Whitney Bromberg Hawkings began her career as an assistant to Tom Ford during his time at Gucci and later became the senior vice president of communications at his eponymous brand. But in 2015, her passion for flowers – and what she describes as “a terrifying now or never moment” – inspired the Texas native to embark on a new venture: the founding of her floral-delivery service Flowerbx.
The now-international brand has since gone from strength to strength, supplying haute blossoms to Whitney’s formidable Black Book of fashionable contacts. Vuitton is a regular (the Palace of Versailles draped in petals in the Orangerie was Flowerbx work), as is Dior, Jimmy Choo and Tory Burch; as well as the Birley Group’s private-members’ clubs Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar, the River Café and the Cheval Blanc hotel in Courchevel, to name just a few.
During her time in high fashion, Whitney became familiar with the industry’s flower culture: the never-ending thank-you bouquets that pass between designers, editors, and public relations executives. “I found that all of the fashionable people in the world were sending single-stem bunches,” she says. “Karl favoured white orchids; Miuccia Prada pale-pink roses; Calvin Klein white callalilies; and Anna Wintour, white roses… Every designer and every brand had a signature, yet it was so hard to get florists to keep it simple.” It is this chic simplicity that has set her elegant bunches apart from the others.
With events halted for the best part of the past year because of the pandemic, Whitney relied on her instincts to keep going. “Fashion prepares you for anything. Many underestimate just how hard people in the industry work, and how much grit it takes to become successful. Tom [Ford] was the best teacher. He knew how to build a successful, powerful brand, and recognised the importance of hard work and the art of creating desire – things I have applied to my own brand.”
With a year that’s presented many testing moments, the businesswoman invites us a glimpse inside her home, sharing her corners of inspiration and of course, offering her ultimate style tips.
She loves Parisian interiors
“Both my husband and I love classic French furniture. The result is a home filled with pieces we have bought in markets throughout France. Our Coromandel screen we found at the Puces de Clignancourt has become the anchor around which our entire living-room was styled.”
On her home workspace
“Now that the kids are back at school, I have reclaimed my oversized Rose Uniacke kitchen table. There’s plenty of room to spread out and test flowers. Our kitchen is in a conservatory, which is a major bonus because it’s warmed by the sun and looks onto our garden. Throughout lockdown, it’s brought hope and much-needed optimism.”
Her favourite space is the living-room
“It is one of the few quiet places in my house upholstered in the most sumptuous materials. My husband is the SVP of Menswear for Tom Ford, so most of the fabrics he has sourced in our house are all lovingly handmade in beautiful factories in Biella. Everything you see, from the furniture, to the art and objets are a culmination of things we have collected together over the past 15 years in antique markets all over the world, many of which are incredibly sentimental.”
The bathroom presents moments of calm
“It’s my sanctuary and one of the few places in the house I get a moment of peace. I unwind in a hot bath at the end of the day with Francisco Costa’s amazing Costa Brazil bath salts and a candle. All the troubles of the day melt away.”
Rose Uniacke is her go-to interior designer
“We are endlessly inspired by Rose Uniacke and her exercise in simplicity. She makes less feel like so much more with her pared-back interiors. I also love Peter Mikic, who celebrates colour and texture with such audacity, while keeping it chic.”
On her most prized possession
“It’s an auspicious hollowed-out ostrich egg that my husband bought me at a market in Paris. An ostrich egg symbolises luck and prosperity, and he gave this to me when I started Flowerbx.”
The designers you’ll stumble across most in Whitney’s home are…
“Rose Uniacke, Jansen, Peter Mikic and Maison Bagues. There’s an element of classicism and obsession with quality in all of them, which makes them timeless and elegant. I believe that each of my pieces from these designers will be more beautiful in 500 years than they are today because they will continue to stand the test of time.”
Simplicity informs her tablescapes
“I love choosing one colour and then staying tonal, going to town with the flowers, the crockery, candles and glassware. It’s always best to go seasonal and I like to create depth with different textures and blooms, always arranged in single-stem bunches. The more I see OTT tables, the more I crave simplicity and elegance in floral arrangements.”
Her dream dinner-party guests are…
“Emilia Wickstead, because she is the life and the glamour of any party and I cannot wait to throw on one of her party dresses again; Amanda Gorman, so we could gaze at her beauty whilst listening to her speak poetry; and my mom (as she would do the cooking).”
She has been living in menswear during lockdown
“I have stolen all of my husband’s Tom Ford jumpers and shirts as they are just so luxurious. They also kept me feeling chic and protected during lockdown. Jewellery and perfume also really helped elevate my mood over the past year.”
The who’s-who in Whitney’s wardrobe
“I am pretty much a broken record with how I dress, as flowers require a versatile uniform. I am always in a pair of cropped Re-Done jeans, a white ATM T-shirt, and a tailored jacket by Saint Laurent. I have classic Gucci loafers in almost every colour and texture, and the same goes for Gianvito Rossi heels, which I (used to) switch out in the car before a meeting.”