David Monn is responsible for designing some of the city’s most elaborate and elite soirées, but don’t be fooled: He is so much more than just an event planner.
By Nicole Kotovos | Photography by Brian Dorsey
He is known for his meticulous attention to detail, a trait he admits might be a fault at times.
For David Monn, it all began in a small town in Pennsylvania in his childhood home’s backyard, where he spent countless hours imagining majestic fantasies as a mechanism to escape a destitute life. Monn soon realized that the ability to visualize such vivid dreamscapes represented a talent: “I bring or take the things that I fantasize about and turn them into reality, and then people get to experience them. It is a real gift.” This gift of fantasizing grandiose and magical scenarios represents the blueprints for his events, which are masterpieces that have taken New York’s elite inner social circles by storm.
Monn is renowned as the “architect of style”. He is the president of David E. Monn, LLC, an event architecture firm that caters to worldwide clients such as LVMH, Guggenheim Museum, and the New York Public Library, to name just a few. If you have been lucky enough to grace the guest list at A-list parties and major social events like the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Gala or the Opening Night of the Metropolitan Opera, then you have experienced his magic.
Monn took the time from his busy schedule to speak with us about what all goes into creating his lavish events. First and foremost, Monn demands total control. “Primarily, the only way I think it can be done is that we do every single aspect of the party… I want full control. This is not an ego thing. The best analogy that I can give is that when a rough diamond is cut, every single facet is put together with the eye of the cutter… no diamond is cut by two people.”
This is the ideal way to describe events done by Monn, virtual masterpieces sculpted out of the rough. Monn and his team have the amazing abilities to transform mundane and familiar venues into magical wonderlands sculpted to convey the host’s vision. He states his favorite locale as the New York Public Library (“There is none greater!”) and the Ukranian Institute, a funky place, perfect for a small, private party. But the goal, no matter where the location, is the same: “I want my clients to feel like hosts with the ease of being a guest,” says Monn.
Monn is mostly known for his unforgettable creation of the Metropolitan Museum’s annual Costume Institute Ball in Manhattan, hosted by Vogue’s Anna Wintour. It is the most excessive, micromanaged, luxurious, and fabulous social party of the season, considered by many as the Oscars of the East Coast. “With total modesty, I’d say that this is the most important social and fashion party of the year,” said Andre Leon Talley, Vogue’s editor-at-large. The Met’s annual Costume Ball has been designed by Monn for the past few years; many have had the opportunity to witness his imagination and incredible eye for detail. Every last point was scrutinized until a perfect evening occurred. Such mesmerizing evenings are based on simple yet ethereal décor. “To make something look simple actually takes more effort than it does to make something look over the top,” states Monn, proving that simple creations require hard work and grueling time.
Monn’s success has acquired him an ample list of high profile private and corporate clients. He is known for his meticulous attention to detail, a trait he admits might be a fault at times. None of his events have ever seemed perfect to him, even though his satisfied clients would beg to differ. But what makes Monn so wonderful is his sense of modesty; he is indefinitely grateful for his talent and the ability to do what he loves. “I feel like I am truly one of the luckiest people,” he explains, “which is a very big responsibility in life, because what comes along with it is the need to give back, because this truly is a gift that not everyone shares.”