The lush life of Kally Ellis

The McQueens Founder and Managing Director shares top floral design trends with id

Known for her keen instincts and unrivaled aesthetic sensibility, celebrity florist Kally Ellis can do it all – and she has. Having no previous experience with flowers, she left her career working for French bank Credit Commercial de France in London to open a flower shop – after having a dream in which she owned one. Twenty-five years later, she is the owner of a US$6 million business. Her latest luxury client: Jumeirah Group. McQueens worked with Jumeirah’s in-house florists to create the displays for Jumeirah Al Naseem, the hotel opening within the Madinat Jumeirah resort. Ellis sat down with us for an exclusive interview.

McQueens Founder and Managing Director Kally Ellis
McQueens Founder and Managing Director Kally Ellis

What are the main trends in floral arrangements today?

The minimal look is going out and a fuller, wilder look is coming back. We are veering away from the exotics and sticking to what’s seasonal.

What are the most popular flowers for 2017?

There is really more of a ‘flower of the season’. In the UK, in early spring, tulips are coming into season. My favourite flower at the moment is the Helleborus niger (the Christmas Rose). It’s very hardy, so in a hotel it would easily last a week.

What is the most dramatic landscape that you’ve ever created?

One of the most glamourous parties we have done for 20 years is the Vanity Fair Oscars party in Los Angeles. You also get to get to go to the party!

McQueens in Mulberry SS13
McQueens in Mulberry SS13

What influences your designs?

I am very inspired by my team. When I hired them I didn’t look for their floral skills, because we can teach them that. Instead, I looked for people with natural creative flair.

What is the biggest challenge of a celebrity florist?

To listen, interpret and not to force your taste on others. I hate when people pigeon-hole us. I know we are trend-setting and contemporary, but we do everything.

Do you have a favourite flower or a favourite colour?

I have seasonal favourites. In springtime [or] early summer it’s the Lily of the Valley. In the autumn, I love Dahlias. I know they’re associated with being old-fashioned, but they are coming back. I love muted, antique colours, such as dirty pinks and muted mauves.

McQueens flower display

How do you create maximum impact with only a few flowers?

Vessels are very important. Cylinders are always a safe bet. To make a big statement get a big bulbous vase with a very small hole that will only allow you to put a single stem in it.

How do you make the arrangement last as long as possible?

Our trick of the trade: a quarter of a sterilising tablet.