December 8, 2011

Interview with Vic Brotherson of Scarlet & Violet

You may remember that back in October, I wrote a review of Vic Brotherson of Scarlet & Violet‘s new book, ‘Vintage Flowers’?

Well, I’m thrilled to showcase a Q&A with the lady herself, together with a selection of some of her stunning flower arrangements.

When did you start Scarlet & Violet and where are you based?

Well I opened in March 2006.  Valentine’s Day was my last day at work in my previous job. A quiet gentle opening, just me and the van when I first started, so the shop was closed a lot of the time if I was out and about delivering and doing house flowers etc.

I got some help pretty quickly once I realised that the shop wasn’t going to be the workshop base I intended but a proper, open all day 6 days a week flower shop.

We are now 7 full-time girls and a lovely driver with my big sister in the office next door (thank goodness).

The shop is a minute’s walk from my home on Chamberlayne Road, London, NW10.  Not the prettiest part of London but it’s laid back, community-spirited and brilliantly perfect for us…rents aren’t crazy so we can keep the flowers at decent prices.

Where do you get inspiration for your floral designs?

Always comes from the client really, from their words on how they want something to look or feel or from their home, a venue or a picture of anything at all that sums up the mood… just something to give me a feel.

With day-to-day things, we’re completely led by the flowers that come in from the market.  Be it the English dahlia, lily of the valley, gorgeous foliage or blossom.

We don’t really do designs.  We tend to just go for it and keep at it until it looks right.  Not a great way to make money as inevitably you always need just a couple more delphiniums.

How would you describe your style?

Loose, textural, unstructured, gardeny, painterly, satisfying and homey.

I understand that you created Kate Moss’s wedding flowers…can you tell us anything about the designs/day?

Two days of hilarity, fear and loads of really beautiful flowers for an incredibly beautiful bride.

What is your favourite flower?

Sweet peas, ranunculus, blush anemones, secret garden and combo roses, camellia, magnolia and cherry.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Our Christmas party last year with all the girls.  For once I actually realised that the shop was doing ok.  Everyone was happy.  

I think it’s very hard to be proud of yourself.  Large risk of sitting back and being smug (my most hated trait in anyone) but I was definitely proud of the girls and Scarlet & Violet (whoever they are).

What are your plans and hopes for the future?

That we can continue as we are for however long it takes and then all retire and move to the country and have an amazing cutting garden and do it for real!

What advice would you give to anyone looking to improve their flower arranging skills?

Anyone who has flowers at home or who works with flowers is lucky already.  The only way to get better is to experiment, make mistakes and then make it way better than you first intended.

Don’t be afraid of doing something just because you like it rather than to impress.

Many thanks to Vic for helping me put together today’s post and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it.

P.S.  I highly recommend her book, ‘Vintage Flowers’ as a Christmas present idea!  It’s absolutely gorgeous…

(Images : Scarlet & Violet)

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