The Style Was Off The Charts At The NYBG Orchid Dinner, Honoring This Year’s Guest Designer Lily Kwong

by Freya Drohan

The only thing that could upstage a crowd of 400 of New York’s best dressed? The visionary work of 40 floral designers from across the country, who each created stunning table centerpieces for Thursday evening’s annual Orchid Dinner at The Plaza. The New York Botanical Garden’s beloved event, which highlights both the work of innovative talent in the industry and officially rings in The Orchid Show, also happened to be the most successful iteration yet—raising $800,000 on the night.

This year’s installment, The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage (which opened on February 18 and runs through April 23) was conceptualized and brought to life by Lily Kwong. Addressing the well-heeled room, Kwong spoke of what an honor it is to be the first woman of color to design the show, which is now in its 20th year.

Known for her landscape work which is at the intersection of wellness, art, and connection, Kwong looked to her own ancestral pathways, bloodlines, heritage, and family ties to Shanghai for inspiration—and she told The Daily that she hopes visitors are also encouraged to dig into their own backgrounds and family narratives upon their visit. Making it a full-circle moment, Kwong also happens to be a former student of the New York Botanical Garden’s Continuing Education program, where she sought to continue to develop her voice as an artist upon enrollment five years ago.

Lily Kwong

On the evening, the always-stylish Kwong was wearing a violet-hued dress with a painterly floral print by her cousin, the designer Joseph Altuzarra. When asked whether fashion also seeps into her work, she agreed that she’s endlessly inspired by Altuzarra and referenced a point early in her career when she lived with him and was motivated by his passion for creating.

Proceeds from the event support the Botanical Garden’s premier programs in horticulture, botanical research, and children’s education, which are central to preserving and protecting the plant world—particularly in the face of climate change.

Notable attendees included Kwong’s husband, the actor Nick Kroll, actress Pauline Chalamet, ballet dancers James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston, Markarian’s Ali O’Neil, artist Angelica Hicks, Edward Barsamian, Allie Michler Kopelman, Natalie and Dylana Suarez, Krystal Bick, Roze Traore, the “plantfluencer” Christopher Griffin aka The Plant Kween, Brandice
Daniel, Helena Glazer Hodne, DJ Timo Weiland, and world-renowned pianist Gina Alice who performed on the evening, among others. Generous support for the evening was extended by Guerlain, with guests taking home new samples of the Orchidee Imperiale range. Fitting!

Images: BFA 

The Orchid Dinner’s Gala Chairs were Maureen K. and Richard L. Chilton, Jr., J. Barclay Collins II and Kristina Durr, Ravenel Curry and Jane Moss, Gillian Hearst, Cecile Lochard, Holly and Todd Lowen, Susan and George Matelich, Tina and Steven R. Swartz, and Mr. and Mrs. Edward K. Weld. Junior Chairs were Sara Arno and Kevin Cornish, Lizzie Asher, Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Casey Kohlberg, Isabel Leeds, and Rebecca Vanyo. The designers and companies who donated their services to create the evening’s breathtaking tablescapes included, A-List Interiors, Kristen Alpaugh of FLWR PSTL, Ace Berry AIFD of Fulshear Floral Design, Brian Bowman and Dan Dahl of Bowman Dahl Floral & Event Design, Marcella Rodriguez Broe of The Parcel Flower Co., Ingrid Carozzi of Tin Can Studios, Calvert Crary of FlowerSchool NY & LA, Lily Dierkes of LK Studio, Jacqueline Elfe of Stellar Style Events, Keiko Ellis of Botanique K by Cloud, Zoe Feldman of Zoe Feldman Design, Molly Ford of Flowers by Ford, Chris Goddard of Goddard Design Group, Michael Gonzalez of Verde Custom Flowers Inc., John Goodman of JL Goodman Design, Malka Helft of Think Chic Interiors, Sarah Khan of Sarah Khan Event Styling, Aamir Khandwala Interior Design and Nicolas Cogrel, Canaan Marshall of Canaan Marshall Design, TJ McGrath of TJ McGrath Designs, Lewis Miller Design, Michelle Murphy of Demi Ryan, David Netto Design, Susie Novak of Susie Novak Designs, Kelsea Olivia of East Olivia, Beth O’Reilly AIFD of Dutchess Bouquets, Hilary Pereira and JSA Stud NYC, LaParis Phillips of Brooklyn Blooms, Hollis Loudon Puig of Hollis Loudon Interiors, Romanek Design Studio, Olivia Rose of Original Rose, Rudy Saunders of Dorothy Draper & Co., Mally Skok of Mally Skok Designs, Studio Lily Kwong, Gerald Tolomeo of Gerald Tolomeo LTD, Robert Ventolo of Crain and Ventolo, and Joy Williams of Joyful Designs® Studio.

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