It’s peak wedding season and Denise Porcaro has limited time. She arrives at her Lower East Side shop, Flower Girl, explaining that she’s just come from an overdue lunch meeting. She asks one of her employees to set an alarm for exactly 1:50 p.m., 10 minutes before her next appointment, and starts tending to the flowers.
A native New Yorker, Porcaro studied communications, film and broadcasting at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. Post-graduation, she held jobs at a few restaurants in the city and inexplicably found herself doubling as the unofficial florist. Though her passion was originally film, she decided to pursue her newfound creative outlet, and opened her business in 2004. Flower Girl has since worked with Chanel, Proenza Schouler and Marc Jacobs.
On the day of our interview, Porcaro wears a hand-dyed slipdress by Cara Marie Piazza. Porcaro glides through the modest space, rearranging its setup as she goes, and clears off a table in the back of the shop. She mentions something about her mother’s fear of overhydration, lights a candle for good measure and opens up about her personal and professional style.
WWD: How would you describe the dress code at Flower Girl?
Denise Porcaro: At Flower Girl and in the flower industry, there’s really no dress code — definitely not here for our girls. We’ll encourage them to put one of our cool Flower Girl or Flower Guy aprons on — we have two different styles — if they don’t want to dirty their clothes, but for the most part, it’s comfortable, functional, as stylish as they want to be. I always like to look good and I think we attract a group of girls that are stylish and cool.
WWD: What’s your go-to outfit?
D.P.: I think a lot of it has to do with the season. I tend to always try to wear something that’s functional throughout the day. I’m not a big stop, change, unless I’m going to a fancy function at night and obviously can’t wear what I was wearing all day. I really like my clothes and need to get dressed in the morning and have it work for my entire day. In the summer months for instance, a slipdress totally works well because I can wear flats with it. It can totally be cool and functional throughout the day and then it can go quite easily into an evening dinner or something like that.
WWD: Who or what is the biggest influence on what you put on for work?
D.P.: What my day holds. That morning or the night before, I’m thinking about what the next day entails. Am I meeting with clients? Am I at the shop all day? I can be more chill and dressed down and have sneakers on if I’m gonna be here all day. I wear so many hats owning this business that that dictates what is going on. I like to have dresses on more in the summer. In the winter, I’m a jeans and T-shirt and sweater kinda girl.
WWD: Is there a big difference between what you wear at work and what you wear at home?
D.P.: Not really. What you see is what you get. If there’s a time and place to dress up, I absolutely have the girly, feminine side that loves to be able to dress up, but ultimately, I go shopping for clothing that are both life clothing and work clothing. [Flower Girl] is my baby and this is what I’ve been doing for 13 years. I’m that same person throughout my personal life and my work life.
WWD: Where do you draw inspiration from in terms of personal style?
D.P.: New York. We live in such a cool, effervescent city and because I grew up here, I always pulled from the city and my friends and people-watching and magazines. My mom is a big [inspiration]. She has always been so stylish over the years and her style has obviously changed, but because that’s who I grew up around, I tap into that.
WWD: Do you like to pursue trends?
D.P.: My style is consistent. I like to tap into some interesting things, but as far as purchasing or percentage of how much, I would probably say I tap into 20 percent of what’s on trend at any given time. For the most part, it’s pretty classic and tried and true to who I am, and then I’ll pepper in whatever the cool thing that’s happening is.
WWD: Where do you shop?
D.P.: I’m a big high-low person. I used to shop at Urban Outfitters when I was younger, and there are still pieces I’ll go in and grab. I absolutely love Reformation. I love their pieces and how they come in with interesting stuff. And then there’s my high-end, which I don’t get to shop as much, but I love Ulla Johnson, I go on Shopbop. I’m not a huge shopper. I buy what I need and I do a couple of pushes throughout a year, maybe two to three at most.
WWD: Do you typically shop online?
D.P.: I’m more online now. They’ve made it so easy for us to shop online, and I’m busy and don’t love the crowds in the stores and the whole thing. When I was a kid, [my mom] used to drag me to all the department stores and I used to dread it. I think there’s a time and a place to go to a store. If you’re planning ahead, you can easily try things on and a lot of companies are willing to pay for shipping back and forth.
WWD: Do you lay your clothes out the night before?
D.P.: I love the idea of laying out the night before. Lately, I’ve been so busy with work, I’m waking up before my alarm and before my husband and working on e-mails before people are at their desks to get a head start. But then I also am working late nights sometimes. I’m a planner through and through, so ideally, yes, [but] it doesn’t always happen.
WWD: What’s your favorite purchase of the last few months?
D.P.: Fleur du Mal. There’s something really nice and feminine about having beautiful undergarments. There are pieces from Fleur du Mal that go from, obviously, not wearing lingerie out but slipdresses. You can wear them with sneakers if you really want to have that funky look or you can wear them with flats or dress them up. It’s a versatile purchase and it’s versatile throughout my day.
More from WWD.com: