NYC's Flower Girl Will Make You Swoon

It's a fact: Athena Calderone is a curator of all things gorgeous. Her breathtaking home decor, delicious recipes, and eye for style inspired her to create EyeSwoon, a hub for home and food inspiration. Now, It Girl Calderone will be taking us to New York's need-to-know spots and introducing us to the coolest people around.
Meeting the lovely and crazy-talented Denise Porcaro, creator of Lower Manhattan’s Flower Girl NYC, was a chance encounter at a mutual friend's Nolita boutique. I was instantly captivated by this stunning creature with piecing-blue eyes, a warm demeanor, and distinct style. Later that very evening, I was smitten by the petite and artfully arranged florals that adorned the tabletop at an intimate dinner party. When I learned these whimsical arrangements that evoked a rustic-yet-elegant edge were none other than Flower Girl, I thought…okay, well here’s a sign.
At that very moment, I whipped out my phone, "Do you think Denise might want to collaborate on an EyeSwoon spring-flower feature?” And there you have it...that’s how magic happens! I went from not knowing Denise to having a full-on SWOON feast! Spending the entire day together, first at the flower market then moving on to her charming and perfectly curated Flower Girl storefront. Watching Denise in her environment, experiencing her palpable passion for florals, and learning her brilliant and natural flower-arranging tips just might have been one of my favorite days ever!
Flower Girl approaches flowers in a refreshing way...with an edge that adds personality and a juxtaposition that makes her stand out amongst the rest. Her aesthetic and unique style of combining unusual floral varieties, textures, and use of quirky vessels, gained her the respect of many top fashion brands she now calls clients.
Denise and I created two very distinct style floral arrangements, both jaw-droppingly gorgeous! Our concept for this feature was to show both super-luxurious flowers you can only purchase at the flower market to your basic petals you can always count on finding at any corner deli. I think we can agree that there is always a need for both the high and the low…what’s essential is making them both SWOON~worthy beautiful!
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Photo: Athena Calderone/Courtesy of Eye Swoon
Classic and timeless NYC restaurant that makes you swoon?
"Gramercy Tavern."

Dish you cook most often for yourself at home?
"I haven't been cooking at all, so lame, but a good piece of fish and some veggies is always super-easy."

Go-to dish or meal to make for a dinner party or group of friends?
"I'm Italian, so one of many Italian specialities is a no-brainer. Mediterranean cooking is what I'm most comfortable with, and it usually is able to [do] well for larger groups."

What can't you live without?
"It's a total toss-up between good, real love and sleep."
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Photo: Athena Calderone/Courtesy of Eye Swoon
Breakfast routine?
"Terrible, but I don't eat breakfast! Coffee is my routine, usually at home. I have a morning routine pre-gym, usually which involves making a cup or three, emails, music (a light reggae or jazz — depending on the day of the week and the weather outside — are usually my morning soundtrack). Loving on my dogs!"

Music currently in rotation?
"Mumford & Sons, The Smiths, Led Zeppelin, Jackson 5, Ella Fitzgerald."

Always stocked in your fridge, freezer, or pantry is…?
"Coconut water and fruit. I love to cook, but buy per each meal. If you come over, however, I can promise you always: some Smartwater, Pellegrino, coconut water, bananas, berries of some sort, and maybe a mango."
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Photo: Athena Calderone/Courtesy of Eye Swoon
Favorite spring flower?
"Poppies, peonies, sweet pea (did you really expect me to pick just one?!)."

A flower that gets underused or underrated?
"Carnations. I know; the music just stopped, wherever you are reading this, but there are some gorgeous varieties and vibrant colors. And if they are used in abundance or counteracting each other's color, they can really make for a stunning summer centerpiece."

For someone on a strict budget, what flower packs a punch?
"Roses. I know it sounds simple, but they are so beautiful. There are so many beautiful varieties to either stand alone or be mixed, and you can always find them. Simple, white roses can be so elegant and clean and just make you happy."

Please tell us how to make our flowers last longer.
"Change the water every other day, snip about 1/4 inch when you do, and with branchy stems, remember to cut up into the stem or smash the bottom. So, really expose the vein, so that your blooms or branches can drink."
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Photo: Athena Calderone/Courtesy of Eye Swoon
Denise teaches Athena to make flower arrangements — even from her corner deli.
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Photo: Athena Calderone/Courtesy of Eye Swoon
Most swoonable flower?
"Things that smell amazing. In spring, lily of the valley (I just got my hands on some imported from Italy, and it was amaze-balls!) or sweet pea, which I bury my nose in every time I'm at the market this time of year."

Do you always begin an arrangement with a green base?
"You do always begin with a green base when arranging, but when buying, it should be the opposite. Buy your blooms and then find a green that accentuates or complements your flowers."

Any quick tips for flower vessels?
"Vessels can really be anything that you have around. They don't have to match. For a table, make sure that they aren't too high."