The Serpentine Summer Party with Bjarke Ingels
London’s equivalent of New York’s glamorous Met Gala is the annual Serpentine Summer Party hosted by one of London’s most beloved institutions, the Serpentine Gallery. Similar to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which borders New York City’s Central Park, the Serpentine lays elegantly in the midst of Hyde Park. The two buildings, Serpentine and Serpentine Sackler, are only a short walk from each other situated on either side of the Serpentine lake. The galleries host a variety of art exhibitions overseen by mega-curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones. Currently on view are exhibitions by the American painter Alex Katz and the Lebanese-born essayist, poet, and painter Etel Adnan.
The Serpentine successfully bridges art and architecture, as well as fashion. The Serpentine Sackler features an extension built by the legendary Zaha Hadid, and since 2000 the gallery commissions a leading architect to design a new pavilion every summer. The Dane Bjarke Ingels built this year’s impressive 14-meter-high structure which consists of a myriad of hollow fibreglass boxes that are stacked up, one atop the other. New this year are four additional and smaller pavilions or Summer Houses which were inspired by Queen Caroline’s Temple, a classic building in the adjacent Kensington Gardens, and are meant to complement the main pavilion. Despite being physically accessible, the summer pavilions are considered as individual art works. Hauser & Wirth acquired the Serpentine’s 2014 summer pavilion which was executed by the Chilean architect Smiljan Radić and installed it on the ground’s of their country space in Bruton, Somerset.
Every year, the Serpentine Summer Party is co-hosted by another fashion designer, as well as former NYC major Michael R. Bloomberg and a group of artists and supporters oft the arts. The 2016 edition was co-hosted by Tommy Hilfiger and numerous guests such as models Naomi Campbell, Georgia May Jagger, Cressida Bonas, and Toni Garrn were clad in the American designer’s newest creations. The glamorous crowd was a melting pot of leading figures from the art, design, fashion, music, film, and business worlds. Despite Brexit turmoil, the energy was good, was supported by a few sunny days, after weeks of rain. Caribbean sounds by Calypso Rose, the grand dame of Calypso, whose latest album was produced by Manu Chao, was the soundtrack for the evening.
Artists such as Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn, Richard Wentworth, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Howard Hodgkin, and Ryan Gander mingled with designers Emilia Wickstead, Erdem, Julian McDonald, and Peter Pilotto. Film director Baz Luhrman, actress Sienna Miller, musicians Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora, as well as oldies but goldies Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey drank Laurent-Perrier champagne and nibbled mini rock shrimp burgers, teriyaki salmon and mini Cornettos until the crowd slowly dissolved around midnight. The dancing continued at the official after party which was held at London’s old school nightclub Mahiki, somewhat retro, as well as posh members club 5 Hertford Street and André Balazs’ Chiltern Firehouse.