Christelle Scifo spent her former years studying ballet in Paris, so it comes as no surprise that she knows how to make flowers dance. This season, our lookbook features one of her sculptural carnation arrangements, and for our sustainable swimwear presentation in Sydney, we collaborated on still life arrangements that used flowers and litter as a conversation starter for circularity and design. We spoke with Christelle about her practice and relationship with creative floristry.
Story photographed by Hannah Roche.
What prompted your interest in floristry and how did you get started?
Spending time living and working in Paris, I was surrounded by all the beauty and culture the city offered. On return to Sydney I was looking for a new direction in styling and creative arts. I was encouraged by an old friend at the time to pick something unique to me and pursue it. I had the pleasure of being introduced to Grandiflora and put myself out there, creating a small ceramic floral gesture to accompany my CV. I was lucky enough to learn under my now mentor and friend Saskia Havekes, refining my knowledge and skill along with finding my own eye and unique aesthetic.
Fleurette and my work now is the culmination of my multi-disciplined self, that enables me to work and create, showcasing all of my skills and all that I care about. It covers, but not limited to; creative direction, set design, floral styling, still life, brand consulting, writing and photography.
Who or what keeps you inspired?
Having spent much of my early twenties abroad, travel and culture is now a big part of my life and work process. It instills in you a craving of culture, change of scenery, of adapting tastes, of diversity, and all the many forms of beauty. It’s now even necessary as a part of my work and creative process.
I feel all I’ve learnt and certainly the most memorable of lessons and advice has been through experience; observing and absorbing my surroundings and learning from my mistakes, continually wanting to better myself. My mother has been the biggest influence and example of diligence, independence, determination, hard work, and always with a kind and humble spirit.
What is your first memory with plants or flowers?
My aunts are all painters, teachers and avid gardeners, my French/Italian father a chef; so growing up I was surrounded with culture, nature, gardens of flowers and fresh produce - always drawing, pressing and painting flowers from a very young age. It all came together for me on my return to Sydney from Paris. It was then I realised what I loved and missed most along with the fashion, arts and architecture of Paris, were the gardens and florists spilling into the streets, the food, lifestyle and culture. That’s when I decided I needed to work all these great loves in together. It was the driving force to be surrounded by all I loved and to find my niche and work with it. Inspired by nature’s raw and fleeting beauty I endeavour to interrupt it, juxtaposing it with art, fashion, design objects and interiors.
How would you describe your creative aesthetic?
Elegant yet eclectic, natural, free if a little wild perhaps you could even say French and with a feminine touch. My ties to Paris and my French heritage certainly shape a big part of not just my personal style but my creative aesthetic too.
What is your favourite famous garden?
Jardin de Plantes, Tuileries and Dries van Noten’s private gardens along with Wendy Whitely gardens on Sydney harbour.
How do you see the future of flowers and how we live with them?
To quote one of my favourites, a fellow Niçois; Flowers will always be there for those that wish to see them - Henri Matisse.
Do you think surrounding ourselves with flowers is important?
To me it definitely is, in whatever form that means to the individual. I believe nature inspires, it keeps one grounded and reminds you to stop and centre yourself. It allows you to find and see beauty in the simplest of things and of forms and often leave you in awe, helping to put things back into perspective.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Longevity, life and a future.
How do you practice sustainability in floristry?
I try more and more to steer away from plastic in my everyday life and bring that into my work life, in the studio and on set. Working with growers sourcing locally grown flowers at markets and foraging when I can too. I grow many of the flowers I use in my family garden. I try now to also steer away from the use of floral foam, preferring to work with my beautiful vessels, Japanese ikebana stands and custom ceramic structures.