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Last week on The High Line in New York, we celebrated the first day of summer with a flower-filled party hosted by St-Germain. Upon entering the elevated park at 14th Street, we were greeted by the first of many immersive landscapes, beginning with a green wall of lush white flowers spelling out “Maison St-Germain.” The greenery continued through a maze of decadent backdrops and dangling dividers. Made from lush, colorful flora, the immaculate ambiance was executed by Lily Kwong—the Brooklyn-based landscape designer known for her work at LVMH Miami Design District, New York Botanical Garden, Amour Vert (American Forests’ reforestation program), and for brands like Maiyet, Nike, and H&M.
“I was inspired by the remarkable fact that each bottle of St-Germain is made from 1,000 delicate elderflowers that are hand-picked once a year in Europe. The concept grew out of this idea,” said Kwong. “In the end, we installed over 13,000 flowers and 200 linear feet of green walls on The High Line.”
Recognized for her environmentally-conscious installations and re-use, Kwong was sure to donate all foliage to Roots of Peace—a humanitarian non-profit organization that replaces landmines with agricultural crops worldwide—and the Roots of Peace Garden, created in May 2002.
“We de-installed The High Line project through the night and sent over the leftover blooms to our ‘picnic’ at the United Nations. It was moving to hand out flowers to our fellow New Yorkers—strangers from Ethiopia, India, Denmark, and beyond.”
That night, guests enjoyed a live DJ set by Mia Moretti, a festive photo booth, cocktails created by ambassador Camille Ralph Vidal, styling by Laura Jones (wherein the entire St-Germain team was dressed in sustainable clothing from brands like Zero Maria Cornejo, TOME, Reformation, and Anaak), and a dance performance directed by Mafalda Millies and choreographed by Nathan Mitchell, “The Solar-Do-Nothing-Dance.”
“When I found out the performance was to premiere on Summer Solstice, the day when the earth’s axis is most aligned with the sun, I couldn’t get the idea of Charles and Ray Eames’ Solar Do-Nothing Machine (1957) out of my head,” said Millies. “My aim was to create a performance that juxtaposed the industrial and mechanical features of the High Line’s past as a railway, and the natural and botanical features of its present as a transformed public park.”
The performance, produced by Eliza Soros, payed homage to the kinetic solar-fueled device, as one of the first pieces to convert solar energy to electricity, brought to life by dance, music, design, and technology—in addition to St-Germain’s French heritage.
“It was such a great experience working with Nathan, added Millies. “He put together an incredibly talented and unique set of dancers—each of which gave a different character to the five structural costumes that the talented costumers, Simone Duff and Jon Can Coskunses, created. The composer Charles Derenne made a beautiful original score for the ‘Solar-Do-Nothing-Dance,’ which was accompanied by a live concert by the stunning violinist Molly Fletcher and drummer Paddy Boom. Seeing the magic Nathan brought to life with his beautiful choreography once everything came together on the High Line, suspended above the bustling New York street life, was such an incredible experience. He truly managed to bring Eames’ machine to life!”
After one last St-Germain sip, photo snap, and twirl under the floral canopies, it was time to make our way down the park, and into the night. Guests had the chance to catch one more pose in front of the garden mazes and flower-adorned bicycles before exiting, catching Summer Solstice at its peak.
“St-Germain really empowered me to express my design vision, and in the process, gave a platform to so many gifted artists to create an extraordinary installation on one of New York’s most iconic landmarks,” said Kwong. “It is so refreshing to work with a brand that truly supports creatives. Chloe Lloyd-Jones, the Global Vice President of St-Germain, trusted me to completely drive the design vision, layer the landscape with performance artists, and donate the florals to a humanitarian non-profit after the opening. Rather than holding me to stringent brand guidelines, as collaborators, they lived up to their brand ethos—which is all about being daring and supporting creative expression.”