Virtuoso Life November 2017 Floral Feast: Jeff Leatham Has the Coolest Job in the World

Floral Feast: Jeff Leatham Has the Coolest Job in the World

Jeff Leatham
Jeff Leatham
PHOTOS BY JOE SCHMELZER

Seeing Jeff Leatham’s spectacular flower arrangements at the Four Seasons hotels in Paris or Los Angeles is as essential as seeing the Louvre or the Getty Center. It’s a bold statement, but Leatham’s creations often incorporate tens of thousands of blooms in showstopping curtains of orchids or walls of roses. Leatham is a florist (and artist) extraordinaire, plus a celebrity favorite – his flowers have adorned events for Chelsea Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and the Kardashians.
Leatham’s creations for his studio at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles.
Leatham’s creations for his studio at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles.

After 17 years as the artistic director at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, he moved to California last year to also take on that role at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, where his career began, and to open a working studio. For Leatham, who acts as consulting artistic director for the entire Four Seasons brand, the move was in part personal, to be closer to his family – he married actor Colton Haynes in October. Here, he talks about finding inspiration around the world and his incredible engagement, assisted by Cher.

How does travel influence your design?

I went to Thailand years ago, visited the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, and was so inspired by the orchids growing there that I even visited a couple of orchid farms. Later, it was reflected in how I hung the summer orchid installations at George V. I learn so much whenever I go to Asia.

What are the differences between working in Paris and in Los Angeles? 

In Paris, we go through 12,000 blooms a week, with a $1.2 million budget and a staff of 12 people. In L.A. we have the same vibe, but with a staff of seven. It’s more about deliveries in L.A., and a version of the Leatham experience delivered to people’s homes. It’s also about the studio experience; guests can come watch us work at the Four Seasons Los Angeles.

What are a few of your career highlights?

Opening the Four Seasons George V made my career, hands down. Another highlight was designing Tina Turner’s wedding. I’ve been so lucky to work with iconic artists whom I respect, like Adele.

Tell us about your engagement, which could be called The Greatest Engagement of All Time.

Cher is a great friend of mine, and “I Got You Babe” is one of [my husband’s and my] songs. I asked her if she’d do a mini singalong, projected on an enormous screen, and then introduce me before I got on my knees.
 
We were watching Steel Magnolias outside at Las Ventanas al ParaĆ­so in Cabo. All of a sudden, the movie stopped and Cher came on the screen. After we got engaged, there were fireworks set to Bruno Mars’ song “Marry You.” When we got back to our room, the hotel had spelled out HE SAID “YES” in rose petals on the bed.

What is something that people don’t know about you?

I’m inspired by cinema and design from the 1950s and ’60s – midcentury modern furniture and artwork. I’m a huge Marilyn Monroe fan and collect memorabilia of hers. I recently watched A Star Is Born with Judy Garland. There’s a scene with a giant, gorgeous f lower wall, which is now the most popular thing for weddings and parties. That movie was released in 1954! Everything has been done before.
 
I lead a big life now, but I grew up on a ranch in Utah. My grandfather was a rancher, and it’s a piece of me that I hold close to my heart. I go back a couple of times a year.

The lobby, with Leatham’s flowers, at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles.
The lobby, with Leatham’s flowers, at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles.

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