Lily Kwong Transforms the N.Y.C. Highline Into A Magical Labyrinthe
13,000 stems, 2 cups of matcha, 6 golf-ball sized bruises, 200 feet of green wall, 2 solid sunblock applications, a dozen sketches and 20 hours of installation. That is what model-turned-landscape artist Lily Kwong went through to produce the impressive floral installation that is currently up on the N.Y.C. highline. In celebration of the summer solstice, Kwong partnered with liqueur brand St-Germain to curate an outdoor party that can only be done the way New Yorkers know how: All Out.
Situated atop The Highline (the former above-ground railroad track that’s now a public park) Kwong’s garden party is a 16th century inspired maze inspired by the liqueur brand’s French roots and evokes the same excitement one gets walking through a labyrinth—without the anxiety of no escape. The path is lined with freestanding green walls composed of a fern backdrop with a garland of white blooms. “You’re seeing hydrangeas and queen anne’s lace,” explains Kwong. The elderflower is not in season and doesn’t grow here, but we wanted to hint and them and visualize the 1000-flowers concept.” In case you don’t know it takes 1000 delicate elderflower blooms to create each bottle of liqueur.
And that’s just the beginning. At the end of the maze, pass the colorful floral curtain (yes, it as Instagrammable as it sounds) and you enter a wide, sheltered area that is flanked by drink stations, lounge areas, and a photobooth featuring a flower wall backdrop. Look up and you’ll see thousands of colorful blooms hanging from ceiling grates, making you feel like you’re having your own Alice In Wonderland moment, questioning of the reality of it all.
Part of Kwong’s curatorial duties also included collaborating on the drinks menu and worked closely with St-Germain’s global ambassador Camille Ralph Vidal to create a signature drink. Like the installation itself, it is inspired by what else? A labyrinth. “The French maze is meant to disorient and delight,” says Kwong, “and in the same way, the flavor profiles takes a lot of twists and turns. You have these fresh lime notes and the lightness of the elderflower but then the punchiness of the tequila and the vermouth.”
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“To me, what’s most powerful about elderflowers is that they’re so ephemeral. They last for a couple weeks, so it’s this spectacular, fleeting moment that reminds you of the beauty and delicacy of nature,” says Kwong. And like the flower, the installation can only last so long—48 hours to be exact and after this evening, it will be dismantled. Of course though, it will get a second chance to shine, so you’ll still be able to enjoy the spirit of it if you are not able to visit the site tonight.
“We’re sending all the flowers to the UN on Friday,” says Kwong. “We partnered with Roots of Peace which is an organization founded by [philanthropist] Kyleigh Kuhn and we are donating all our flowers to this park across from the building where New Yorkers can take them in as they pass. It’s from Friday 1-3 p.m.
The UN is located at 405 E 42nd Street, NY, NY.