his “day” job. “I am probably the most loyal person you would meet,” says the Artistic Director of Four Seasons HotelGeorge V, Paris, who needed a job 20 years ago and found employment—and a new talent—at the flower shop at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Orchestrating openings around the world and sustaining the Four Seasons Hotel George V’s fame as a “flowerland hotel” are opportunities Leatham has no intention of relinquishing.
“I basically have a couture show every three weeks,” explains Leatham, who says the ever-changing, never-the-same-twice installations at the Paris landmark keep him on his toes. His Four Seasons partnership is "the best marriage I’ve had in my life,” he says.
“We’re always honest with each other. We’re always communicating about what I’m doing outside the hotel. I have my line of products, my books, my event company in Los Angeles now: They realize I need that, as an artist, to keep me inspired.”
With a collection of stunning Fleurology crystal vases and handblown glass flowers from Waterford, a home fragrance line debuting in spring 2015 and his third book, “Visionary Floral Art and Design,” Leatham is conquering every designer’s biggest challenge: staying “relevant.”
The new book dispels a myth: “People think all my flowers are tilting out of the side of the vase,” says the artist of his signature rebellious slant. This “greatest hits” compilation showcases his versatility and provides a look at Leatham’s work through his own lens: He shot more than half of the book’s photographs.
The “king of clean, simple and chic design” says the days of “wowing people” by “filling the room with flowers, flowers, flowers” are yielding to a more thoughtful touch. “When I approach a wedding, it doesn’t matter if it’s for a Saudi princess or a New York socialite or a cool artist in Los Angeles. It’s always about bringing her personality to life,” he says. When Tina Turner wed longtime love Erwin Bach, she immediately recognized Leatham’s enormous wall of 140,000 roses was a nod to her trademark red lips. “She was like: ‘That’s me!’” Leatham remembers. It was the ultimate compliment.
Relocating his event company from New York to Los Angeles feels “like I’m coming home,” Leatham says. While he’s excited to return to the city where his career blossomed, he admits: “I’m traveling pretty constantly.” Being recognized internationally for his innovations brings him ever closer to his dream of being “an iconic lifestyle guru” whose inspiration reaches into homes everywhere.
His lectures keep him rooted in the transformative essence of flowers. “I call them my little Leatham rock concerts. I love to get on stage in front of 1,000 people and play with flowers and show beautiful images,” he says. “If flowers have changed my life this much, I have a responsibility to share my gifts with others and show them they can do it, too.”