• About A Girl: Leah Pipes Meltzer

    We’re exchanging working notes and DIY tips from Austin florist and artist Leah Pipes Meltzer, whose overflowing creativity and free spirited attitude is our latest inspiration. Read on for our conversation on her vintage-meets-modern style, dream projects, and why she says "nothing is greater then a day spent playing with flowers."
    Photos by Kate LeSueur

    Above: Suede trench coat, High-neck shimmer dress

    Can you introduce yourself, please?
    I’m from New Orleans originally and I have been splitting my time between Austin and NO. I also spend about a month or so in New York every year. I guess I say I am an art director, floral designer, prop stylist, and photographer. I am one of those ADD artistic people: I am constantly making photographs, collaborating with artists, and producing work. One of my favorite things is helping artists to fine tune their vision and brand. But florals are my passion; nothing is greater then a day spent playing with flowers. 

    Above: Printed Pants, Top

    How did you get started as a florist? Can you share more about your experience and how you’ve refined your aesthetic? 
    One of my first floral gigs was with Bows and Arrows in Dallas, where I spent hours and hours making garlands and a giant wall display that hung over the dance floor. I have this photo from around this time, with a laundry room where every square inch is covered in hundreds of hydrangeas. I kept thinking to myself, 'I want my life to look exactly like this.' 

    I also started out with botanicals working with my friend's brand Folklorica, which was extremely influential. The owner Tamara, who is a designer and herbalist, showed me her methodology, which involves a ton of foraging. That really deepened my vision and appreciation of naturalism, and how hands-on you can be. It taught me to learn more about the purpose of plants, how they grow and in what context. When we were working together she was doing projects with plants native to Texas. 

    Today, using native plants and what's seasonal and abundant is now extremely essential to my process. I use a wild, inspired approach. I like movement and nothing too constrained.  

    Above: Striped Sweater Dress

    What about your art? It’s cool how you weave so many different creative projects together, and we're curious how/where you see them connecting. 
    I'm enthralled by the lives of objects. For a while I was saving every flower I ever had, and that was even before I started doing florals professionally. Sometimes I think I love flowers just as much dead as I do when they are alive. I’m a collector, a curator, a performer, and [flowers provide] the scene and scenario. 

    Describe a dream project. 
    Any project that has to do with installation. I would love to do a giant, suspended hanging flower garland.

    Above: Navy Jumpsuit

    Can you share a bit about your personal style? You seem to have a really clear sense of mixing vintage and special pieces into what you wear. What types of clothes are you drawn to? 
    I like modern pieces that look vintage, or vintage pieces that look modern. I wear a lot contemporary designers — especially things that feel muted...Recently I bought a pair of lovely pink silk drawstring shorts (almost like gym shorts), which the designer described  as inspired by "future monk." I really like that idea so much. Other ideas I like are: color-blocking, socks with every shoe, and fluctuating between being  elegant and feminine and clunky and masculine.  

    What about if you’re going out for the night? What are some of your go-to looks or tips for dressing up a bit while staying true to your style? 
    Oh, for that I am a dress girl. I always wear a dress to be fancy. I look to the 1930s and 40s as inspiration.

    We love your easy twisted up-do…how can we recreate it?!
    When your hair is wet you just twist twist twist. I usually separate it into two sections, and use a little bit of oil. I love all oils and use them all over my skin, even on my face and in my hair. For the twist, I put a little bit in my palms and work it through my hair while doing the twisting motion, and then bobby pin the two sections up and around. Then later it's really lovely because when your hair is dry you can let it down and you end up with these really nice waves.  

    You mentioned being inspired by art books and photography — what are some favorites?
    My book collection is pretty vast and varied but I guess I like artist monographs the best. I’m extremely interested in iconography and books that allow you to be really immersive. When i was in college I use to pick out an artist at the library and pull out and look at every single book they had on the subject. 

    What are 4 other things that are inspiring you or of current interest? 
    1. My boyfriend is working as an organic vegetable farmer and is raising grass-fed chickens. It's inspiring to watch someone grow things and create humane situations for animals 
    2. French antiquity
    3. Mid-century furniture designers 
    4. Ikebana floral design

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