Recently, I picked up my Winter edition of Flower Magazine, and found this stunningly romantic photo in it….
“This is just gorgeous,” I thought. “This reminds me of something Robert would do…..”
Then I turned the page, and saw – Robert!
“Oh my gosh - it IS Robert!” Robert E. Smith is a family friend down in Southwest Louisiana. He is a French antique dealer by trade, an architect by training, and a flower stylist by passion. He regularly emails us notecards from France (where he lives part time) with gorgeous photos of floral arrangements, in sumptuous interior settings. I’m always moved and inspired by his little “floral notes,” and often wonder, “Where does this beauty and creativity come from?”
Reading the article, I discovered “how he does it.” And now I must now share with you! Below are some article excerpts, which Robert has allowed me to illustrate with a few additional photos from or family files.
Robert’s earliest floral arranging impulses came from exploring the woods and shores of South Louisiana, where he first discovered his passion for collecting. ”At age 6, I was making Lilliputian-sized flower arrangements with wildflowers in seashells…I would comb the shoreline for new treasures from the sea and little jewels from the land in the form of wildflowers…”
“…it has come to my attention that history does repeat itself. In my dining room in Louisiana, I have a 34-inch-wide clamshell, in which I have a constantly changing array of seasonal flowers.”
“As my love for flowers has continued life-long, my approach in creating floral arrangements for my own enjoyment is still naturally that of a collector. I find the correct choice of the container, sized for both the eventual location of the arrangement and also for the floral material it will contain, is almost half the artistic challenge in making a successful arrangement.”
“I prefer antique containers of glass, faience, porcelain, or silver.”
“The contents are also a collection of sorts. I might use material from my shop gardens and my home gardens, as well as roadside finds and flowers from the store. This approach ensures that my arrangements have personal, seasonal, and regional flavors. Fruit, berries, seed pods, vines, and tree branches are all likely possibilities.”
“As time went on, my fledgling French antiques business exploded and gobbled up the space of this house, so I had an inspired and audacious plan for the construction of a second residence, made out of antique materials: an early 18th century-styled French pavilion of five stories on a beautiful and wildly primordial lake.”
“There, my man-made gardens are reduced to six fairly small, raised masonry flower beds…”
“(prominent ones at the four corners of the masonry moat)”
“each one containing at the center a pedestal supporting a topiary citrus tree in a large, antique French vase d’Anduze.”
“(Collecting antique flower containers has been a major theme of mine with vases d’Anduze being the high point.)”
Below is Robert at one of his fabulous parties in his “18th century-styled French Pavilion”! He’s the one with the spectacles over on the right.
If you haven’t discovered Flower Magazine yet, pick up this Winter Edition, and you will see the rest of the article on Robert. And if you are ever in the market for a French antique, you MUST look up Robert. He is the real deal, and his French antique finds are the real deal. My dream would be to hook up with him in his second home of Uzes, Provence, and go on my own personal antique shopping spree! But even if you just want a bit of France in your home, you can look him up at Au Vieux Paris Antiques, www.auvieuxparisantiques.com.