Elite Escapes

Florist to the stars: Bringing beauty to the Kardashians

Brekke Fletcher, CNNUpdated 18th September 2017
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Los Angeles (CNN) — The first thing you see when you step into the lobby of the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is what can only be described as floral shock and awe.
The entryway is not grand or very large, though its marble floors and dramatic chandelier are lovely. But there is drama upon entry: Flowers, flowers, flowers -- they are everywhere, artfully arranged, fragrant and splendid. You are immediately and quite happily assaulted by skillful arrangements that are structurally stunning and despite efforts to the contrary, pretty much indescribable.
Writing about flowers is kind of pointless in this instance, so the focus is on Jeff Leatham, the man whose singular talent, creativity and passion makes this star-studded Los Angeles hotel (along with the Four Seasons George V in Paris) Insta-bait on a global scale.
Like most success stories, no one could have predicted Leatham's journey. He is a self-described "flower man extraordinaire" whose story begins like those of fabled young starlets in the early days of Hollywood.
Leatham moved to Los Angeles from Utah at 19 to pursue acting and modeling. But his path took a different, unexpected turn, and he's since become one of the most beloved and in-demand floral designers in the world.
"I never really wanted to work with flowers," Leatham says, "but I realized the impact that flowers had on people and the joy that it brought."

From Utah to knighthood

More than two decades ago, Leatham, looking for steadier work, started a weekend gig at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, the first place he ever touched a flower.
Within four years, he was dispatched to the reopened Four Seasons George V in Paris, where his floral designs brought him worldwide acclaim and new opportunities, including working with celebrity clientele (Oprah Winfrey, the Kardashians, Tina Turner), luxury brands and museums.
He's designed vases for Daum and Waterford, the former included in the permanent collection at the Dallas Museum of Art. In 2014, he was awarded the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres, in recognition of his contribution to French culture as artistic director at the Four Seasons George V.
"We really revolutionized the way people think of flowers at George V. We moved out the furniture and started creating these amazing floral art compositions in the lobby. We've changed the way people look at flowers in hotels, in restaurants, in homes," Leatham said.
These days he's splitting his time between Paris and Los Angeles, running his eponymous studio out of the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, all while planning his own fall wedding. (Yes, his team at Jeff Leatham is doing the flowers.)

Laid back L.A.

On the difference between living in Los Angeles and Paris, Leatham is diplomatic (as all proper knights are).
"The Parisians have been so great for me, but I'm enjoying being back here in Los Angeles, because it's so laid back and the beautiful, sunny weather."
When it comes to food, he likes The Ivy in Beverly Hills, "For me it's great because it's an L.A. standard, and there's beautiful flowers everywhere."
When in Paris, which is now for just a few days each month, he takes most of his meals at the hotel. When he does venture out, it's mostly on foot, "That's one great thing about Paris compared to Los Angeles. In Paris, you walk everywhere. You're inspired every day by walking."
Inspiration is integral to Leatham's process and his continued success. He's a film buff, a lover of fashion and a devotee of mid-century modernism.
"If you look now in fashion, in design, everyone has always been inspired by flowers. I'm definitely working in the right industry because it just keeps growing."
He's also extremely proud of the work he's done and of what he and his team continue to do on a daily basis.
"I'm nothing without my team in Paris and L.A., but I think that's one thing that sometimes we have to slow down and think what we're doing every day really impacts people's lives. We're so blessed to be able to do that."