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Mechanics Of The Heart
She’s a muse, a role model and a style icon all in one, but how much do we really know about indie’s favourite frontwoman? Florence Welch opens up to Hot Press about chilling with Karl Lagerfeld, wowing the crowds at the Grammys, and why the best day of her life is just around the corner.
Celina Murphy, 29 Nov 2011
t the risk of angering the all-seeing Julie Andrews, let’s start at the very end.
My interview with gypsy diva and pop powerhouse Florence Welch is in the can, so I want to forget about medieval battles and Frida Kahlo for the evening, something that’s proving terribly difficult. Yup, everyone and their uncle wants to know what Ms. Welch is like, how she looked, what she was wearing, what she’s been up to, if she’s single… One friend even asks what she smells like, but I regret that I do not get paid enough to sniff my interviewees.
To my absolute shock, even my mam knows who Florence Welch is, which, if this can be taken as a measure of notoriety, makes her as famous as Pope Benedict XV and Michael Bublé, and more famous than Lady Gaga or Facebook. Granted, that might be stretching it a bit, but in three short years, the London lass has not only become a bona fide celebrity, but sauntered into that elite group of artists recognisable only by their first name (I’ll bet a certain lamp-toting Victorian war nurse is rolling in her grave).
The night trails along and still, more questions. Is she really as tall as she looks? Is her hair really that colour? Does she really drink like a sailor? I can’t blame anyone for wanting to know what the elusive 25 year-old is like in the flesh. The enduring image of Florence Welch is a statuesque, flame-tressed banshee bellowing to the rafters, her arms thrown wide to embrace an adoring crowd. Yet in interviews, she looks fragile as china, perpetually fidgeting with her hands and stumbling over her words. You don’t have to write about pop stars for a living to think, “What gives?”
the location for our interview is the quainter-than-quaint Portobello Hotel in London’s Notting Hill, which feels as if it were built especially for Florence. A converted neoclassical mansion, it’s a tiny, elegant place cloaked in red velvet interiors, with scene-stealing ferns filling every available space.
Flo’s room on the ground floor is overpowered by a ginormous antique tester bed, which currently serves as a makeshift office for her younger sister and personal assistant Grace. Grace, who is tall, like Florence, but curvier and with blonde cropped hair, is presumably sitting in on all of today’s interviews in case any question rubs the elder Welch up the wrong way. Luckily, I never find out.