3 secrets to a foolproof flower arrangement, from the Ritz hotel residence
In the history of Paris Ritz Hotel, it is easy to be impressed by the sumptuous building and the rooms recently restored and refreshed by Thierry despont, by the bubbling courtyard gardens cultivated by Jean Mus, by luxury cars disgorging chic 1% at the golden entrance of Place Vendôme. But don’t be so dazzled that you miss the actionable details inside, one of which is the flower queen Anne Vitchenthe inspiring generosity of flowers, cute bouquets to Magnificent plume.
The secret to his success at the Ritz?
Constraint: do not use more than two species by arrangement
Uniformity: combine several shades of the same color
Clarity: greenery as filler is prohibited– no asparagus fern, no butcher’s broom, just pure, pure flowers
The objective is to “make an explosion of a single color”, explains Vitchen, who founded the Parisian workshop. In Matisse’s Garden in 1998 and counted among its clients Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and the Parisian hotel Le Royal Monceau Raffles. “Less is more, you know.”
Two of Vitchen and her staff’s creations – the flowers at the Ritz are changed twice a week – caught my eye as I walked into the hotel one recent afternoon, chasing Hemingway Bar and one head bartenders. Colin Peter FieldThe innovative and incredibly smooth Dirty Clean Martinis, which, at around $ 27 a sip, are dangerously delicious.
The grand arrangement towered over a chest of drawers mounted in gilded bronze just beyond the revolving door: dozens of vibrant pink gladioli bursting like flashes of a stratus cloud of blue eucalyptus foliage. (Flower arrangements to match the famille rouge could be found in all common rooms of the hotel.) The effect was bold but sumptuous, especially as the gladiolus buds opened over the next few days. And the juxtaposition between the cheerful pink petals and the melancholy leaves has established a memorable polarity, one that Agathe Chauvelier, Vitchen’s assistant, describes as “elegant but poetic”. Ditto for the contrast in texture between the gladiolus tips and the eucalyptus moss.
In the Ritz’s welcoming entrance gallery when I visited, Louis XV-style cocktail tables held low spherical Vitchen bouquets of ‘Ruby Red’ hydrangeas that Vitchen sprinkled with purple-black scabiosas. Like the gladiolus-eucalyptus combination, it was another contrast between candy and charcoal, the sweetness cut with a subtle edginess.
“I want to bring a bit of modernity to the Ritz while retaining the romanticism,” says Vitchen, whose favorite flower is yellow peony, especially the shaggy flowers with petals like slightly crumpled silk taffeta. “My work is always romantic because I am a romantic person. I make my arrangements with a lot of passion, and I hope people feel it.