Every fortnight we invite you to take a peek behind the scenes at McQueens Flowers and meet the people who form the fabric of who we are, and what we create. Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to our London-based Senior School Tutor, Christophe Berreterot.
Tell us about your floral journey Christophe, how did you get into the world of floristry and how long have you been doing it for?
I have been a florist for over 20 years, and it happened by accident to be honest, I never planned to become a florist. At the time, I was studying architecture in Bordeaux and was on my 3rd year, then I decided this wasn’t for me – I was 23 at the time. One day, I randomly stumbled across an ad for a trainee florist at a flower shop, decided to apply, and got the job! After a few years there, I outgrew the position and decided to move to London.
I started by working on a flower stall in South Kensington, then worked my way up the ladder. I worked in retail, weekly flowers, events, and weddings, and eventually joined the McQueens Flowers Events team. After 4 eventful years, I decided to leave and set up my own business, while working as a freelance florist at the same time.
I did that for a few years, working in amazing locations, and sometimes unique events like Harry and Megan's wedding. In late 2018, while I was planning to leave the industry, my current job working as a teacher came my way. I decided to give it a go and never looked back.
What does your current role involve?
I am a Senior Tutor at the McQueens Flower School in Mayfair. I create interesting lessons to captivate students’ imagination and help them on their learning journey to become florists, or even enjoy it as a hobby. When I am teaching or creating lessons, I am conscious about colour schemes, textures, composition, and other design elements.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I really enjoy interacting with students, getting to know each student, and giving them the knowledge that they’ve come for, and maybe learn a lot of new things they didn’t anticipate about being a florist. I am always happy to answer questions. I also enjoy the creative freedom, the fact that there is no job brief, we create our own brief and lessons for the students. As long as the learning outcome is achieved. We all teach differently, and I think this is our school's strength.
What is your most memorable project?
When we went to Italy in 2019, the school created a floral installation in Venice in celebration of the opening of the Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House. Our School Principal (Sophie) was leading, and as a team we created a stunning focal display, a statement contemporary floral piece made from metal cubes, with floral garland weaved in and out of them.
What do you think makes the McQueens Flower School Special?
I think McQueens Flower School has such a variety of knowledge to offer, we have several teachers with different creative approaches. We all have our own style of teaching, but our goal at the end is the same. My approach is very naturalistic, I try to work as much as possible with natural elements – for example, I prefer not to use painted flowers.
What do you think is the next trend in floristry?
I think responsible creativity is the way forward. This must be the next trend. Avoiding painted flowers that can’t be composted and end up in land fill is a must, reducing the use of single-use plastic, thinking local and buying locally grown flowers... These are all subjects that must be talked about more and more. There is a movement of home-grown flowers, Flowers from The Farm, that is gaining strength every year. Winters are particularly challenging as it is more difficult to grown flowers outdoors here in the UK.
Secondly, I am interested in ikebana, a Japanese style of floristry. To create something beautiful with only a few elements is very powerful. The less is more approach to floristry is close to my heart and the way forward, in a world where we must be thoughtful with our resources… Maybe a new trend I hope. To make an analogy with being a painter, it is not the amount of paint one puts on a canvas that determines how good an artist one is.
There is an art to simplicity.
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. It all depends on how one looks at their surroundings – whether it is nature, architecture, shapes, or colours. I often say: "always walk around with your eyes wide open!"
Another source of inspiration is fashion. One designer I particularly admire is Dries Van Notes. He has a very subtle sense of style mixed with a quiet madness, nothing too overpowering and I admire that.
I also like to attend art exhibitions. I really believe inspiration is all around us.
What qualities or abilities do you think are important to succeed as a florist?
To be a florist, and be successful, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience. It’s important to learn and practice your skill over time. It’s not an easy industry to be in, even though we create beautiful pieces, but behind the scenes there is physical labour and a lot of things people do not see. It’s a demanding job, there are early mornings going to the flower market, preparing, and setting up for events on weekends, and then dismantling what you spent hours making. On the other hand, there are big rewards to being a florist. We create beautiful and memorable displays and contribute to creating timeless memories for clients. Discover more about the McQueens Flower School and our floristry courses online here, or over on Instagram @mcqueensflowerschool