Robbie Honey: A Man of Many Petals

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We meet Robbie Honey, a man whose name and job – "floral creative" for Dior, Valentino and more – we wish were our own

Robbie Honey has one of the greatest names and accompanying job titles around; as a "floral creative", he is responsible for some of the most lavish examples of floristry in fashion (for brands including Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood and Valentino) alongside the creation of a new, eponymous candle range. Born in Zimbabwe, he took up a plentiful array of careers before settling into a vocation – trying everything from farming sunflowers and lilies and domesting landscaping to studying interior design and later, photography. In fact, it wasn't until moving to London and flicking through a glossy magazine that he heard that floristry could actually be a profession (and subsequently, swiftly took it up as his own). Here, we speak to Robbie about how to make your flowers last and being the youngest ever member of the orchid society...

On getting started
“When a florist took me on board, it was heaven; I couldn’t believe I could do this as a job! She threw me right into the deep end, which is the exact opposite of what she was allowed to do… she wasn’t even allowed to touch a flower for the first year and just had to sweep the floor. So, I worked with her for a year and then went freelance. I started to get my own clients and then, aged 25, set up my own company.”

On keeping your bouquet beautiful...
"In London, New Covent Garden Market is the big daddy and you need to get there for around 7am. You want to buy flowers that are as young as possible, idealy that haven’t budded yet, and then make sure that you re-cut the stems as soon as you get home and put them directly into water. Changing flower water is a strong thing; it’s the flower water left in the vase that often causes them to decay because the bacteria forms there. You need to change it as soon as it starts to get murky – or use the sterilising tablets that are used for baby bottles. If you chuck half of one of those into a vase, it really helps with longevity.”

On ending up at Hermes and Dior
“Hermes’ PR at the time could see that I was young and interested and one day I just got a message asking if I wanted to do something small with them. And then that led to another small thing, and eventually they asked me to take on their weekly flowers. Pretty soon afterwards, we did a garden for one of their Salons and then Dior spotted it and wanted a garden terrace. I started doing their weekly flowers, and then someone from there moved to Armani so I started working with them, too – and Armani is part of the same group as Mulberry and so on and so forth.”

On uniting flowers and fashion
“I love working with Dior because of their heritage with flowers and all of the inspiration that comes from their gardens. I love the beauty of it all, and how its history that has continued on into the brand today. And working with a brand like Hermes is amazing too because it has such a heritage that is still being exquisitely done. That level of style paired with the quality of work and attention to detail…”

On his first floral love
“I think the first flower I loved was a daffodil but, when I moved to England at 17 and saw them all over the place I said that I never wanted to see one again. I saw my first orchid at 11, and became obsessed with them. I was the youngest member of the orchid society. But Wisteria is my big love; they were a rarity in Zimbabwe and they have such a brief flowering head. It’s a joy because in winter you see all of these bare branches in winter and then in the spring it is so short and affluent and by summer there is a sea of purple flowers. So, between wisteria and red corn poppies.”