Founder of the floral design studio Peonies and Beauty Activist, Clémentine Lévy has set herself a new challenge by founding the Peonies Flower School, a green paradise, just an hour from Paris, where she wishes to share her love for flowers. Meeting with a Beauty enthusiast.
What place did flowers occupy in your life before?
I’ve always loved flowers but especially gardens. When I travel, I always take the time to visit one, no matter what city I’m in. I love the color shades, scents, it brings me so much serenity!
What do you think makes a flower beautiful?
In my opinion, flowers are like human beings: each variety has its own personality, flaws and all ; they can be generous, discreet, fussy… They are beautiful because they are inaccessible too; they know how to be desirable!
You present yourself as a floral designer and not as a florist. What is the difference between both?
It’s true that I almost never call myself a florist because in my opinion, it’s sounds too official – it’s related to the craftsmanship in the academic sense, and it’s a straitjacket that I’ve always wanted to break away from by fully assuming the fact that I trained on the job by attending workshops of other floral designers that I love and by having practiced a lot on my own. Floral design is more in line with my activity also because I work mainly in the event business and I build each project with my clients whether it is for brands or private weddings.
Your project is all about sharing your knowledge with others. Where does this desire come from? How do you communicate your passion for flowers?
You can’t transmit without passion. I get it from my family because I have parents, grandparents and a sister who are teachers, and I learned through them that you can’t teach without putting your heart into it. Working with flowers was a real revelation for me, and very quickly I felt the need to share this with others. I have been giving courses and trainings since 2018 and I enjoy it very much. I meet great people and these moments of exchange are really precious to me.
With the Peonies Flower School, you chose to get closer to nature. Why is this important?
I have indeed acquired a hamlet in Mayenne (a French department) where I will now give all my floral art classes: a green setting in the hills where I will grow my flowers as from next season for a 100% immersive experience in the floral world.
It was a necessity to leave Paris, I lived there for 12 years after spending most of my life in Normandy, in the countryside, which I dreamed of leaving at the time. I thought I was a real city dweller but since I started working with flowers I felt the need to return to the calm and greenery! Especially now that I am a mother.
The massive flower cultivation causes environmental issues. How to change mentalities?
Many florists and flower professionals have started to change standards in recent years by communicating the environmental impact of imported flowers and how important it is to consume locally, and not just for food!
There is a great deal of horticultural know-how in France that has long been lost with globalization, but which is coming back in force and I am very happy for the industry and the producers.
Beyond cultivation, we, as floral designers, also have a responsibility as for how we use flowers: not only when buying but also when making our arrangements. By using reusable techniques and creative tools, which do not pollute our oceans (such as artificial foam, which is overused for convenience); but also by measuring our waste once our events are over. We have to think about all the process, from the producer to the consumer and the flower workers. If everyone get involved, then the French horticultural sector has good days ahead!
Cover picture by Pauline Darley.