SECRET GARDEN: On Thursday afternoon, Lily Kwong was proudly admiring the “living” plant wall at Maiyet’s SoHo boutique — a seven-by-12-foot vertical installation she helped execute last month — which features 10 plant species artfully arranged to create a lush landscape in the store, already home to several tropical plants.
The plants used in the installation were recycled; they’d formerly been living outdoors in Brooklyn. “We installed an irrigation system that runs horizontally, so every single tray is getting irrigation,” Kwong explained. “That pipe — from the store’s bathroom — is bringing water to the plant wall. All of these plants had been living outdoors in Brooklyn for the past four or five months, so they’re adjusting to living inside….It was great because there are no trees on this street. It’s such an iconic street for SoHo, and I love that we can be this little ecosystem in here.”
Kwong, a longtime supporter of Maiyet — who’s also a model and a cousin to designer Joseph Altuzarra — studied sociology and urban studies at Columbia University before delving into the intersection of landscape design and fashion. In the past, she collaborated with eco-friendly brand Amour Vert on a similar project.
Last year, Kwong accompanied Maiyet’s design team to Thailand, where the brand was looking to expand its sourcing.
“We went to check out the sourcing and the amazing artisans [who] work on the collection,” she said, explaining how the partnership came about. “Then, we went to The Land Foundation, and it probably made a really big impact on me. From there, I started doing my own large-scale installations, from Brooklyn to Miami. I fell in love with plants…that’s what I gravitated towards the most. I love sustainable fashion. That’s how I plug into the fashion industry — with brands that have a mission, and are using product and story to elevate everyone along the supply chain and make the world a greener place.”
Last week, Kwong unveiled a six-piece capsule collection for Maiyet, which incorporates leafy botanical prints inspired by the store’s new installation. “We lifted the plants from the [wall] and created prints with artisans in India, who used this amazing block-printing technique. They hand-carve every block and layered them on top of each other,” she said.
The collection offers an “arc” printed silk slipdress — a Maiyet signature, priced at $795 — as well as a tie-waist dress trimmed with black accents that can also be worn as a jacket. Other items include a turtleneck sweater, a scarf and a cross-back sleeveless top.
The capsule also launches the brand’s first-ever venture into denim — offering vintage jeans that were sourced across the U.S. — decorated with colorful block prints. “It’s celebrating sustainability in a way that Maiyet hasn’t done before,” Kwong said.