Guests to Phillip Lim’s tenth-anniversary show on Monday were greeted by a series of gigantic earth mounds when they entered the cavernous space of Pier 94 jutting out into the Hudson. It was an arresting vision, an appropriate introduction to a show whose seed-planted invitations urged us to “stop and smell the flowers,” and had exactly the effect Lim and the artist behind the installation, Maya Lin, were going for. “What we did today was something huge, and I think that we kind of caused everyone to stop and smell the flowers today,” the designer said after the show. “So we did it.”

For the pair, who met at an event at the Museum of Chinese in America four years ago, it was also a chance to collaborate in a “spontaneous” way. “He came over to the studio and said, ‘Well the theme is “Stop and smell the flowers,”’ and I thought, ‘Well I really work with earth, what if we go back to the roots of where flowers begin,’ and Phillip loved it,” recalled Lin, who is famous for her earth art and her strikingly powerful Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. “Because I’m such a committed environmentalist, my dream with this was to really get the message out about converting our agricultural practices to toxin-free and organic.”


To that end, the soil—all two hundred and fifty tons of it—was made, effectively, in house, composted for nearly a year at a lot in New Jersey. It took nearly three days (one imagines the dirt-filled trucks pulling up as the last partygoers stumbled out of Alexander Wang’s epic tenth-anniversary bash in the same space on Saturday) to load in, and, with the presentation of Lim’s gorgeous and serene natural-toned collection complete, will all be distributed to local community gardens.

For Lim, it was an appropriately forward-thinking way to celebrate his first decade in business, and also a way to look hopefully towards the future, when the seeds embedded in his invitations might be fully grown. “I literally feel like a ten-year-old and I feel like a hundred-year-old,” he said with relief, “and somewhere in between I just feel so happy.” And with that, he and Lin zipped up their white Tyvek coveralls and, along with the rest of Lim’s team, prepared to dive into the dirt.


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