For its October installation in Paris, Maison St. Germain has turned to Lola Burstein-Rykiel.
As creative director for the upcoming project, she is culling ideas from her hometown to imagine a multiscale experience for the elderflower liqueur. Still in the early stages of developing the art installation, Burstein-Rykiel said “an abundance of flowers and sensuality creates this ephemeral joy” that she can connect with. Another starting point is Loie Fuller’s Serpentine dance, a lasting image of the Art Nouveau Movement first performed in Paris at the Folies Bergère in 1892.
As a former student at Martha Graham’s Dance School, Burstein-Rykiel reviewed old videos of Fuller dancing the Serpentine. “Loie was just so beautiful. She transformed herself from a flower to a butterfly to a woman just by her doing it herself with her costumes and the lighting. That’s what was so interesting. It was not just the choreography. The costume, the lighting and the movement is as important as the rest. It was like a surreal art performance before her time,” Burstein-Rykiel said. “She pushed the limits back in choosing to do everything by herself. When I was looking at her dance, I was like ‘Whoa, this looks a bit like an orchid or an elderflower, or a peony — a flower that is blooming and is coming back.’ I thought it would be the perfect place for me to start this project.”
She will reimagine a yet-to-be-disclosed location in the heart of Saint-Germain des Prés, by relaying what she hopes will be “an at-home, warm feeling.” She is familiar with iconic subway and side streets of Paris, as well as its fashion heritage. Her maternal grandmother was the late designer Sonia Rykiel. After handling U.S. public relations for Sonia Rykiel, Burstein-Rykiel started her own branding company Le Chocolat Noir. Bursting also learned the ins and outs of fashion, by spending time in London with her paternal grandmother, Joan Burstein, the founder of Browns department store. “France is full of clues and inspiration,” she said.
Maison St. Germain’s “very particular identity” will also be considered, including its distillery practice of using 1,000 elderflowers for one bottle of alcohol. “It’s a really special process so they really have to hurry up. There’s not only the beauty of the flowers, but there is this sense of ephemerality, of trying to rush to seize the present moment in order to get the most out of it,” Burstein-Rykiel said.
Last month she checked out Kate Young’s installation for Maison St. Germain that was inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s second novel, “The Beautiful and the Damned.” Elderflower is somewhat of an omnipresent culinary and cocktail trend this summer, sparked partially by publicity of Prince Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s lemon elderflower wedding cake.
As a college student living in Paris, Burstein-Rykiel worked weekends in a flower shop, so she brings an intrinsic know-how to the Maison St. Germain project. “I love the smell of the flowers.…My mother, and my grandmother both love flowers. Ever since I was a little girl, my mother and I were very obsessed with flowers. We cannot have the same type.”