This holiday season, Opening Ceremony founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon were one of three fashion designers chosen to decorate the ground floor of the White House and they got my old pal, artist Mark Gagnon, to create the seven custom-made tree toppers. This year’s “Timeless Traditions” theme was supposed to showcase long-held customs across the country while highlighting major moments in American history. Carol and Humberto decorated the White House Library, which houses a collection of over 2,700 books and they got Mark to make seven tree-topping book covers. When I saw the pics, I had to find out some more details and got in touch with Mark to ask him some nosey questions.
Amazing opportunity, Mark. How did you get involved in this project?
Over the years working with David Hoey at Bergdorf Godman, I have become good friends with many of the creative people working there. Johanna Burke and I both continue to contribute to Bergdorfs. She has created her own business doing these kinds of visual endeavors. She knew Su Barber who works for Opening Ceremony and put Su in touch with me.
What kind of parameters were you given?
None really, I just had to work with the quotes given by the White house. I also was asked to look at Olympia Le tan as source for inspiration. They asked for a few of the books to be openly animated. Other than that is was free range and I took advantage of it.
So, what’s your favorite topper…
I actually personalized two of them. The piece with the birds is dedicated to my 95 yr old Aunt. She is a World War II veteran and recently fell and broke her shoulder. She signs every card and letter with this little doodle of a bird. I used her drawing as the image for the cover. The pink book has a silhouette of my mom on it. She has had a few bad health issues as well and I wanted to make her laugh by telling her her portrait is hanging in the White House!
Will you get them all back or do they go in some White House archive?
I think I am getting them back…
…hopefully with a letter from Michelle or Barack!
Would be sweet. Why don’t you contact your friend Michelle and suggest it!
OK. I’ll text her right now…
We were both teasing, but I DID meet the FLOTUS last year and my Facebook profile pic is us together, so my friends are FOREVER reminded of this fact. Check out more of Mark’s fantastic work here and if you’re in New York City, oooh and ahhh over Bergdorf Goodman‘s amazing windows. Chances are Mark has his hand in their creation too.