Claire Boreau loves being a florist. Early in the morning she haggles in Les Halles de Rungis for the finest flowers which she then combines in her studio into bouquets for herself and for leading fashion brands such as Kenzo, Vogue and Chanel. Many people consider Claire to be an artist, but she’s modest and understated. “My work is important, but not as important as that of an artist. I am merely a craftsman, and I like making attractive floral arrangements.”
LOVE OF THE CRAFT
Claire’s work is innovative and impressive with a distinctive and appealing character. Many people therefore consider her not just a florist, but also a floral artist. Claire is not particularly comfortable with that description. She considers musicians, poets and painters to be artists, not a hard-working florist who tries to do her work well. She got this sober and enterprising attitude from her family, who have been butchers for generations: “I spent my entire youth working in my parents’ butcher shop. There I learnt what hard work is, what persistence is and what fun it is to interact with customers. At the same time I also acquired a passion for literature and poetry, because my family loves it. They even called my granddad the ‘butcher poet’. These two influences taught me to respect both the hard-grafting working class and the artists and collectors from the banlieue.”
“But I do understand why people are increasingly viewing florists as artists,” says Claire. “Since the arrival of social media florists have many more opportunities to express themselves and show what they are making. The world of floristry has become far more visible, and florists therefore seem to be increasingly concerned about what their artworks look like the photo. I do the same myself. I don’t think that there are more florists than before. I simply think that other people have started to realise that flowers with all their colours, shapes and textures don’t just look beautiful in a vase, but can also serve as material for creating artwork. From that perspective florists do indeed increasingly resemble artists.”
Every bouquet is unique. In its creation Claire allows herself to be led by emotions, poems and music. If she’s angry and unsettled, you will hear complex texts and she produces rough bouquets with strong colours. If she’s cheerful and relaxed, you will see romantic bouquets that have been produced to a jazzy soundtrack or passionate poetry. “When I’m making my bouquets I listen to music or poetry that fits with how I feel at that moment. This revives my emotions and I enter a state of mind from which I can create new work. I usually don’t know in advance what I’m going to make, but allow myself to be entirely guided by my feelings; the bouquets then create themselves.”
I really work from my heart, and believe that my bouquets then create themselves.
FASCINATED BY FLOWERS
Flowers only entered Claire’s heart later in life. It was thanks to a neighbour that Claire developed a love for flowers and plants: “I was living and working in Rome for two years, where my hippie neighbour asked whether I could look after her garden. Because I knew virtually nothing about plants and flowers she taught me all the basic techniques. I fell in love with everything to do with flowers, and became fascinated by the way in which flowers grow and can relate to one another. I suddenly realised the there was nothing I enjoyed more than working with flowers. I never wanted to sit behind a desk or screen again; I had to do work where I could use my hands and express my love of flowers. Being a florist turned out to be the perfect combination for me between craftsmanship, aesthetics and poetry.”
I had to do work where I could use my hands and express my love of flowers.
Clare obtained her diploma and found a job as a florist in Paris straightaway. Just before she was due to start her brother died unexpectedly. That greatly affected her and her family. Claire decided not to start her new job, but to set up her own flower shop Nue Paris in her grandfather’s old artist’s studio: “That was simultaneously a difficult and magical time. My brother’s death made me realise that life can be very short. I therefore felt very strongly that I should get the maximum out of my own life. I couldn’t fulfil that urge to express myself if I had to work for someone else. I had to be free. With Nue Paris that's possible. Nue, which means ‘naked’, is a way of saying: I am who I am. I am myself.”
Nue is a way of saying: I am who I am. I am myself.
Want to read other stories about the new generation of Parisian florists? Then take a look at the interview with Jefferson Fouquet.