This is your last chance to see renowned floral artist Jeff Leatham’s exquisite Habitat exhibit at the 2021 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. The artistic director at Four Seasons Hotels in Paris and Philadelphia, Leatham is far more than your stereotypical gay florist. He is, in every sense of the word, an artist. His medium is the visual and olfactory delights inherent in the world’s flowering plants (and he has favorite varieties that are sometimes flown in from far flung destinations just for him).
Travelers rarely think of flowers as important in creating the perfect trip, but Leatham would like to change that. He sees floral design as an essential element in pulling people out of their ordinary day-to-day and transporting them into another world. It’s not just the beauty of flowers but their scents.
For a man this intimate with flowers, its not surprising that he would venture into perfumes, and with a new collaboration with KKW Fragrance by Kim Kardashian, he has done exactly that. The new Jeff Leatham collection offers Desert Rose, inspired by Kardashian’s favorite dusty pink Quicksand roses and Night Iris, incorporating scents of wild berries, patchouli, and tobacco leaves. In a nod to Leatham’s original profession, the fragrance bottles are the shape of vases, and can later be repurposed to hold stemmed flowers.
Leatham’s relationship with the family pre-dates this collaboration: Kris Jenner officiated at Leatham and Colton Haynes’s Palm Springs wedding in 2017. (Leatham also recruited friends Cher and Melanie Griffith to participate in his proposal.)
As artisitc director, Four Seasons has given Leatham free rein to create different floral fantasies in their hotel, and he encourages everyone — even those who cannot afford to splurge on a Four Seasons stay themselves — to come and see his designs. He says visitors are welcome to visit Four Seasons’ public areas simply to view the rotating floral displays.
While Four Seasons Hotels might be Leatham’s usual canvas, this year he got to play in an even larger sandbox as he participated in transforming 15 acres into a living artwork, for the country’s biggest floral show. It’s the first time in the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show’s 193-year history that the event has been held outdoors, and the artists involved have taken full advantage of the freedom of incorporating the landscape and living beauty of Franklin D. Roosevelt Park.
After a year inside, Leatham says that Habitat recreates the expansive energy and movement of overgrown vines. It’s reflective of a world in which human tenders are absent – or in which life explodes from previous confines, as we collectively shake off the chains that have constrained us during the pandemic.
“The inspiration for this piece comes from our collective experience of being quarantined this past year,” explains Leatham. “When I close my eyes, I see pent up and overgrown nature wanting to be free. The colors are inspired by the burning desire to bring back the fire of life.”
Creating an otherworldly artistic expression, Leatham’s installation hijacks the architure of the park, wrapping plumosa ferns and baby’s breath around the traditional columns of the Olmsted Pavilion.
“It has long been a dream of ours to be a part of this iconic Philadelphia event,” Ben Shank, general manager, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia said in a statement to the press. “Jeff Leatham’s vision of large scale, organic lines juxtaposed with the existing architectural structures of the Olmsted Pavilion at FDR Park will create a never-before-seen moment for the Flower Show and Philadelphia. We are excited to bring his creative genius to Philadelphia once again.”
As a contributing sponsor to the Flower Show, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia has been offering limited VIP Packages for guests who want a behind-the-scenes experience of the breath-taking displays throughout the Flower Show. The package features an overnight stay in the Hotel’s Corner Suites, and an exclusive early hours tour of the Flower Show curated by one of the show’s designers.
As the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event, the PHS Philadelphia Flower features awe-inspiring displays by the world’s premier floral and landscape designers. This year’s theme “HABITAT: Nature’s Masterpiece,” explores the kaleidoscopic beauty of nature.
The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show closes Sunday, June 13th. Get your tickets here.