Saying it with flowers - Life and Style - The Independent

Saying it with flowers

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NIKKI TIBBLES, owner of Wild at Heart, florist to London's most stylish, is disparaging of poncy titles like "flower designer". "I just do flowers," she explains. Still, Tibbles "does" flowers for Tom Ford at Gucci, and the launches and showrooms of Betty Jackson, Chanel and Rifat Ozbek.

"There's nothing glamorous about being a florist with a 5.30am start," Tibbles states emphatically. The early morning chill means she wraps up in "outdoor, fleecy Puffa stuff" by Nick Ashley (57 Ledbury Road, London W11, tel: 0171 221 1221) and jeans by Carhartt (0171 379 4165) or APC (0171 229 4933). Thick, strong specialist gardening scissors have left the florist with some nasty callouses and scissor marks (she can't work with gloves on), and this, combined with the effects of the cold, means Tibbles goes through gallons of handcream by Clarins (0171 629 2979). "Recently I went to The Life Centre (15 Edge Street, London W8, 0171 221 4602) where they sell Decleor products and lavender bath oils by Dr Hauschka." The Centre also offers Thai massages (a masseuse manipulates your limbs, rather like having yoga done to you). Tibbles prefers this "proper massage" once a month to having a beautician "flapping about".

When she's not in her gardener's gear, nice clothes are a "real treat" for Tibbles. She loves Dosa and Boyd, from The Cross (141 Portland Road, London W11, 0171 727 6760). "I love Miu Miu clothes (0171 409 0900) for the fabric and cut, and they do amazing shoes. Elspeth Gibson's new shop (7 Pont Street, London SW1, 0171 235 0601) is beautiful and I love Betty Jackson's easy-to-wear clothes (0171 589 7884). One of my favourite things - my black leather coat - is by her. Most of my work keeps me in and around London, but when I can I love buying Tocca (001 212 343 3912) and Kate Spade (001 212 2741991) in New York."

Tibbles hardly ever buys jewellery. But in Solange Azagury-Partridge's shop (171 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 0171 792 0197) she did get, fittingly, a "flower ring". "It's amazing, with a peridot lime green centre and aquamarine petals."

When Tibbles is at work, she often pops into nearby Tom's Deli (226 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 0171 221 8818) for "ready made stuff". She also likes Kevin Gould's Realfood in Little Venice (14 Clifton Road, London W9, tel: 0171 226 1162) and fresh meat and fish from Conran's Bluebird supermarket (350 King's Road, London SW3, tel: 0171 559 1222) at the weekend.

Friends of the florist would probably be slightly miffed if they only ever received Wild at Heart blooms, so Tibbles often gives stylish vases as gifts instead. Currently, Tibbles favours vases by Jonathan Adler, as well as bright pink and green acrylic ones by Cec la Page from Space (enquiries: 0171 229 6533). If she does give flowers (current favourites include a new rose, "Emerald", or 30 stems of deep blue or red Dutch hydrangeas), Tibbles sends them in Wild at Heart's white tracing paper ("I visited Smithfield's meat market to see what the butchers there wrapped their meat in!"), or in sheets from Falkiner Fine Papers in the Holborn/ Bloomsbury area (0171 831 1151).

If Wild at Heart didn't exist, where would Tibbles shop for stems? "New Covent Garden Flower Market (0171 720 2211), and Columbia Road Market (Ezra Street, London E2: 0171 364 4970) is good but there's no telling how long the flowers will last. Clifton Nurseries (0171 289 6851) has a great range. Oh, and in Paris there are two great shops called Au Nom de la Rose (00 331 46341064) and Christian Tortu (00 331 43260256)."

Imogen Fox

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