Pluck a clever, peripherally observant, and beautiful woman from the world. Literally any part of the world—far or near, rich or rare, physical or internet. A skyward follower count is not a determinant for selection. Ask her a set of questions that invite a discussion of sexuality, sensuality, modern feminism, career, and creativity, explored through her very personal lens. Have her answer them. And there you have it: that’s In Touch, a Par Femme segment, assembled, for you, with pleasure. This week, we chat to Gabrielle Chevalley of Outside This Room.
Gabrielle Chevalley is a floral and plant stylist with a tremendous knack for brightening up spaces with her beautiful blossoms. As the founder of Outside This Room—a Sydney-based wedding and events styling company—she spends the bulk of her time sourcing, designing and creating all manner of floral arrangements, from large-scale installations for art, music and beauty events, to the wedding bouquets of your ~blooming~ dreams.
Curiosity and hard work underscores everything the ray of sunshine does. Be it achieving the impossible feat of making gerberas cool again, travelling around Australia spreading her floral-flavoured joy, or signing up to work on an organic flower farm in Adelaide to gain a deeper understanding of her craft.
If you do yourself one favour today, it should be getting to know the talented flower enthusiast better below. Once you've filled your brain with all the wise and wonderful things she has to say about creativity, communication and cultivating your own happiness, go take a peep at all the magic she spins on her Instagram feed here.
Spoiler alert: It will be a seriously mood-enhancing exercise.
Hello! Can you give us the Gabrielle Chevalley elevator pitch?
I'm a flower, plant and outdoor enthusiast. I spend my days designing, sourcing and creating floral installations. I'm inspired by the Australian landscape and laid-back lifestyle, and try to split my time between the country and the sea.
What gets you in the mood to create?
Early mornings, unusual finds at the flower markets, finding something unexpected from the garden or farm, and listening to some jazzy toons after a coffee.
Any failsafe tips for pulling yourself out of a creative funk?
Taking time to look at what other creatives are doing. I love a good trawl through Insta, Pinterest and mags. It doesn’t have to be relevant to flowers—it can be anything from ceramicists and painters to musicians and interior designers. I love watching what other people create.
What initially drew you to work with flowers?
I have a strong affinity with plants and flowers from growing up on a farm. I am happiest when I am outdoors exploring or peeping in other people's gardens!
How do you go from the ideas phase of a project to the execution?
Oooh, I am obsessed with trying to nail down a good creative process. So far I’ve found it goes a little something like this: sourcing and accumulating ideas; putting those ideas on paper, either by collating images onto a document or doodling a little picture; heading to the markets to find what fits that or foraging from the garden and/or farm; and then letting my hands do the work, putting it together in an almost trance-like state.
Do you follow a similar process every time?
Sometimes that process can happen in reverse. It really depends on what I'm working on. If it's for a client, I try to stick to a similar process, but if it's just for me I try and change things up to see what comes out of it.
What have been some of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on to date, and why?
Working with a dear friend on a project for Sony Music. It was a listening party for an album release and was set in this incredible pink house with a beautiful garden. I got to make this enormous hanging installation that guests sat beneath and the table was decorated to look like a forest floor. I worked with truly beautiful staff and friends, which is always so nice.
What are your favourite flowers to work with at the moment (or trends)?
The 90s nostalgia fashion trend at the moment has inspired me to revisit some floral trends from that era. Namely, Birds of Paradise, Gerberas, Lilies, Daisies and Gladioli.
I like to explore flowers that aren’t traditional pretty and find a way to make them work. For example, flowers that have a reputation for being a bit daggy, either from being overdone or done in the wrong way for so long.
Do you have any other creative outlets? How do you think they help with your craft?
I’ve been trying to spend more of my spare time painting, drawing and collaging. It’s a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of floristry—it slows me down and teaches me to be patient.
What qualities are you attracted to in another person?
A sense humour. My partner and I spend quite a lot of time laughing with (and at) each other. Also, my friends could probably be professional comedians judging by the amount of time I spend laughing when I'm with them.
Three Instagram accounts we should be following?
@ruby_marylennox—truly one of the most beautiful and original florists
@theflowerseekers—for all things flowers
@thepleasuregardenmagazine—flowers and gardens to make your heart sing
What’s a piece of advice about relationships/sex that you wish you knew when you were young?
People aren’t mind readers; if you feel a certain way you need to let the other person know. No matter if it’s how you feel in a romantic, work or platonic relationship, or whether it's in relation to pleasure. You need to express yourself—you can’t just expect people to know what’s going on in your head.
Don’t rely on other people for your happiness. I think we put too much emphasis on our romantic partnerships to provide everything. Everyone has to take responsibility for how they feel and how they react to people and situations.
What was the last book you read that really shifted your perspective on the world?Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. It gives an intimate and educated perspective on the process of dying and what should be considered with end of life care. We tend to avoid thinking and planning for this inevitable part of our lives.
The world can feel overwhelming and uncertain at times. What do you do to stay sane?
Taking time out with walks on the beach, heading back to the farm and reading. I try to remember to be kind to myself and to step away from unhappy situations.
Which females inspire you most?
The women in my family, my closest girlfriends and the women that I work with. I feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by some of the strongest, most intelligent women.
How do we make the most of our time on Earth?
Spend time with the people you love and doing the things you love. Happiness should be used as a compass—you might not always be on the direct path, but it’s a good indicator you're not far off.