Florist Friday: An Interview with Frederique van der Wal of Frederique’s Choice
Florist Friday is a recurring GC feature where we spotlight different florists who bring a unique, stylish perspective into the world of floral design. This week Garden Collage spoke with Frederique van der Wal of Frederique’s Choice.
Frederique van der Wal isn’t your typical florist: after years spent modeling for Victoria’s Secret, Vogue, Guess, and Revlon, and others, the Top Model exchanged her career in front of the camera in pursuit of a different kind of beauty: flowers.
In 2015 Van der Wal launched Frederique’s Choice in the U.S. after a successful inauguration in Europe, and has since been covered by Marie Claire, Harpaar’s Bazaar, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and many other notable voices in the world of fashion, design, wellness, and gardens. In August 2015, the New York Times profiled her Dutch farmhouse in upstate New York, and around the same time van der Wal partnered with the popular wellness blog MindBodyGreen to outline “How To Use Aromatherapy To Bliss Out Your Home“, which spoke to the depth of the former model’s passion for plants and their aesthetic capacity to heal. Below, GC chats with van der Wal about her career in fashion, what attracted her to the world of flowers, and her efforts to bring the garden into everyday life.
GC: How did you get into flowers? Did you grow up gardening?
FVDW: Growing up in Holland is where the seed was planted. Holland is a country of flowers. Not only tulips– which is what most people associate with Holland– but all kinds of flowers. There are gardens everywhere. Everyone has fresh flowers at home. I grew up having flowers in my home everyday. So when I moved to New York to embark on my journey as a model, I realized how much I missed having flowers around. I would always try to find flowers after I returned from my trips just to brighten my apartment and feel a bit of my home country. Your place comes alive when you have flowers around.
Fast forward to 2005, when Holland named a lily in my honor in recognition of my career in fashion. I was brought into a greenhouse where all these breeds of lilies were shown. It takes 10 years to create one of these amazing blooms! The whole experience and the love I have for flowers brought on the idea of following the amazing journey of how flowers end up in a vase. At the time, I was talking to Discovery, and we made this idea into a TV Show called “The Invisible Journey”. While doing the show, it suddenly became clear to me to combine my love for flowers, my career in fashion, and my Dutch heritage into a lifestyle brand for flowers.
I got more into gardening through a farm I’ve had in upstate New York for about 15 years now. I love being able to work in the garden– it centers me, and it’s a great way to de-stress from all the hectic craziness of New York city.
GC: Did you have a gateway flower? For example, a flower you completely fell in love with that led to a larger love of flowers, or a flower that you tend to zoom in on whenever it’s in season?
FVDW: I love all flowers. Some of my favorites are delphiniums, lilies, roses, hydrangeas, lisianthus, scabiosa, amaranthus, peonies… the list goes on!
GC: How do you keep your creative drive going?
FVDW: A walk in nature does wonders! So does a visit to a gallery or museum, watching a Ted Talk, and talking to my daughter.
GC: What does a typical, say, Tuesday look like for you?
FVDW: My days vary a lot. Last Tuesday I was in a loft in New York shooting new bouquets and lifestyle shots for Frederique’s Choice. Most days I wake up at around 7:30-8, get a kiss from my daughter, and start the day. Some days it involves press, some days its an office day. Lately I have also been filming my forthcoming TV show for A&E network, which is called “Homegrown Makeover”. It will be airing in January.
GC: What are some of your favorite local spots?
GC: Do you have a favorite garden?
FVDW: I love St. Luke’s garden [in New York City]– it’s the best place to have a quick escape to sit under a tree and have a coffee or lunch. The park at Elizabeth Street between Prince and Lafayette is also a nice spot. And of course: the highline is fantastic, but sadly a bit crowded. Still, what an asset to the city!
GC: How do you dress for summer weather? How does your summer style differ from your winter style?
FVDW: In the summer I favor lighter colors and in the Winter I like darker colors, like teal and greys. I love layering.
GC: How would you describe your style? How has it evolved over time?
FVDW: It’s feminine yet strong, and modern in feel. I like there to be an element of flowing asymmetry. My style has evolved over time in that I’m become more daring in my own style.
GC: What are your other floral design influences?
FVDW: Color. Colors are a huge inspiration. Also interiors and fashion in general. Nature in an overall sense! A walk in the Fall foliage is such a huge inspiration to me, and so is travel.
GC: If you could travel to any one destination, floral-wise, where would you go?
GC: How does social media affect your business? How do you interact with it?
FVDW: We live in a world where social media influences everything. Some I like more than others. I love Pinterest, as it’s a great way of expressing your inspiration. Instagram is also a nice source of inspiration, and Facebook is a good way of telling a story. I hope to do a lot more content-driven pieces via YouTube, like inspirational vignettes…
GC: What’s your coffee order?
FVDW: Cafe latte with an oatmeal raisin cookie.