October 5, 2022

As far as philanthropic partnerships go, Guerlain and The New York Botanical Garden are a pretty perfect match. New Yorkers who know the NYBG mark their calendars for its annual Orchid Show—a showcase of some dazzling blooms each winter. And beauty-lovers with a taste for the finer things know the wonders of Guerlain’s Orchidée Impériale—a collection of skincare products that harness the natural benefits of the orchid flower. So who better than Guerlain, really, to help put on a benefit dinner for the NYBG’s The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope, which opens on February 26, 2022 after an abbreviate run two years ago at the start of the pandemic. 

Thursday night at the gilded second-floor ballroom at The Plaza (whose onsite spa is helmed by Guerlain), party-goers were in for a floral-filled evening. The event raised funds for the NYBG, and those who had already purchased a ticket had the opportunity to double down on their efforts and buy an orchid flower (showcased at the party) sourced from the famous Bronx gardens. 

As Jennifer Bernstein, CEO and The William C. Steere Sr. President of The NYBG, told the well-dressed guests of the evening, “The New York Botanical garden has maintained a collection of orchids from around the world since the late 19th century. In fact, our oldest living orchid entered the collection in 1902, and today, our orchid collection is one of the world’s largest of any botanical garden and is an invaluable resource for scientists looking to understand the mysteries of orchids, which are among the most unusual, diverse, and endangered in the world.”

The night began with a cocktail hour by a row of orchids—fuschia, magenta, milky white some with tulip-like riffled edges. As more guests poured in, more “SOLD” markers festooned the flower pots. Everyone then made their way into the ballroom, where each table served as a magical, orchid-filled showcase. Part of the tradition of the Orchid Dinner is to call upon interior designers and creative to transform their gala tables into floriated works of art. Grace Fuller Marroquin of Grace Fuller Design, Jérôme LaMaar, Julie Kantrowitz, and more each dressed their tables like tiny orchid-filled oases. One table featured a trellis and a water fountain; another was shaded with a parasol dotted with orchids; LaMaar’s was downright mystical with glittery buddhas, rock crystals, tarot cards, and symbols of astrology. “Everywhere you look, there’s something to take in,” explained the designer. 

At most events, only lost guests searching for their names on a place circle each table; at the Orchid Dinner, it’s just part of the tradition. “Whichever table you like best is mine,” joked Wes Gordon. Though he didn’t actually contribute to the design of any of the tables, he was responsible for a few Carolina Herrera looks in the room. On the guest list was Leigh Lezark, Paul Arnhold, Gillian Hearst, Fernando Garcia, Laura Kim, Alexandra Michler Kopelman, and Mollie Acquavella. 

Though the event was an orchid show in and of itself, the real thing opens today. For every 100 tickets sold, Guerlain will plant up to “2,000 orchids in their natural habitat in the Tianzi Exploratory Reserve in Yunnan Province, China,” says the beauty brand. It’s a pledge that will assist in the overall biodiversity of the area, but on a lighter note, it’s a beautiful thing. As the evening proved, there’s really no such thing as too many flowers, is there?