“It’s been a really nice break to look at flowers and furniture and set design, rather than staring at my Vogue.com app all day long,” says Kate Young, the in-demand celebrity stylist with a client roster that reads like a best dressed list at the Academy Awards: Natalie Portman, Margot Robbie, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz, to name a few.
Young’s latest project finds her transcending wardrobe to create style on a grander scale. She’s partnered with Maison St-Germain, maker of the elderflower liqueur, to create an experiential installation in the Gardens of the Battery in downtown New York. Following an invite-only party that was held Thursday evening, the event is open to the public today for a fundraiser from 7 to 11 pm to benefit The Battery Conservancy; from there the concept moves to Los Angeles for a July 10 VIP event at Little Beach House Malibu.
St-Germain is a subtly sweet liqueur crafted of elderflowers harvested in the French Alps during the brief period when they reach full bloom each spring. Young says she was already a fan when the Bacardi-owned brand approached her. “They have it in the hotel bar at Chateau Marmont, where my work takes me quite a bit, and we always mix it with Champagne,” she explains. “When they asked me, I thought, OK, I already drink that. I love it, it feels real.”
For anyone with wanderlust, Young’s deep dive into the history and logistics of creating St-Germain will sound pretty dreamy. “I went over there and we walked through the gardens, talking about how the flowers bloom for such a short time, and how they’re collected quickly by hand at the moment they’re determined to be at their peak,” she remembers. “I also love the elegant design of the bottle, and how each bottle is numbered because the harvest each year is so limited. The whole idea for me seemed super romantic, and from there a 1920s Parisian influence began to take hold.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby started swirling around in Young’s mind, most notably the Dali-esque surrealism one might encounter at a party during that period. “These elderflowers are available for such a brief time, so I really loved the idea of living it up at a party for just one night,” she says. A series of vignettes, including tarot-card readers and tattoo artists, have been planned to lead guests through the event, while she’s enlisted floral designer Brittany Asch of BRRCH to embellish the perennial-filled Battery Garden with additional blossoms, most notably a field of 1,000 elderflowers. Actors dressed in Gatsby-esque costumes also have been planned to populate the event, with their look inspired by the work of British fashion photographer Tim Walker. “I shoot a lot with him for Dior, and I’m really inspired by his wonderlands,” Young adds.
Of course, an event inspired by a liqueur also requires a signature drink. With that in mind, Young partnered with St-Germain to create the Gloria; its name is taken from the female protagonist in Fitzgerald’s 1922 novel, The Beautiful and Damned. If you can’t attend the party in New York or L.A., here’s the recipe:
½ oz. St-Germain elderflower liqueur
¼ oz. Suze liqueur
Top with cold, dry Champagne
Add a spray of an essential-oil blend of St-Germain and Frankincense (the latter is available at health-food and wellness stores)
Serve in a coupette and garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel and a sprinkling of gold dust.
Ultimately Young isn’t sure how creating this event might inform her future fashion work, but she is quick to admit she’d love to do it again. “It’s been really fun because it’s not what I’m used to,” Young says. “I’ve been spending my days planning this beautiful party and tasting cocktails, with none of the stress of, ‘Why can’t I have Look 56?’ I’ve loved every second.”
Tickets are still available at $150 per person for “Maison-St. German Celebrates the Battery Conservancy” on Friday, June 22, from 7 to 11 p.m. Visit EventBrite for tickets or more information.