NEW YORK — Flowers are supposed to be sunny little cheery things. Sweet and feminine. But such saccharine notions make most fashionistas cringe, which is exactly why Lewis Miller is quickly becoming one of the fashion world’s favorite florists. His hallmark is an anti-Hallmark sentiment. And though Miller only opened his small storefront on East 12th Street, LMD, in July, he’s already serving editors at both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
“I hate precious, Prozacy flowers,” says Miller. “I like things to look moody and dark.”
Irving Penn still lives, Peter Greenaway’s ancient/modern mix, Flemish paintings and Mannerist works all provide inspiration for Miller’s lush creations. “I like flowers that look like specimens, Byzantine, medieval, and not at all hot house,” he says.
At the green market each morning, Miller finds the most exaggerated specimens he can, in deep saturated tones, never pastels. Without introducing any “stock or middle-class filler,” he packs them all in black tissue paper for added drama. “Using black paper is just not done, but it’s so spectacular,” he says.
Of course, Miller himself is something of a contradiction — a California farm boy with blond curls, who boasts a wry sense of humor and a dark outlook. But he hasn’t completely eradicated his country boy roots. Miller’s organic, natural approach means white delphinium tangled in budding delphinium vines, and sleek water lilies set against bursts of allium blossoms.
“Flowers had gone so slick. No one needs another round bowl of roses,” says Miller. “But organic and natural doesn’t have to mean country.”
After years planning events in Seattle, Miller did time serving the Upper East Side at Belle Fleur. But he’s determined to do things differently now that he has a place of his own. “I’ve had to do so many girly arrangements in my career,” he sighs. “I want this to be grown-up.” Of course, a storefront in the East Village is not a secluded loft on the West Side, and there are certain requests Miller has had to accommodate. “Brother Gerald came over from the Catholic church across the street and ordered arrangements for a Friday service,” says Miller. “He said it was going to be a ‘really joyous celebration’ and that they wanted something in yellow and white.”
While Brother Gerald may have put in a traditional request, Miller’s moody work has lured in other guy clients as well. “It’s a little embarrassing,” Miller says, “but I just keep thinking about that old line — it’s strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.”