International Women’s Day x escentials Presents Aude Giraud, Ask A French Flowers
“Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get.”
That famous line may sound a little clichéd 23 years after Sally Field first uttered it in Forrest Gump, but Aude Giraud would certainly attest to it.
The 33-year-old, who has Indonesian heritage, was born and bred in Paris, and cut her teeth as a broadcast journalist. But as fate would have it, Aude and her husband Antoine, who works for Dailymotion, found themselves relocating halfway around the world to a pretty different setting of Singapore.
“My father remarried a Singaporean lady and he’s been living in Singapore for 30 years so Singapore has always been my second home,” she bantered. “I’ve been coming here since I was four years old … so I really feel like Singapore is a second home to me.”
She continued: “(My husband and I) discussed about moving abroad and he wanted to be in an English-speaking country. So it felt obvious to me that it should be Singapore. My life in Paris was very, very hectic and tiring. I spent three years working for a daily show where I had to produce something every day.”
By sheer coincidence, Antoine had the opportunity to decide where he would like to work next so moving to Singapore came naturally for the couple.
Ironically, the move saw Aude’s innate passion for all things floral blossom – pun intended - in the Lion City, a place one would normally associate as one of the world’s most densely built-up jungles, but the concrete, not natural, type. Settling in the retro-esque neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru just outside the central business district, the broadcast journalist-turned-floral stylist set up Ask A French Flowers and soon realised Singapore has always been that home away from home for her.
How did you stumble upon this whole flower business?
When I came here, I didn’t know if I wanted to (continue being) in the media so I thought I should (lead) a slow(er) life. That’s what actually lead me to flowers. I spent some time thinking about what my interests and hobbies were and flowers have always been something important, but not (an) obvious (choice). I started making flowers (in Singapore) and bringing them to friends’ houses as gifts. Instead of bringing a bottle of wine or a dessert, I would bring flowers. I had a friend working in Chanel who asked me to (arrange flowers) work for them. That time, I wasn’t really confident because I didn’t have the skills to do it. She said: “Never mind, I like your style, you can try.” And that’s when I decided to attend (floral arrangement classes), go back to France and train with a florist and come back to Singapore as a professional.
What do you enjoy most as a floral stylist?
I like doing bouquets because (it signifies) a special relationship with people when you (arrange) a bouquet. You take extra care of what you do because you know that it will spread a message. There’s a language with flowers and that’s what I like about it. .
You have a great selection of candles at home. Why do you like them so much?
Candles help me feel at home. From diptyque, I like Baies but I also love Feu De Bois, which is like a fireplace that reminds me of winters in France in the countryside. You would just light a candle and if you have the chance to have a fireplace, you would drink wine, eat some cheese and chill. So the candles really remind me of (moments by) the fireplace, in that sense? A cosy thing.
Which is your current favourite?
I’ve discovered Soh Melbourne and I like the fact that it’s all copper. But I really love Cire Trudon. Gabrielle is one of the fragrances that I really like. (It smells) a bit like bubble gum.
How do you think these scents empower you?
They reassure me. It’s something very reassuring. The scents remind you of something from your childhood or moments that you share with somebody. When I feel a bit insecure, I would just inhale some of my favourite perfumes and I will feel better. It’s like someone will eat a cake (to feel better). For me, I will just inhale my favourite perfume. A La Nuit from Serge Lutens is really the one (that I’m attracted to). (It reminds me of) Sunday mornings in bed.
International Women’s Day came and went but what does it mean to you?
It means that we - as women - should really take care of ourselves and be gentle to ourselves. That’s a day that should be a reminder that we are great and we can do great things.
Do you find that we are sometimes too harsh on ourselves?
Yes. And actually, some men think that we are too harsh on ourselves, too. For example, when a woman is looking for a job, she won’t be as confident as a man. And they will notice it. The man will say, “Yes I will get the job” and the woman will be like, hmm, I don’t know if I did well. That shouldn’t be a problem; we should be more confident.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing women today?
I think women shouldn’t be worried to have children. Some women… they will be worried because of their job and things like that. Companies need to do something so that women won’t be afraid to have children (while pursuing their careers).
Photos: Hosanna Swee