During Fashion Week in New York, the American Heart Association (AHA) decided to heighten awareness of heart disease and inspire women to take action to reduce their risk of the disease by hosting “Rhapsody in Red: Celebrating How Women Go Red” in the New York Public Library. Unlimited Visibility Lighting Design (UVLD) supported event designer Matthew David Events for the gala, located in close proximity to the Bryant Park fashion tents, with innovative, onsite lighting design by Emmy Award-winner John Ingram who employed a diverse array of 180 lighting fixtures.

UVLD’s brief was to match the red-themed party to the AHA’s three-year old Go Red for Women campaign. “Matthew (David of Matthew David Events) always has a vision for an event, and once he has an idea we all stick to it. Too often special events dissolve into a design free-for-all in which we just end up flashing lights frenetically for lack of more clear direction,” says UVLD lighting designer Greg Cohen. “With Matthew everything has a through line, a consistent feel that makes everyone walk away proud.”

With this project, the team was faced with a clear vision even form the name of the event itself: Go Red. “Matthew and his team made clear from the start that everything must appear red,” Cohen adds, “but he also discussed appropriate ways to offset the red hues with slightly contrasting colors, such as rich pinks and magentas. By having the slightly different values of warm colors in the room, the red itself was all the more prominent.”

According to Cohen, several challenges issued from the venue itself. Work hours were restricted to the hours the library was open to the public. “The first day everyone had to stop at 5:00 pm because the library closed,” Cohen notes.

The event began at the library’s entrance where a model in an elaborate red organza gown was perched 30’ in the air, her long skirt falling over the entryway like a canopy as she showered the guests with rose petals. “We took what could be regarded as a traditional, theatrical approach. The dress itself was lit with [ETC] Source Four ellipsoidals. We used Coemar exterior fixtures to uplight the building itself. The texture of the theatrical fixtures gave the dress a rich dapple, while the bright moving lights were able to give us a true red on the building,” continues Cohen.

Inside, guests were seated at tables under a red flower- and fabric-covered dome, which served as the focal point for dinner and the evening’s performances on the in-the-round. The exterior of the room was treated with Color Kinetics ColorBlast® 12 fixtures; the talent was lit with Vari-Lite fixtures. “While we don’t often use moving lights to key artists, preferring the hues of a tungsten fixture, it worked great here. The slightly blue hue of the moving lights was a nice contrast to all the warm reds,” adds John Ingram. "We approached UVLD on this job because we knew the client had high expectations, and we knew they'd be able to deliver. When Matthew and our team designs and realizes the visions of our clients, we're always confident that UVLD can carry it through without getting bogged down in technology, adding a unique design layer while respecting our budget. Parallel to our design philosophy, they treat each job with a fresh approach, based on what's right for that job and top level design and execution," comments Jennifer Kurland Madover, partner and business development director.

The entire package, provided by Scharff Weisberg Lighting, comprised a total of 180 lighting instruments. They included two ETC Source Four 19-degree, eight 26-degree, four 36-degree and eight 50-degree 750W ellipsoidals and 24 36-degree 575W ellipsoidals ; 30 200W Source Four PAR 46 MFLs; 45 Color Kinetics ColorBlast 12s; 10 1K Bambino; one 1200W DF50 hazer; and 24 Vari-Lite VL500 and 24 VL2500 washes.

Jeff Nellis served as UVLD’s associate lighting designer for all the outdoor lighting; Steve Leif was head electrician with Danny Kirsch and Sal Restuccia assisting.