Darroch and Michael Putnam, founders, Putnam & Putnam
Michael Putnam: I started working with flowers as a hobby. I went to FIT for interior design and got a job shortly before graduation, and I was immediately overwhelmed. I wanted to create and get my hands dirty. So I started working with flowers as a hobby, and Darroch did my work.
Darroch Putnam: And that’s how I got there. We met in Southern California, met and moved to New York nine years ago. When he started working with flowers, we were already married. He would style arrangements at home on the weekends and then publish them on his social media. So it went up in the air. We started holding events, dinner. He did a Vogue editorial for their site shortly afterward that really put everything in the shade.
MP: The Vogue article was my first editorial appearance. They wanted me to recreate a Dutch still life with flowers. It really made sense to me to see these old paintings. If you look at them from an aesthetic point of view – composition, and color – it has really influenced everything we do now.
DP: It was such an easy decision to work together. It didn’t have to be flowers, it could have been interior design, it could have been anything. We only knew that we are so compatible in terms of relationships – we are always on the same wavelength.
MP: With flowers I am primarily creative, and Darroch does everything else.
DP: I think flowers in front of us were just another thing on the checklist for an event. We created romance with flowers – it’s lush, it’s green, it brings nature into play. We have shifted the focus to where, when you hire us for an event, you make flowers the focus of the conversation. And we are completely self-taught. Our first weddings were super small and we just started learning. At the beginning we said yes to everything and only learned that way. Finding a business that inspired us and figuring out how we could make money from it was definitely an ever-changing thing for us.
We have been in business for five years and now we are also dealing with: ‘OK, we have weddings, we have organized events, we have published a book, what is next? How can we still be creatively inspired? “[Flower arranging] is an industry in which it is very easy to get stale and do the same things over and over again. Yes, people hire you for it, but the main disadvantage is that it becomes more difficult to stay creatively inspired.
MP: We really pushed to make flowers an art form, not just a focus.
DP: The wedding of Gwyneth Paltrow was an amazing moment for me. We were asked to do exactly what we do best – to realize our own vision – and it was so nice. So much trust has been placed in us. It was a very confident thing about “Oh yeah, we can fucking do it again.”
MP: Last April we had a 14-page spread in Vogue, and that was really cool because we worked with Grace Coddington and Steven Klein and created this crazy fantasy set. It was wonderful. And also intensive – it was three 14-hour days.
DP: It’s funny because the flowers always work. Even bringing them home is work, so we don’t have much here. One thing we’re working on is developing an online solution that allows people to learn more about flowers. There really isn’t an amazing teaching tool out there. We have workshops, but they are expensive. What we do for our website is basically our book, but a much more comprehensive concept.
MP: It takes me longer to get ready in the morning [than Darroch]. I don’t wash my hair every day because it’s really curly and I don’t want to dry it out and frizzy it. I rinse daily, but I may only wash it twice a week. On these days I use Aesop shampoo and conditioner. They also have a nice scalp oil that I like to use before I go to bed – it gives very good moisture. Another great product for hair is the Violet Leaf Balm that Aesop makes. It is super moisturizing and great for curly hair. And so is the Ouai styling cream. This is the best.
DP: I use the Ouai styling cream right after showering, and if I want to wear part of my hair, I use the matte Ouai stuff. To add texture to my hair, I use Kiehl’s Texturizing Clay. My hair is too loose when I don’t wear anything. One of our friends just lost his hair and recommended this nutritional supplement called Nutrafol to me. It’s expensive, but it’s really incredible. They market it as a hair preparation, but also as a whole-body preparation.
MP: Sometimes when my face is extra dry, I clean it with Aesop’s Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil. I know I say a lot of Aesop products, but I really like them! [Darroch and I] use the same moisturizer from Aesop, the Primose. I have very sensitive skin and just feel comfortable on my skin. And we love the Caudalie Beauty Elixir – it’s really moisturizing. I love exfoliating my face with Aesop Exfoliant Paste – it contains quartz and is so good. I use it three times a week. Also I love the masks. Buly has this recipe book for your skin and sells these crazy oils in the store. You talk to someone there and they say, “This, this and this is the best combination for your skin.” So I take these and make my own masks.
I use acai oil and cassis oil and mix them with various dry ingredients. I have red clay, raspberry seeds, and raw cocoa powder. The cocoa powder is really granular, so it’s nice to wash it off because it exfoliates. And then I put apple cider vinegar in my masks instead of water. [Darroch and I] we just started with Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen. The texture is crazy – it feels like a dry oil and literally makes your skin look like silk.
DP: The texture is not slimy at all, it feels amazing. We also use a Desert Essence tea tree face wash to prevent breakouts. I always start to break out when it gets hot outside. The Aesop anti-blemish chamomile mask is also good. At night I use this Buly cleansing water, which I rub with a cotton swab instead of washing my face. And I love their toothpaste, which I think is so chic. I think it works somehow okay? [Laughs]
MP: Do you know what’s really good? Biopelle. The woman who does our botox, Jessica Plotnick …
DP: It is important to mention! We see Jessica Plotnick every four months to get botox on our foreheads and eyes!
MP: … and she recommended Biopelle eye cream. She said it’s literally the best. They use snail stem cells or something – I don’t know. I really like it.
DP: About a year ago he started getting botox before I did. I think our job is very stressful and I started getting snakes, so I thought, “Fuck it.” Our dentist is Jennifer Plotnick and she runs Grand Street Dental in Williamsburg – she is one of the best dentists in New York. And her sister makes botox and fillers – she is one of the best-known beauticians in New York.
BODY + TATTOOS + FRAGRANCE
DP: Ouai has a really nice scrub that I like to use in the shower. When I come out of the shower, I use Buly body oil, which I think is much better than a moisturizer. One thing I hate about Aesop is that their lotions don’t absorb! But the Buly oil is a dry oil and is so well absorbed. It smells of roses. It is so French, so beautiful.
MP: The smell is absolutely incredible.
DP: I got tattoos when I was 18 years old. The last artist to be seen in Warsaw [Mikey and I are] was called Patryk Hilton, and we see him when he travels to London and gets tattoos there.
MP: We use Aquaphor to care for our tattoos.
DP: And moistening after every shower helps to take care of them.
MP: And we use the Aesop SPF 50 for the body because it smells incredible.
DP: And the spray from Trader Joe is really good! And easy!
DP: I love Frederic Malle for scents. I use her Carnal Flower fragrance as a hair scent – it smells of Santa Barbara. It is a white flower and really beautiful. I like to wear Monsieur in winter. It’s kind of chocolatey with patchouli and vetiver. And I have a French lover – so good!
MP: I love Carner’s Black Calamus and mix it with this Buly fragrance, Makassar. It is based on water, so it does not last that long, but when mixed with the Carner fragrance it is very, very beautiful.
FITNESS + NAILS
DP: I train five days a week. I see my trainer three days a week and then I usually do a Pilates course, a spin course or a Barre course – Barre is so difficult! But I will say that I made more progress with my trainer in three months than I did alone for three years. Classes are great, but it’s worth paying special attention to. I learned to train properly, but also to breathe properly. My trainer literally taught me to breathe [laughs].
MP: I love cardio. I’m not a good runner, but I like to run around in Prospect Park or on the East River.
DP: I also like crazy nail art. I see this Tak that used to be at Vanity Projects. I go every two and a half weeks and it’s such a cathartic thing. He does whatever and he paints the design by hand. We usually do gel nails because we work with flowers. Being gay, I didn’t want to be female for so much of my life. I kind of suppressed that, and in the past few years my attitude has been: “Oh, I can be male, see my trainer and have tattoos, but I can also paint my nails and wear hair clips.” I love it when my nails throw People off. I watch people look at them and I think that’s a funny picture.
MP: I bit my nails very badly and when I started doing my nails I stopped. I don’t do nail art, just plain colors. Red is my favorite color. Scarlet.
– as reported to ITG
Darroch and Michael Putnam were photographed by Tom Newton in New York on July 1, 2019.