Johnson Hartig’s Royal Poinciana Square Tree, a “Fashion Celebration”


Johnson Hartig hopes his vibrant designs displayed on the surfboard holiday tree at the Royal Poinciana Plaza will remind people of “Lib it up” this holiday season.

Hundreds of people attended the holiday reveal and tree-lighting event with libertine designer Johnson Hartig on Thursday at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.

The designer and founder of Libertine, a Los Angeles-based fashion brand, showcased his unique style on Thursday night with the unveiling of the plaza’s 30-foot surfboard installation.

Showcasing “all the things we hold dear and dear to us” that “would resonate in Palm Beach,” Hartig said, its design combines realism and whimsy.

Swinger designer Johnson Hartig chats with visitors to Kirna Zabete on Thursday at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.

The holiday tree, which will be on display until January 2, features 50 surfboards, each featuring colors, patterns, prints and embellishments he uses in his designs.

Libertine designer Johnson Hartig presents his collection at Kirna Zabete at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.

During the reveal event, guests wearing original Libertine creations – patchwork dresses, skulls screen-printed on vintage jackets, and celestial crystal blazers – admired the tree; cookies decorated in the shape of a surfboard with their children; and posed with Santa, who was wearing a shirt with the message #LIBITUP on it. “Lib it up” means expressing one’s individual style through colors and prints, representatives said.

Hartig’s designs are distinguished by embellishments, graphics, screen prints and crystal designs inspired by his interest in history, travel, culture and fluorescence microscopy, according to his website.

A close up view of some of the surfboards on the holiday tree.

On the boards was Hamish Floral, a lavender print inspired by florist Hamish Powell, as well as the Robert Burns print, but rather than a poem by its namesake, the painting read “Palm Beach Love.” The surfboards also featured Libertine collages featuring Flower, Hartig’s rescue dog, and “classic” Palm Beach colors – turquoise, pink and green.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, the avant-garde, urban sensation Libertine has garnered support from fashion icons Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld and Hamish Bowles.

According to its website, the California fashion brand’s customer base includes Mick Jagger, Cher, Future, 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Usher, Britney Spears and Taylor Swift, as well as Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bette Midler and Catherine Deneuve.

Hartig is credited with “rewriting the rules” of ready-to-wear fashion after partnering with British artist Damien Hirst and well-known brands such as Converse and Target for his GO International line in 2007, according to his website.

Models wear Libertine fashion at the Holiday Reveal Event and Tree Lighting event with designer Libertine Johnson Hartig on Thursday at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.
Models wear Libertine fashion during the Holiday Reveal Event and Tree Lighting event with designer Libertine Johnson Hartig at the Royal Poinciana Plaza on December 2, 2021 in Palm Beach.

For the first time in the history of the annual tradition, the tree was designed by someone from the fashion industry.

Dana Filetti, marketing director of the esplanade, and Lori Berg, its manager, led the team that chose the designer of the tree. Picking someone from the fashion industry this year “felt good” and Hartig’s colorful, chaotic and cool designs made him the top contender, Filetti said.

“Everyone has been wearing work-from-home clothes for the past 18 months,” Filetti said. “Johnson is super cool and blends the lines between art, interior design and fashion.”

By turning to more casual clothing during the pandemic, his business flourished, Hartig said.

“Remarkably, we’ve had incredible deals throughout the pandemic, and it’s been even stronger after that,” he said. “I think it’s because our clothes always promote a feeling of optimism and joy.”

Hartig’s designs go beyond clothing. He said he thinks that incorporating vibrancy into home decorations gives off the same joyful feelings that one can get with clothes.

“There isn’t a square inch in my house that hasn’t been decorated in some way,” he said.

“For me, it’s completely heartwarming. I like to come home and feel comforted. I think it shows a really curious and cultured mind – having things you love around you rather than white and white walls. “

Berg said surfboard trees weren’t meant to become a tradition when they were first installed in 2017, but they have drawn the attention and admiration of residents and visitors alike. This first tree was created by the staff of the plaza.

Last year, the plaza tree was designed by New Orleans artist Ashley Longshore, who used jewelry and gemstone artwork to make the city shine.

Fine art photographer and author known for his aerial beach photographs, Gray Malin used images he captured of Palm Beach, Saint-Tropez, the Hamptons and other seaside communities for the design of the tree in 2019.

During the 2018 holiday season, illustrator and pop artist Donald Robertson’s tree adaptation featured brightly painted lips.

Hartig’s surfboard tree design represents people’s desire to dress and go out again, Berg said, and celebrates Palm Beach fashion.

“Asking a fashion designer to do it, for me was a ‘woohoo! “Moment,” she said. “Artists are amazing too, but (Palm Beach) is fashion. We have fashion!

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