Lap of Luxury: fine floral arrangements

- In this week's Lap of Luxury we visit L'Olivier Floral Atelier, where floral artist Olivier Giugni creates the extraordinary floral arrangements you see in some of the finest hotels and restaurants in New York City.

We begin in Olivier's studio in Harlem, an entire building dedicated to weekly arrangements for hotels and venues. His staff starts delivering early in the morning by sneaking flowers into these establishments while their guests are still asleep.

Among his biggest clients are Daniel Boulud, The Plaza Hotel, The Carlyle, The Pierre, and the Loews Regency Hotel.

For nearly 30 years, Olivier has been designing opulent arrangements for luxury clients, but his passion for flowers started in his youth, in the south of France, where he says he was born with a green thumb.

Olivier got his first big break in Paris where he started working for fashion designer Pierre Cardin at Les Fleurs de Maxim's. There, Olivier had his first brush with fame, doing parties for big Hollywood stars including Barbara Streisand and Liza Minnelli. He even designed the flowers for Frank Sinatra's birthday party.

In the 1980s, Olivier moved to Manhattan where he continued to work for Cardin, and became friends with Chef Daniel Boulud. While working with Boulud, Olivier discovered an empty old bookstore on 76th Street and Madison, and L'Olivier Floral Atelier was born.

Today you'll find Olivier's work in a number of elegant locales, where he sends staff to attend to the blooms every day, plucking wilting flowers and refreshing the water daily. He gives the same personal attention to flowers for all occasions from parties to weddings, private residences, even bouquets available on his website: www.lolivier.com.

Floral arrangements start at $125. Intimate weddings being at $5,000. A more lavish affair can run $150,000.

While he's best known for his flowers, Olivier also works wonders with leaves. He claims to be the first person to do leaf-wrapped vases three decades ago. The trend is ubiquitous today. He says he pioneered the move to hide dirty water in vases, and believes leaves are an important part of any arrangement. They help to create lines in a bouquet, and can be a bouquet unto themselves.

If there is one thing Olivier is most passionate about, it's color. His mantra: color is life!

At the holidays Olivier says it's all about sparkle, whether you're decorating a high-end hotel or putting a tree in a private residence. Twelve-foot trees start at $1,500 and can go up to $30,000 depending on your vision and theme. He's done "Under the Sea" trees using fish, all silver trees, black and silver. Once he even decorated a tree using clients' handbags and shoes.

But whether he's working with holiday decorations or smaller bouquets Olivier says there's one essential ingredient in all of his arrangements: the love you put in when you're creating them.

L'Olivier Floral Atelier is located at 19 East 76th Street in Manhattan. L'Olivier Pop-Up Shop will be opening in Brookfield Place on Vesey Street from November 21, 2015, through May 2016.

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