When I was introduced to Krista Chiu, founder of KHLORIS NY by an Instagram image of her painting roses on a floor in a Calvin Klein sports bra, I knew we had to meet. Weeks later on a balmy Sunday in Soho we discussed California, Calla lillies and creativity.
Krista transforms flowers into modern art with her off the grid materials and meticulous eye. It's interesting, refreshing, and exciting all at once. While she created on that Sunday, I noticed how her floral designs were powerful without overpowering a room, something she strives for. A mantra of hers is to let the flowers speak; I love that. #itsplantporn
IPP:WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND AND WHAT LED YOU TO FLORAL DESIGN?
KC: I went to UC Davis and was not in the horticulture program – I studied finance and I was going to be a banker. It happened that when I was graduating it was 2008 so it wasn’t easy to get into the zone of things. My family needed some help with their business in Asia so I moved to Shanghai for a year.
I started working for Alexander Wang there doing production and product development from the countryside. I was fresh out of college, I didn’t know anything but it was just by chance that I started there. A year later they moved me to New York.
I was at Wang for five and a half years. It was a pretty fortunate gig- it was really fun. I guess you would say I got my fashion grooming there.
When I started working with flowers I just began by helping out with a friend’s wedding and really fell in love with it. Then I started perfecting my craft on my own.
I remember thinking it would be a dream to do flowers for Wang. Someone in HR said, "We’re just going to test you out by swapping your flowers and see if he notices." I was so nervous – but I worked with this guy everyday!
He noticed that it was different and asked his assistant if it was a new florist and she said “Yes, it’s Krista.” He said “Krista from menswear?” and sent me an email as a thank you. He approved and I started doing Alex's office monthly then the showroom and the Soho store. Now I mainly focus on the showroom and his office. I love really weird things that aren't so traditional so set design and anything editorial is what I really love to do.
IPP:DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS.
KC: When I worked in menswear for Wang it was in product development, sourcing the fabric. Fabric is one of my loves- it’s a lot of different textures so that how I tie into florals. There's always a color story and then something very textural. When you think about coming up with a collection you start with fabric and your color story and inspirations and you kind of evolve it into whatever you want it to be.
I love an all white arrangement but it has to be with different types of white flowers and you're bringing in different textures and movement.
IPP: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT WORKING WITH FLOWERS?
KC: It comes natural to me and its very therapeutic. There's this strange connection and it’s a very hands on experience.
"i love the process of being exploratory."
IPP: WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT PLANT AND WHY?
KC: Amaryllis. It is very closed when you buy it but once it opens up it's very big and beautiful. It takes time to open up - you can see all the changes and moments from that flower.