161 Seventh Avenue South
No surprise that floral designer of the moment Luis Collazo cites Diego Rivera, Henri Matisse, and Mark Rothko as sources of inspiration. His arrangements -- say, an explosive combination of hot-orange tulips and bursts of deep-purple trichelium, or a handblown Parisian glass vase brimming with shocking-pink Rothschild lilies and black Bacarrat roses -- have the intensity of small works of art. Prices start at $50 for one of his unique "round wheat-grass meadows" -- a grouping of blossoms (grape hyacinths tend to figure prominently this time of year) nestled in a natural container of grass and roots. Before opening his bright, beautiful little Greenwich Village shop, Collazo -- possibly the nicest person you will ever meet who is clad entirely in leather -- spent years designing events for the likes of Mickey Rourke, Grace Mirabella, Thierry Mugler, and Moschino. ("When Franco was alive, he was a wonderful client, but he drove me crazy with all those carnations!") You'd do well to allow Collazo as much free rein as you dare, but while he may be an artist, he's no artiste -- he's a firm believer in giving people what they want. "Real talent," he avers, "is when you can make something out of anything."