Iona Mathieson and Romy St Clair’s creative flamboyance sets their style apart from the recent floral vogue for single-shade minimalism. Having dreamt up psychedelic displays for labels from Gucci and Ganni to Prada and Fenty, as well as art institutions including the Whitechapel Gallery, the Peckham-based founders of Sage flowers also provide bunches to local restaurants, such as Levan and Flor. Alongside classic blooms, the duo favours those that are “viney and creepy with nice bends”, and scatter their bouquets with gloriosa, sweet-pea tendrils, glossy anthuriums and passion flowers.
They have established a self-funded training programme for budding florists from ethnic-minority backgrounds in a drive to diversify their profession. “Horticulture in this country has always had issues,” says St Clair, referring to the act of bringing plants back from colonised countries, then naturalising and renaming them. “And if you look at how to get into floristry, you have to do an expensive course or intern, so there aren’t many ways, unless you have financial support.” Throughout the free three-month Future Flowers sessions, trainees have the opportunity to learn both basic skills and how to recreate the confections that Sage has become renowned for.
Before they discovered a mutual love of floristry, the former healthcare analyst St Clair and restaurant worker Mathieson had crossed paths in the capital’s club scene – one of the many unexpected places that has influenced their avant-garde arrangements. “Inspiration comes in all forms, which is maybe why our stuff is a bit different,” says Mathieson. “We love flyers from club nights, as well as fashion, architecture and music.” St Clair adds: “We both grew up around a lot of culture and didn’t know where we fitted into it. Finally, we have our medium to express ourselves.” Thanks to their boundary- breaking initiatives, doors are opening for a new host of talent to do the same.
Sage flowers, available for delivery nationwide. 'The Art of Starting' by Iona Mathieson and Romy St Clair is out now.
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