Human Flower Project

At Home with Chaos

The Obamas are poised to hire a new First Florist, a fan of chaos and French style.


Laura Dowling, said to be the top contender for post of White House florist

Photo: Parisian Events

The latest presidential rumor here in the U.S. is human-flower gossip. Washington Post sources say that Laura Dowling, a Francophile from Alexandria, Virginia, will likely become the new White House florist.

“In June, chief florist Nancy Clarke retired after 31 years in the mansion, and there was speculation that Michelle Obama wanted a more contemporary look for flowers. Two weeks ago, three designers slipped into the White House for a tryout: Each created a state dinner centerpiece, flowers for the Oval Office, etc.—and Dowling’s romantic French look apparently won the day.”

imageBrimming—an arrangement by Laura Dowling

Photo: Laura Dowling

We suppose that by “romantic” the Post writers refer to Dowling’s less staid approach. She describes her aesthetic as French (her shop in Old Town has an accent: Intérieurs et Fleurs). “It is this combination of wild chaos and strong artistic vision that I find so compelling in the French style,” said Dowling in this interview.

She continues: “it’s important to incorporate a broad range of materials – an entire landscape, if you will – into the French bouquet.” And indeed you will see lots more vines, leaves, and shaggy looking vegetation in her arrangements, as if a very discriminating scythe has swept over a meadow and all the plants were scrunched into a big ol’ crock. Delightful and, on closer inspection, fascinatingly intricate.

Check out her website for many examples. The first word we think of is “bunchy.” Is that a word? Also, “soft,” “ornate,” “fuzzy,” “crowded,” and “happy.”

Who are (or were)  the other finalists who tried out with state-dinner centerpieces?  If you know, please rumor us. But we very much like the idea of president who finds “wild chaos” (and the French) appealing.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/20 at 04:34 PM


I should have known there was a chief florist post at the White House.  I like the First Florist title!  Hopefully there will not be too much ranting about the “French-ness” of this Obama admin employee.

Posted by Georgia on 10/23 at 11:52 AM

I looked at Laura Dowling’s portfolio and her work is breathtaking and extraordinary!  I just finished studying chaos theory, and I appreciate the French aesthetic, so this post describing the combination of the two really moved me.  Makes me think Jackie Kennedy’s spirit lives on in the White House; I’m sure she would have been delighted with Ms. Dowling…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/23 at 05:11 PM

Thanks, Ann and Georgia, for checking this out and sending your thoughts and observations.

I’ve snooped on a couple of florist forums and it seems Laura Dowling is a charming person as well as a highly original florist. Hope she gets the gig! Maybe, with Michelle Obama on board, she’ll even bring back corsages.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/23 at 09:40 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.