The Return of the Nightcap

Going so soon? I wouldn’t hear of it. Why, my little party’s just beginning.

“In Spain, it’s called ‘la ultima,’ and it’s for when you don’t want to let go of the night,” says Maria Trabocchi, co-owner, with husband, Fabio, of celebrated Washington, D.C. restaurants, Fiola, Casa Luca and Fiola Mare. “It is a way of extending the evening before you get back into your Uber or taxi and immerse yourself in looking at your phone.”

Arnaud Dissais of Daniel in New York

Arnaud Dissais, head bartender at Daniel, agrees, “Everyone is always working so hard all the time. To enjoy a nice meal and afterwards go to a place for a drink is an important moment. It gives you an excuse to change the environment and get into another conversation.”

We’re talking, of course, about the nightcap, that most seductive of moments when the crowd departs and it is just you and a close friend or two setting the world to rights. It’s back and in a big way.

Once upon a time, this little evening delight was strictly reserved for chic hotel bars and groovy Mad Men-era pieds-a-terre, but lately it feels more accessible: fresh and cool rather than just retro chic.

We asked Jeremy Buck, who bartends at the aptly named and recently opened Nitecap, a Lower East Side cocktail bar with the requisite seductive low lighting and squeeze-in red banquettes, if it’s another case of everything old being new again. “It never really went away,” he said.” It’s just that there’s more of a focus on it now.”

Gentleman's Table Guide

Jeremy Buck sent along this fabulous photo from The Gentleman’s Table Guide by E. Ricket and C. Thomas for historical reference.

Trabocchi and Dissais say that they often see diners from earlier in the evening return to their restaurants for the last drink. And Buck compares the bar Nitecap to a friend’s basement. The venue is less important than the vibe. “It’s a matter of striking the right balance between having some energy and being relaxing. No one wants it to be too stuffy,” he says.


 Nitecap captures the intimacy of the chic-all-over-again nightcap 

In fact, the at-home nightcap can be the most intimate of all. It doesn’t matter what you’ve got stocked in the bar. From a classic B&B to a Mexican beer with a shot of whiskey. Whatever your poison, darlin’, the contents of the glass are secondary to what’s all around it: the music, the conversation, the lighting. In fact, that goes double for lighting.


Amanda McCrossin of Rotisserie Georgette

“Everyone needs a real life Instagram filter,” says Amanda McCrossin, sommelier at Rotisserie Georgette and host of the web series UnWined with Amanda, who likes to end her night with a moody drink, like Amaro, in a moody room. “Dark lighting, with a flicker of candlelight is the perfect way to achieve that slightly haphazard ambience that proclaims, ‘I don’t know why I’m still here, but I’m surely not leaving before last call.’”

Santé, doll we’ll be right there with you. Read on for our three favorite fall nightcaps and a playlist that will ensure your soirée ends on the perfect note.

The Salonniere’s Favorite Nightcaps for Fall



1 ounce of your favorite brandy
1 ounce Benedictine

Pour the liquors into a brandy snifter and stir. Twist a lemon peel over the drink to release its oils then discard the peel.

Brandy Alexander

The Brandy Alexander

2 ounces cognac or other fine aged brandy
1 ounce dark crème de cacao
1 ounce cream

Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

The Night Cap

The Night Cap

2 ounces white rum
4 ounces warm milk
1 dash cinnamon
1 teaspoon of sugar

Mix the rum, milk and sugar in a mug. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.


Billie Holiday

The Salonniere’s Nightcap Playlist

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning – Frank Sinatra
Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye – Lady Gaga
Cognac Blues – Dizzy Gillespie
It’s a Pity to Say Goodnight – Ella Fitzgerald
Night Cap – Charlie Parker
One for My Baby – Billie Holiday (photo above)
Au Revoir – One Republic
Straight, No Chaser – Thelonious Monk
Closing Time – Tom Waits
I’ll Be Seeing You – Tony Bennett

Introductory photo: Conrad Veidt and Vivien Leigh in Dark Journey, 1937
Introductory quote: The Wizard of Oz, 1939

Photo credits: Daniel, Jeremu Buck, Nitecap, Amanda McCrossin, The Hawthorne, Getty

Not ready for the party to end, doll? Join us for a nightcap on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Sally Award: Elizabeth Banks


Mornin’, sugar. What a week of parties and fabulously-frocked party hoppers. But this week’s soirée standout – and the winner of the Sally Award for best party look of the week – goes to actress Elizabeth Banks in a chic and ladylike Bottega Veneta dress at the Hammer Museum’s Gala in the Garden in Los Angeles.  Part of Bottega Veneta’s Fall/Winter 2014/15 collection, this gorgeous knotted crepe dress in green – which Elizabeth paired with Bottega Veneta suede pumps – gave a gracious nod to the event’s garden theme and its primary sponsor. Thoughtful, doll.


A finger-combed up-do by Christian Wood and soft and pretty make up by Georgie Eisdell – with perfect eyebrows, we might add – further define Elizabeth’s effortlessly chic and ladylike party look. Pitch Perfect, doll.

The tables at the Gala in the Garden 2014
Gala in the Garden 2014

Photos: Getty Images and Hammer Museum

RSVP: Danielle Rollins

Danielle Rollins

Hey there, sugar. You’re just in time to meet our glamorous and gracious gal pal, Danielle Rollins. Let me tell you, doll, this Dallas-born and Atlanta-based beauty epitomizes Southern hospitality. Her chic and thoughtful style of entertaining – this lady thinks of everything! – has even landed her a spot as the best-selling author of Soirée: Entertaining with Style, a must-have tome full splendid party pictures, including a dinner she hosted for Oscar de la Renta that launched her career. We can see why, darlin’. Anyway, when Danielle isn’t hobnobbing with designers like Mr. de la Renta and Lela Rose, who you met before at one of our parties, she’s serving as a contributing editor to Veranda. We were just about to pour Danielle a bit of bourbon so, come on in, y’all, and grab a glass and a seat. Let’s listen to the divine Danielle dish.

Your entertaining style?
Thoughtful, appropriate, relaxed and well planned

The definition of a good host?
One who is thoughtful and places a guest’s needs and comfort first and foremost

10402792_964650013560860_677437740483083951_nDanielle with celebrity chef, author and entrepreneur, Alex Hitz

Last party you hosted?
A cozy intimate birthday dinner for chef, Alex Hitz

Last party you attended?
Designer Lela Rose’s Tea & Tequila party to celebrate her new entertaining tome – it was held on Celerie Kemble’s gorgeous Central Park South rooftop terrace

Most memorable party you attended?
A good friend’s surprise 50th birthday party at Villa Ephrussi in Saint-Jean-Cap- Ferrat, France, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea

Most fascinating person you met at a party?
Henry Kissinger


After Danielle’s dinner party for Oscar de la Renta, he encouraged her to write a book

Party you’re most proud of?
The Oscar de la Renta dinner featured in my book because it was that dinner that launched my career

Party you’d like to go back in time to attend?
Elsie de Wolfe’s circus-themed party at Villa Trianon – I just know we would have been BFFs

How do you stay party ready? What’s always in your fridge and pantry?
Champagne, wine, good cheese, great bread, pastas, cream, butter, milk and bacon

Best tip for getting your house party ready?
Walk through your house as though you’re a guest experiencing the party from the time of arrival to departure. Then think like a server. That’s the best way you can tell what you need from both perspectives. For instance, is the bathroom clean and inviting with plenty of hand towels and fresh soap? Are extra supplies easily found? Will the server be able to walk between the tables and serve properly? Playing out all the possible scenarios is the best way to prevent a disaster.


Flowers by Danielle Rollins

Least expensive but most effective way to create an instant party ambiance?
Flowers! Using something seasonal and inexpensive but in abundance fluffs things up nicely.

Best way to make shy guests feel more comfortable?
Compliment them, genuinely, or ask them about themselves. That works for everyone!

Favorite hostess gift to give?
Flowers sent to arrive before the party, cocktail mixers and hard-to-find liquors with personally created recipes, and interesting olive oils, vinegars, honeys, spices or baking mixes.

Most memorable hostess gift given to you?
Personalized cocktail napkins embroidered with a cornucopia that were given to me by a friend visiting for Thanksgiving

Most treasured thank you note?
A handwritten note from Oscar de la Renta

Danielle Rollins

Let’s play favorites, doll…

Color: The turquoise of my book

Flower: Peonies

Cocktail: An Old Fashioned – I’m a bourbon girl!

 Champagne: Veuve Clicquot Rosé

Food: Caviar, crème fraiche and blinis, Dover sole and champagne


Sharyn Blond linens

Linens: That’s a tough one! Some people buy lipstick when they’re down. I buy linens! My favorite brands are Leontine, Julia B., Walker Valentine, Matouk, Porthault and Sharyn Blond.

Dishes: I haven’t met a piece of china I didn’t like but my favorites are Mottahedeh, Alberto Pinto and vintage pieces.

Glassware: William Yeoward, Dior and, for casual pieces, World Market


The Rooster motif from The Printery in Oyster Bay, New York

Party resources: World Market, Jamali, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Mark & Graham, Matouk, Ralph Lauren Home, Cut Flowers Wholesale, The Printery and Ginna Dunlap Emmet Calligraphy

Party shoe: Gianavito Rossi and Christian Louboutin

Party dress: Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Lela Rose, Vito Emanuele or something vintage

Three party pet-peeves?
Bad manners, bad moods and bad attire

Three party must-haves?
Good food, music that fits the mood and a good attitude!

There’s certainly nothing old-fashioned about that, doll. Now, where were we? Oh, yes. Danielle was showing us photos of some of her fabulous parties…

Photos: Danielle Rollins, Sharyn Blond, The Printery

Jeanne Quinault


Portrait of Jeanne Quinault by Eugène Louis Pirodon 

Hi doll, come on in. We’re raising a glass in remembrance of a great dame who was born on this day back in 1699. Her name was Jeanne Quinault and she was a heckuva scribe and actress who advised Voltaire and Pierre-Claude Nivelle de la Chaussée on writing some of their hit plays. She also hosted a marvelous creative salon in Paris. She was something, darlin’. Let me tell you more about her.


The Comédie-Française

Born into a famous French acting family, Jeanne made her acting debut at the age of eighteen at the Comédie-Française, the only state theater in France to have its own troupe of actors. In December of 1718, shortly after her first bow, she was formally accepted into the company, becoming the sixth member of the Quinault family to be admitted.

Our coy Jeanne become known as quite the saucy soubrette. She befriended many of the most dashing playwrights of the day. Voltaire, who often wrote to Jeanne for advice, sang our gal’s praises to his friend Françoise de Graffigny in a letter saying that she “was constantly imagining subjects for comedies and tragedies and offered them to authors, urging them to work on them.”


Anne Claude de Caylus

In the 1730s, Jeanne became friendly with a gentleman by the name of Anne Claude de Tubières-Grimoard de Pestels de Lévis, comte de Caylus, marquis d’Esternay, baron de Bransac. Yes, gals, that really was his name, but whaddya say we call him Caylus for the sake of ease. Anyway, Caylus, a man of letters, and Jeanne soon became co-hosts of a laid back salon called the Bout-du-Banc, which translated means “end of the bench.” Always held on Mondays, the fare was simple but good and they entertained themselves by singing, acting in skits, reading works in progress and collaborating on anthologies of facéties, parodies of popular genres. Sounds like they had a grand ol’ time!


Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Salon regulars included the poet Moncrif, the novelist Claude Crébillon, the novelist and historian Charles Pinot Duclos, and the financier philosopher Claude Adrien Helvétius. Even philosopher rock star, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, attended a dinner once on rue Sainte Anne.

While our darling Jeanne hobnobbed with all kinds of dashing men, and even did some successful matchmaking, Jeanne herself never married. She did, however, become the guardian of her eldest brother’s orphaned children after his death in 1745. In 1758, she moved from her Paris apartment to the more rural Saint-Germain-en-Laye where she lived quietly and corresponded with friends until her failing health led her to return to the city in 1778. This chic and independent trailblazer died in Paris on January 18, 1788 at the ripe old age of 89. Here’s to our gal, Jeanne Quinault, for a life well – and artfully – lived.

The Sally Award: Emma Roberts

Emma Roberts

If you saw what I saw, doll, you know there were so many fabulously-frocked party girls this week, including actress Lily Collins in a lipstick-red gown from Solace London at the Love, Rosie premiere. But the soireé sally who took the party cake this week was actress and singer Emma Roberts at the Hollywood premiere of FX’s American Horror Story: Freak Show.


In this stunning and strappy floor-length Saint Laurent number, it’s hard to believe that our gal, Emma, ever starred in anything called Unfabulous.  With its daring thigh-high slit that showed off plenty of gam, this sexy frock is what you call stand-out style…literally.


Emma accessorized the winning look with a chic Edie Parker acrylic clutch, Casadei black suede kicks and subtle Derek Lam for Jame Wolfe earrings. Her soft side-swept bun, smokey eyes and dark nail color added just the right touch of casual elegance. In true Madison Montgomery style, you moved us, doll. Well done.

Images: Getty, Harper’s Bazaar and Tom and Lorenzo

Party Makeup Must-Haves

Jean Harlow

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness.

Sweet cheeks, a party-perfect ensemble without flawless skin and eyelashes worth batting is like a Manhattan without the Maraschino. It’s just not complete. To look and feel truly fête fabulous, you have to put your best face forward, doll. That’s why we’re opening the doors to our founder Carla’s top-secret cosmetic cache. On your maquillage, get set, go. It’s time to meet the Dollface Dozen, the 12 party makeup basics that Carla swears by and says every soirée-loving gal should have at her fingertips.

Dior Pore Minimizer

 Dior Pore Minimizer Skin Refining Matte Primer

This weightless skin primer visibly reduces pores and smooths and refines the skin’s texture, creating a flawless base for your party makeup.

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

This award-winning formula has become the holy grail of foundations. Weightless and buildable so you can achieve whatever level of coverage you prefer, this breakthrough foundation gives the skin a polished, satiny finish that stays put for hours.

Cle de Peau

 Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer

A perennial makeup artist favorite, this award-winning spot concealer provides smooth, seamless and complete coverage without caking or settling into fine lines.

Touche Eclat

YSL Touche Éclat Radiant Touch

Another cult classic among makeup artists and models, this light-reflecting highlighting pen can be used to erase the shadows in the tear troughs and nasolabial folds. Place a slender, well-blended line down the center of the nose to make it look slimmer.

Beauty Blender

The Original Beauty Blender

Blend, blend, blend. This revolutionary sponge applicator is perfect for blending your foundation, concealer and highlighter seamlessly to create a party-perfect complexion.

Collyre Bleu

Collyre Bleu Eye Drops

A long-time secret weapon of models and celebrities, this blue-tinted eye drop from France removes the yellow in the whites of the eyes leaving peepers looking brighter, cleaner and more youthful.


Laura Mercier Eye Canvas

A creamy eyelid foundation best applied with a brush, this oil-absorbing formula neutralizes eyelid redness and provides a smooth, velvety and long-lasting base for eye shadow.


Kevyn Aucoin Precision Liquid Liner

This felt tip waterproof eyeliner delivers the blackest of black color onto your eyes without skipping or smudging, and the ultra-fine tip provides the ability to create every kind of look from natural to dramatic.



Lancome’s Hypnose Drama (top) and Definicils Mascaras

When it comes to mascara, Carla prefers a cocktail: one coat of Lancome’s Hypnose Drama for volume and one coat of Lancome’s Definicils for lengthening and to coat the little lashes in the corners.


Kevyn Aucoin Eyelash Curler

Sleek, slim and perfectly designed, this is the Ferrari of eyelash curlers. After applying your mascara, allow it to dry, clamp the curler on your lashes and apply a few short, gentle pumps from the base to the tip of the lashes to give them a dramatic curl.

Buxom lip gloss

Buxom Lip Polish in Dominique

This clear, high-shine lip gloss adds a festive sparkle to any lip color. Carla uses it on nude lips for every day shine, too.

Secret Brightening Powder

Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder

This lighter-than-air setting powder is the perfect finishing touch for your makeup: a quick dusting across the forehead, on the nose and chin brightens, lightens and boosts luminosity.

Introductory Mashup
Photo: Jean Harlow 
Quote: Audrey Hepburn

Please consider following us on Twitter and Instagram. For Pink October, we have pledged to donate $1 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for every new follower.

Tipsy Tuesday: Host and Hostess Gifts


“Licorice, mmmm. If there’s anything I’m a sucker for, it’s licorice.”

Hey doll, it’s Tuesday, our favorite day of the week, the day we like to get…tipsy! Today, we’re offering up tips on choosing a memorable hostess gift – you can’t throw every party, doll – by letting 10 of the country’s chicest party givers spill the beans about the most memorable host or hostess gift they have ever received. Many a trinket has been bestowed upon these stylish social butterflies over the years, so you can bet that there’s a lesson to be learned from the goodies that stand out. Gather ’round, darlin’. Their answers prove that an inspired host or hostess gift doesn’t always have to cost a pretty penny. It really is the thought that counts.

Cornelia Guest, philanthropist, entrepreneur, author and animal rights advocate: Without a doubt, a treat for my dogs. And of course anything rosé!!!!


Cornelia Guest

Christopher Spitzmiller, designer and maker of hand-thrown ceramic lamps: Sinners & Saints cookies from Studmuffin Desserts are my favorite.

Christopher Spitzmiller

Christopher Spitzmiller

Carmen Dell’Orefice, supermodel: A six-pack of Fiji water. I am, above all things, practical and it was something I could actually use.


Carmen Dell’Orefice

Jaqui Lividini, philanthropist, luxury branding guru and entrepreneur: One dozen fresh eggs in a basket. They were gorgeous, exotic colors just laid that morning – so chic!

Lana Ogilvie, fashion model: A beautiful little drawing of the food we served the night before. It was really the most wonderful and original gift. I have it framed and hanging on our wall.


Lana Ogilvie

Lana Ogilvie

Lana received this lovely piece of art from a guest after hosting a 15-course dinner party

Natasha Bergreen, interior and floral designer: Friends from Maine gave me a hostess gift that was beyond…a beautiful willow basket filled with the most amazing collection of hand foraged chanterelle mushrooms and delicately wrapped soft shell lobsters presented on a bed of glistening seaweed.

Lauren Ezersky, fashion icon, philanthropist and television producer and host: A fabulous pair of sandals with 14 karat gold decorations. I occasionally use them as table decor!

Tata Harper, founder and creator of Tata Harper luxury skin care: For one of my dinner parties, a friend brought a delicious pie in a gorgeous pottery pie dish. When we finished dessert, she said I could keep the dish! I thought that was such a special thing to do.


Tata Harper

Gavin Phipps, owner and designer, Phipps Jewelry: Tickets to watch Sampras defeat Becker at center court at Wimbledon.

Carla McDonald, founder of The Salonniere: A basket of homemade breakfast treats for the morning. When you’re planning a big party, the last thing you’re thinking about is what you’ll have for breakfast the next day. I found it so thoughtful!

Introductory photo: Auntie Mame, 1958
Introductory quote: Adam’s Rib, 1949

The Sally Award: Amal Alamuddin Clooney


Doll, like Dino used to croon, When the stars make you drool like a pasta fazool, that’s amore. Well, last week, no star shined brighter in the party galaxy than gorgeous Amal Alamuddin Clooney at her Italian wedding. But, hold onto your grappa, doll, because the dress we’ve chosen as the best party look of the week might just surprise you. It’s not the striped Dolce & Gabbana dress she wore upon her arrival in Venice or the red Alexander McQueen dress she donned for the rehearsal dinner. It’s not even the Oscar de la Renta wedding gown – gorgeous as it was – or the ivory Stella McCartney pantsuit and matching hat that she sported to the civil ceremony. The party look that had us all clinking our glasses of Prosecco was the Gatsby-style Oscar de la Renta dress that she changed into for the reception. Covered in silver and pearl beads and featuring layers of beaded fringe, it was the perfect frock for loosening up and dancing the night away.


But here’s the best part: Amal’s splendiferous shift, part of Signor de la Renta’s Fall 2014 Collection, used to be an ankle-length gown. Our gal, Amal, had it shortened to make it the perfect, jazzy dress for sashaying. Way to make fashion work for you, doll. Back to our guy, Dino. When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet, you’re in love. Signora Clooney, we sure were in love with your dancing dress. Brava, baby.

Amal and George Clooney

Top photo: Hello!

Giving Back: Pink October


I believe in pink.

We believe in pink too, doll, especially Pink October, also known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That’s why we want to give a whopping $10,000 to The Breast Cancer Research Fund, a non-profit organization committed to preventing and curing breast cancer by advancing the world’s most promising research. But we need your help. To honor Pink October, our philanthropic founder, Carla McDonald, has pledged to give $1 to BCRF for every new follower we can line up on our Twitter and Instagram accounts during the month of October. To thank you for participating, one lucky new follower will win this super soft pink robe with satin trimmed lapels and an embroidered remembrance ribbon with decorative rhinestone. What could be more perfect for getting party gorgeous?


Will you help us break the bank, doll? Clicking on the pink icons below will take you to our Twitter and Instagram pages. Easy breezy, baby, and thanks for participating.

instagram-6-xxl twitter-3-xxl

Official Rules: No purchase is necessary to enter or win. To be counted, you must be a new follower of The Salonniere’s Twitter or Instagram account between the dates of October 3, 2014 at 9:00 am EST and October 31, 2014 at midnight EST. You must still be following The Salonniere on November 2, 2014, at midnight EST. You must be a Twitter or Instagram user in good standing who is a legal resident of the U.S. and over the age of 21. Automated or robotic entries submitted by individuals or organizations will be disqualified.  Any attempt by an entrant to obtain additional entries by using commercial contest/sweepstakes subscription notification and/or entering services, will void that entrant’s entry and that entrant may be disqualified. The winner will be selected in a random drawing from all eligible entries received during the sweepstakes period. The random drawing will be conducted by November 2, 2014 at midnight EST. All decisions are final. The odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. The winner will be notified through Twitter or Instagram. It is the responsibility of the winner to check his or her Twitter or Instagram account to see if he or she has won. The potential winner must accept the prize by return message or email within 48 hours of notification. Any winner notification not responded to or returned as undeliverable may result in prize forfeiture. The Salonniere is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of Twitter or Instagram. No substitution or transfer of a prize is permitted. Employees or agents of The Salonniere and members of their immediate families and/or persons living in the same household are ineligible to win. The Salonniere reserves the right in its sole and absolute discretion to award a substitute prize of equal or greater value if the prize described cannot be awarded for any reason. The Salonniere makes no representation or warranty concerning the appearance, safety or performance of the prize awarded. The Salonniere will not replace any lost or stolen prize items. All federal, state and/or local taxes, fees, and surcharges are the sole responsibility of the prize winner. Failure to comply with the Official Rules will result in forfeiture of the prize. The charitable donation will be made up to a maximum of $10,000. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Introductory photo and quote: Audrey Hepburn

RSVP: Kimberly Schlegel Whitman

Kim Whitman

Darling, come on in. We’re just sitting here sipping bourbon with lifestyle expert and party planner extraordinaire, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, as she prepares for a fabulous fall fete at her lovely Dallas home. An editor-at-large for Southern Living and a regular guest on The Today Show, our pal Kim has planned some sensational soirees for the likes of Bobbi Brown, Tory Burch, Louis Vuitton and one of our favorite party frock resources, Net-a-Porter. She is also the author of six lifestyle tomes including the The Party Planner: An Expert Organizing Guide for Entertaining that offers tips and worksheets on everything essential—from invitations to attire—for organizing a fabulous fete. Doll, we can hardly stand it. These details are right up our alley! Pull up a chair, and let’s get cozy as this affable salonniere and entertaining guru gets personal about her favorite party tips and memories—like the time she met the fabulous Anna Wintour in Paris.

Your entertaining style?

Ohhhhh….I love to mix it up…cocktail parties, dinner parties, pool parties but I always love to pay close attention to the details.

Irene Neuwirth

Kim designed this 60s-inspired table for a dinner honoring jewelry designer, Irene Neuwirth

Best or most memorable party you’ve ever attended?

Liaisons de Louvres in Paris several years ago was an amazing night put together by the incredible Becca Cason Thrash.

Most fascinating person you met at a party?

We met Mikhail Gorbachev and Anna Wintour at the same party in Paris several years ago – that was quite the night!

Dream dinner partner?

Dolly Parton – that smile and positive attitude could make any party a life-changer.

Dining room

Kim’s dining room is always dinner party ready 

Best conversation piece in your home?

Photos of friends, family and our travels. There is an amazing photo of my in-laws in Paris in the late 60s that always catches everyone’s eye. My husband likes to show off the photo that our friend, Buzz Aldrin, sent when our son was born – the iconic photo of his moon landing with a note that reads “To JR, Welcome to this world. Buzz.”

Party you’re most proud of?

Our wedding. We have so many special memories from that weekend. We hope our dearest friends had so much fun!

Party item you’re in the market for?

I’m always looking for great containers for flowers. I love to hunt at auctions, flea markets and estate sales.


Kim loves the idea of spray painting old glass bottles and using them as vases

Most memorable hostess gift you ever received?

Books and games for my children so that they were entertained while we were celebrating. It was so thoughtful.

Most memorable thank you note you ever received?

I have a scrapbook full of notes that are meaningful to me. One came from a “Grand Dame” of Dallas society and it was so special to me to get a note from a woman who I have such admiration for.

You know you’re at a Kim Whitman party when…

The napkins are monogrammed and my handsome husband, Justin, is playing DJ :).

How do you stay party ready. What’s always in your fridge or pantry?

Champagne, cheese and crackers. That is really all you need to throw a great night together.

Best tip for making your home a great entertaining space?

There should be lots of places to sit and relax and every chair should have a table within reach so that guests can set down a drink.

Kim Whitman

Kim has a small bar set up in her cozy library for impromptu entertaining 

Best tip for getting your home party ready quickly?

Put flowers everywhere. I always go overboard with flowers even though I always say that I am not going to! My sister, Krystal, just started a flower business and is putting what we learned at flower school in Paris to good use!

What would you buy if you only had $100 to spend on party décor?

A disco ball!

Your go-to conversation starter for a shy dinner partner?

I always ask about their travel plans and/or books they have recently read.

Three party pet-peeves? 

I have one major one—when it is too loud to have a conversation!

Three party must-haves?

Candles, champagne and interesting, friendly, smiling guests


Kim puts the finishing touches on an al fresco tabletop design

Let’s play favorites…

Cocktail – St. Germain Cocktail – simple and delicious

Champagne – Anything rosé

Food – French fries if I’m being honest. A beet salad if I’m trying to give you the impression that I only eat healthy!

Flower – Peonies or Pois de Senteur

Florist – My sister Krystal’s new flower business, Flowers by Krystal!

Krystal Schlegel

A floral arrangement by Krystal Schlegel from Flowers by Krystal

Dishes – Herend. I love the classics!

Glassware – Moser

Linens – Porthault

Porthault’s Papyrus collection of table linens 

Hostess gift – Geode candle holders or acrylic boxes from CJ Designs

Party dress designer – I like to mix things up with designers and try new things. My new favorite dresses are from Rosie Assoulin that I order on Moda Operandi

Party shoe – YSL Tributes are actually comfortable but I am usually barefoot or in flats when I entertain at home

Kim’s go-to party shoe…when she’s not barefoot, that is

What will you wish for this year when you blow out your birthday candles?

I’ll be thinking of the things I’m so grateful for this year and the goals that I’ve set for next year.

Fabulous, doll, thanks for having us.

To meet more of today’s top salonnieres, come on in and spend time here.

Introductory image: Beverly Drive Magazine

Tête-à-Tête: Maureen Petrosky

Bette Davis
Will you bring me five more martinis, Leo? And line them right up here.

Hey doll, grab your whisky flip and join us as we tipple and talk with our spirited friend, Maureen Petrosky. A cocktail expert who also happens to be a Culinary Institute of America grad and a certified sommelier through the Master Court of Sommeliers, Maureen is the author of a fabulous new giggle water guide called The Cocktail Club: A Year of Recipes and Tips for Spirited Tasting Parties. Full of beautiful photos of drinks and nibbles for every month of the year, The Cocktail Club is the ultimate guide to throwing a spirited soiree. You may also know Maureen from her regular appearances on NBC’s Today show and her popular column on Doll, with Maureen in the mix, finding inspired ways to serve the hard stuff has never been so easy.


Maureen, second from right, on the set of NBC’s “Today” show 

What are your three must-haves for a great cocktail party?

A pre-batched pitcher drink, plenty of ice and another set of hands. My darling husband is my right hand when we entertain. Don’t go at it alone, even if you prep everything ahead of time. There is always a lot to manage once guests arrive.

What’s the best way to stay cocktail party ready?

Always keep bourbon, a small batch gin, vodka, both sweet and dry vermouth, club soda, lemons and limes, and bubbly wine in the house. And, of course, polished glassware. Dry your glasses with a paper towel before you put them away so you’re not fussing with spotty glasses on the day of your party.

The Cocktail Club

Maureen’s new book includes cocktail party tips for every month of the year

What’s the perfect number of people for a cocktail party?

It depends on how intimate you want it to be. Twelve to 15 works for me because it creates a good mix of people, and I can talk to everyone at the party.

What are the hot cocktail trends for the fall?

Big batches and pitcher drinks. They’re perfect for hosts who want to be part of the party instead of spending all their time working it. I also crave beer and beer cocktails in the fall. I think it goes back to my college days.

Fish House Punch

Fish House Punch (recipe below) is the perfect batch drink for fall 

What’s the most underrated cocktail?

The Negroni, by far. Made with gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and club soda, it’s a cocktail that works in every season. I find that people who like whiskey like Negronis and people who say they don’t like gin also like Negronis. They are simply divine. (Recipe below.)

What cocktail is due for a comeback?

All the flips. That means there’s an egg in the drink. Flips are frothy, creamy and indulgent, like a nice full-bodied Cabernet as opposed to one that is flat and wimpy. Cocktail bars in the cities have been shaking these up for a while, but I think the rest of the country will catch on once they give them a try. They’re fun.

Apple Blow FizzAn Apple Blow Fizz is the perfect flip drink for fall

What are your tips for choosing a signature cocktail for a party?

Don’t over-think it. Make something you really like and chances are others will like it, too. Or, at the very least, you can use your enthusiasm and charm to convince them that they do. Pre-make more than one batch. When people are offered a specific cocktail upon arriving, they usually take it and stick with it.

What’s the best way to create your own signature cocktail?

Think seasonally. Right now, start with apple cider and bourbon and build on that. In the winter, I like to start with a batch of hot toddies on the stove. During the summer, it could be a white peach sangria or a blueberry lavender vodka spritzer depending on what’s in the garden. I always let the garden guide my bar.

What’s your go-to cocktail party hors d’oeuvre?

My tomatoes with vodka and sea salt. Pour a little vodka in the bottom of an olive tray and place a single row of tomatoes right on top. Serve them with toothpicks and a side of coarse salt in a small bowl. Guests should prick a vodka-soaked cherry tomato and then just barely dip it into the salt to coat the bottom. It’s simple, delicious, fun to eat and impresses every time.

Tomatoes vodka and salt

Where do you recommending shopping for party pieces?

I like estate sales and garage sales. I don’t like to have what everyone else has. I love to use vintage glassware and fun trays I’ve found along the way. Mismatched, but complimentary, linens and serving pieces let me share my style.

Maureen Petrosky

Do you recommend printed or emailed invitations?

Printed. Receiving a printed invitation in the mail is like spotting a rare bird. Chances are if someone mails me a nice invitation, I’ll be there. Unless it’s for another baby shower. Then, I’ll pour myself a cocktail and ponder the idea.

What’s the best way to avoid a hangover?

Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Pace yourself and drink water. Have a glass before you go to bed and put another on the nightstand. Believe me, you’ll want it.

Let’s play favorites…

Favorite vodka cocktail?

White Cosmo

Favorite gin cocktail?

Negroni (recipe below)


Maureen calls Negronis “the perfect sip”

Favorite tequila cocktail?

Margarita made with fresh lime juice – no pre-made mixers, please

Favorite bourbon cocktail?

An Old Fashioned

Favorite bubbly cocktail?

Aperol Fizz. It was the drink that started my cocktail club! We kicked off our monthly wine club with this darling, orangey spritzer and, from then on, it was au revoir wine club and HELLO cocktail club! One sip and you’ll see why. Pour one ounce of Aperol into a champagne flute and top it off with 3 ounces of Prosecco.

Favorite glassware?

Coupes. I’m so happy they’re back in style, although my husband would like to know why I need as many as I have. If anyone is throwing a party and needs to borrow 60 or so, you know who to call.

Monique Lhuil

Monique Lhuillier Waterford Coupes

Monogrammed. Whenever someone hands me a monogrammed linen cocktail napkin, I feel like the drink is going to be something special.

Favorite bar?

Usually the one I’m in.

We’ll drink to that, doll. Thanks, Maureen, for popping by.

Welcome photo: Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins
Welcome quote: The Thin Man, 1934

Some of Maureen’s favorite cocktail recipes:


Fish House Punch

Serves 20
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
6 cups water
1 quart of lemon juice
2 quarts dark rum
1 quart VSOP Cognac
1/2 cup peach brandy
Chilled club soda or Champagne to top
Ice ring or block

In a large punch bowl, combine the sugar and enough water to dissolve. Stir until dissolved. Then add the lemon juice, rum, Cognac, and brandy and stir to combine. Add the ice and top with the club soda or Champagne just before serving.


Classic Negroni Recipe

Serves 1
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce gin
Flamed orange peel for garnish

Combine all of the ingredients in a short glass filled with ice and stir. Run the flamed orange peel around the edge of the glass, lightly squeezing to express the oils. Drop the peel into the glass and enjoy. A plain orange peel works just as well here.

5256b033697ab06b29002f97._w.540_s.fit_Smoked Maple Bourbon Chai Tea

Serves 1
6 ounces steaming hot water
2 chai tea bags
3 ounces Knob Creek Maple Bourbon
1 ounce half-and-half
Cinnamon stick for garnish

Pour the steaming water over the chai tea bags in a heatproof mug. Let steep for 3 minutes, then remove the tea bags. Add the maple bourbon and half-and-half and stir to combine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. This recipe calls for two tea bags because I prefer stronger chai spice flavors with this maple bourbon, but feel free to scale back to one tea bag to suit your preference. Though not as creamy as half-and-half, you can also substitute Parmalat when camping. Parmalat is a shelf-stable milk product that is perfect for camping because no refrigeration is required.


Apricot Flip
From the PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan; makes 1 drink.
2 ounces Cognac
3/4 ounce Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 whole organic egg
Fresh nutmeg to grate as garnish

Add all ingredients to a shaker and dry-shake (shake without ice). Add ice and shake again until well chilled. Strain into a glass and grate some nutmeg on top as garnish.

The Sally Award: Nieves Alvarez

Nieves-Alvarez-In-Emilio-Pucci-Vogue-Italia-50th-Anniversary (1)

Ciao, bella. What a week for fabulously-frocked party gals, especially in Italy, But none dazzled quite like the striking Spanish model and actress Nieves Alvarez at the Vogue Italia 50th Anniversary party on September 21st in Milan. Nieves was positively aglow in a midnight blue sequined dress with thigh-high slit from Emilio Pucci’s Pre-Fall 2014 Collection. Let’s face it, doll, this is the perfect party dress: effortless, elegant and easy to wear but completely glamorous and sexy. Sleek, pulled back hair, smokey eyes, a nude lip and bejeweled Bulgari drop earrings added the perfect finishing touches. That’s what we call fashion amore, baby.

Marquise du Deffand

Marquise du Deffand

Marquise du Deffand (source: Eon Images)

Oh, doll, whatever you’re doing can wait. You simply must join our bunny about the Marquise du Deffand. Fiercely independent and quite flirtatious, she’s another of our salonniere gals who was far ahead of her time.

Marie Anne de Vichy-Chamrond was born into a noble family in 1697 at the Château de Chamrond in beautiful Burgundy. Smart as a whip, she was sent to study at a convent in Paris but her cynical turn of mind and freedom of views and spirit quite alarmed the abbess, so her parents decided the best thing to do was to get the girl hitched.

So, when Marie was 21, they arranged to have her marry a  gentleman 10 years her senior, the dull Jean Baptiste de la Lande, marquis du Deffand. It was not long before our gal decided she’d had enough of the old fuddy-duddy and ditched him for a duke becoming, instead, the mistress of the duke of Orleans. Our lady liked to play the field, though, and, in 1721, cultivated a friendship with Voltaire, perhaps even fancied the witty writer, who became her regular pen pal.

Portrait of Voltaire by Maurice Quentin de la Tour c. 1736, three years into his relationship with the Marquise du Châtelet. (Wikimedia commons)

A portrait of Voltaire by Maurice Quentin de la Tour c. 1736

You can imagine how charming she must have been to attract so many interesting men, and that esprit made her the center of a brilliant circle, her salon. With her notorious band of high-born débauchés, the Marquise’s salons were a welcoming place for the libertines and aristocrats of the day. Among her famous guests were Charles Henault (President of the Court of Inquiry and a close friend of the Queen), the writer, Marmontel, and the philosophers, Diderot and Montesquieu.

Another habitué of her salon who caught the Marquise’s eye – here we go, again, darlin’ – was Jean le Rond D’Alembert, a mathematician and the publisher of the Encyclopedie. They remained close until the Marquise started to lose her sight in 1754 and she brought in Mademoiselle Julie de Lespinasse to help with her salons. Lo and behold, the younger Julie went behind the Marquise’s back and charmed D’Alembert and, when the ladies had a quarrel and went their separate ways, Julie took D’Alembert with her.


Jean le Rond D’Alembert

Our matron may have been saddened to lose her literary clique and her beloved D’Alembert, but she wasn’t the type to cry over spilled Margaux. She soon found a younger man with whom to liaise, the British art historian and man of letters, Horace Walpole. Now 67, our Marquise developed quite a crush on Horace and, though he may not have encouraged her advances, the two did maintain a voluminous correspondence. Upon her death in 1780 at the age of 83, the Marquise left her precious papers and her precious pooch, Tonton, to his care.

Horace Walpole

A portrait of Horace Walpole by John Giles Eccardt, circa 1755

A book of the Marquise’s letters, Correspondance Inédite De Mme Du Deffand Avec D’alembert, Montesquieu, Le Président Hénault, La Dsse Du Maine, Mmes De Choiseul, De Staal, Le Mis … Lettres De M. De Voltaire À Mme Du Deffand, was published posthumously in 1809. What a  dame, don’t you think, doll? Until the end, this smart and sassy salonniere kept her mind and her options wide open.

10 Tips for Fall Entertaining


Even a man who is pure in heart may become a wolf when the autumn moon is bright.

Howdy, pumpkin. Grab your Sazerac because we’re toasting the Autumnal Equinox, the day when the sun shines directly on the Earth’s equator and starts heading south. In other words, it’s the first day of the fall party season, doll, and we’re feeling tipsy. Want to spice up your autumn soirée? Then feast your eyes on our 10 best entertaining tips for fall.

1. Choose a stellar date. Let’s face it, there’s nothing more festive than an autumn moon, so hold your party on or around an evening when the moon is full and bright. Full moon dates this fall are October 8th and November 6th. If it’s not too cool, serve cocktails or dinner outside. You can always drape pretty throws in seasonal colors over the backs of the chairs for those who get chilly.

Full moon fall dinner

A full moon is the perfect party light 

2. Harvest your guest list. Select your guest list carefully to ensure a fun, interesting and diverse mix of guests. Have a look through your social media feeds to see who had interesting experiences over the summer that you think others might enjoy hearing about.

3. Spice things up with a signature cocktail. Welcome your guests with a drink that puts them in the mood for the cool, crisp days of autumn. Try a Spiced Pear Collins, which is made with gin (you know we’re gin girls, darlin’), pear puree and rosemary.


Spiced Pear Collins

4. Prepare a seasonal feast. Serve warm, earthy nibbles with squash, pears, fennel, figs, apples and other fall flavors. Butternut squash soup served in shot glasses and garnished with fried sage leaves is a classic autumnal touch that looks beautiful passed on trays. Garnish your dishes and serving trays with edible fall leaves.

Edible fall leaves and flowers

Salads with edible fall leaves and flowers make a delicious seasonal statement

5. Fill the air with the sounds of autumn. Create a playlist that reflects the sounds of the season. It’s a subtle – but instrumental (pun intended, darlin’) – touch. Songs to consider are “Autumn Leaves” by Nat King Cole, “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire and “Forever Autumn” by the Moody Blues.

6. Bring a taste of autumn to your flowers. Reflect the bounty of fall with floral arrangements that include seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs like chard, beets, purple artichokes, fennel blossoms, rosemary and purple basil.


Artichokes add wonderful texture to autumnal arrangements

7. Sprinkle seasonal touches into your décor. Serve your nibbles on leaf-shaped serving platters like those from Michael Aram and choose linens in autumnal shades like gold, rust and pumpkin. Sferra’s Festival collection offers an abundance of hues from which to choose.

Michael Aram

Serving pieces from the Michael Aram Botanical Collection

8. Stoke the embers of friendship. Use lots of candles to make everyone look and feel gorgeous. Place votives in groups on tables to draw people together as though they’re gathering around a hearth.

9. Gather the leaves. As each guest leaves your party, thank them for coming and send them home with a warm hug and an old-fashioned thermos filled with cider or a classic caramel apple – nostalgic touches always make people smile.

Caramel apples

10. Chill. Remember to relax and have fun. You know how it goes, sugar. If you don’t have a good time at your autumn fête, your guests won’t either.

For more fall entertaining ideas, have a look at our story about the 10 best new entertaining books.

Introductory image: Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in Sabrina, 1954
Introductory quote: The Wolf Man, 1941

The Sally Award: Keira Knightley

9w4fxbw007y99940 Mornin’ darlin’, we’re pouring mimosas and dishing about the best party look of the week. Tell me, doll, did you happen to see Keira Knightley at the party for her new film, Laggies? It was at the Toronto Film Festival, and let’s just say Keira was looking positively sally. She was all dolled up in a stunning Michael van der Ham navy number that had a bodice with black and silver beading and a layered-tulle skirt. Leith Clark, who styled the look, accessorized the custom gown simply with a thin diamond bangle and a pair of elegant black suede evening pumps. Yep, that’s it. So refined. And, of course, you know how we feel about black and navy together – très sophisticated.


Gorgeous Keira completed the look with a bold red lip, gray-lined eyes and an effortless low pony. We hereby confer this week’s Sally Award for the best party look of the week on the most courtly of British beauties, Keira Knightley. Congrats, doll.

Tell us what you think about Keira’s look on any of our social butterfly channels:  FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

RSVP: India Hicks

India Hicks HSN Habitually Chic

Doll, come on in and meet beautiful salonniere, India Hicks, who’s here to share her top hostess tips as she recalls attending two of the most famous royal parties in history. She is 678th in line to the British Throne after all. The daughter of David Hicks, the famed interior designer, and Lady Pamela Hicks, the daughter of the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, British-born India has blended her chic and royal roots to make a name for herself as the empress of island style. India has her own line of home products called Island Living by India Hicks, her own line of fine jewelry and her own isle-style blog. She has also penned three lifestyle books, built and restored five major properties, designed products for companies including Crabtree & Evelyn, hosted television programs, modeled for top fashion houses and, yes, run marathons. Given this beauty’s busy-bee propensities, it’s a good thing that she, her partner, David, and their five children have a Bahamian sanctuary to call home. Let’s jump in, doll, shall we? Bare feet first, of course.

Your entertaining style?
Barefoot under the stars with lots of candlelight, a mixed bag of guests and several snoring dogs.

Your favorite place to entertain?
On the top of the small hill in our garden, between the swaying palm trees, just as the sun sets and the sky turns blood-red.

India Hicks

India’s outdoor dining table in the garden of her Bahamian home

Tip for making your guests feel welcome?
Music, candles, flattering lighting and a tray of well-made cocktails.

Trait you most admire in a guest?

Go-to hostess outfit?
A long, silk kaftan, damp hair tied into a ballerina bun, gold bangles and bare feet.

India Hicks

What did you learn from your parents about entertaining?
A well thought out placement is essential.

Last party you hosted?
A mid-summer dinner on our terrace with a long table stretching from end to end, lots of teenagers, lots of friends, lots of family and several people being thrown into a warm pool.

India Hicks

India’s table at her recent mid-summer dinner party

How do you stay party ready?
I keep assorted cheeses and crackers on hand. David says cheese never goes off; it simply changes its name.

Let’s play favorites:
Linens—India Hicks for HSN linen sheet collection
Party dress designer—Ralph Lauren
Party shoe for all-night dancing—Haviana flip flops
Hostess gift—Baby pineapple plant, very ornate and can one day be eaten.

You were one of Princess Diana’s flower girls at her wedding to Prince Charles. What do you remember most from that day?
How crumpled her dress was when she came out of that carriage

India Hicks

Twelve-year-old India, second from the left, at the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana 

What do you remember most about Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton?
Watching the Buckingham Palace balcony being vacuumed as armed SAS [Special Air Service] officers patrolled the roof top

Party you wish you could go back in time to attend?
Studio 54 in its heyday

Most fascinating person you met at a party?
Does Robert De Niro for coffee one morning count?

India Hicks

India in her office

Who is your dream dinner partner?
Nick Cave, songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer and lead singer of the Bad Seeds. He’s a real entertainer and was bloody brilliant at charades after dinner one evening.

What is the party invitation you’d most like to receive?
Dinner with Hilary Clinton in the White House when she is president.

How have your travels influenced your entertaining style?
Once on safari in Africa, we were celebrating one of David’s birthdays. He was served a large cake, shaped in an unusual mound, with a candle on top. The staff clapped and sang and chanted, “Cut it, cut it, cut it, cut it.” David sliced open the cake to find that it was made from fresh elephant poop. We may not bake poop cakes, but we are influenced by the drama of outdoor entertaining, the fun of a relaxed atmosphere and the charm of local customs.


India’s Thanksgiving dinner table 

What is the most interesting entertaining custom you encountered on your travels?
Not being allowed to show the backs of our knees, as women, in Malawi. Apparently it arouses the men too much. But having to eat alligator in Cuba so as not to offend my host was trickier.

If you could host a party anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Rajasthan, India, the land of kings. All that color. All those exotics flavors. Dramatic tents and a few elephants.

India Hicks

India prepares for a dinner party on the beach

Next party you’ll host?
Who knows, but February, March, April, May and June always test my imagination. David and four out of five of our children have birthdays then. One year we had so exhausted our birthday party themes that we ended up hosting a food fight on the beach with whipped cream, damp spaghetti and jelly. It was a huge success.

Photos courtesy of India Hicks, Veranda and Habitually Chic

The Sally Award: Kendall Jenner

Kendall Jenner

Darlin’, this week, we just had to give our Sally Award for best party look of the week to model-of-the-moment, Kendall Jenner, who turned heads during Fashion Week in a stunning Octavio Carlin gown at the Harper’s Bazaar Icons party in New York.

Kendall JennerLooking luminous in a cream-colored, floor-sweeping satin gown, Kendall showed a level of sophistication beyond her years by accessorizing her look simply with a classic chignon, matte evening make up and diamante sandals that echoed the elegant lines of the dress. Dashing, doll.

Harper's Bazaar celebrates 'Icons by Carine Rotifeld' - Arrivals

The Host of El Morocco

John Perona

John Perona

Dolls, one of the greatest party hosts of all time was a dapper fellow by the name of John Perona. For 30 years until his death in 1961, John lived at the epicenter of international café society as the owner of New York’s legendary supper club, El Morocco. Glamorous Hollywood movie stars, European royalty, South American millionaires and prominent society figures all cozied up on the club’s fabled zebra-patterned banquettes before dancing the night away to Gershwin and Cole Porter tunes beneath white palm trees.

El Morocco
On Tuesday, September 16th, auction house Doyle New York will hold a landmark sale, El Morocco: The John Perona Collection, that includes rare treasures from the nightclub that are sure to inspire modern-day salonnieres. 

Highlights of the sale include John Perona’s personal copy of the El Morocco Family Album, a 62-page folio of nearly 350 photos – many autographed – of the club’s most famous and glamorous patrons, including Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, Gloria Swanson and Gary Cooper.

Lot 691 is a treasure trove of rare autographed photos

Want to add some great old Hollywood party juju to your future fêtes? Consider bringing home one of these de-lovely trinkets. Our personal favorite is a fabulous bar set by Cartier in its original fitted box.


Lot 647 is a collectible Cartier Sterling Silver Bar Set 


Lot 697 is comprised of scarves, ashtrays and other gifts that John would give his VIP patrons  


Lot 648 includes vintage bar accessories and a traveling cocktail set in a leather case 

El Morocco linens

Lot 698 features table linens with the El Morocco logo 


Lot 779 is a Udall & Ballou gold and diamond compact  c. 1938

El Morocco menu

Lot 699 includes menus and other printed memorabilia from the New York supper club


Lot 612 comprises a set of Royal Copenhagen fish plates


Lot 686 includes a red evening gown that would be perfect for holiday entertaining

Also in the sale are more than 1,000 rare photographs from the 1930s through the 1950s, showing the biggest Hollywood stars of the day enjoying their nights hobnobbing at Elmo’s, as it was affectionately called.

For more information about El Morocco: The John Perona Collection, or to bid in person or by absentee ballot, visit the auction site or call 212-427-2730.

We feel a ’40s holiday party coming on, sugar.

10 Best New Entertaining Books

Hedy Lamarr and Robert Cummings

What do you feel like doing tonight? I don’t know, Ange. What do you feel like doing?

Autumn’s shorter days and longer nights make it the perfect season for parties. According to our latest national Party Poll, 64% of guys and dolls, ages 25-54, will host a party this fall. Want to spice up your autumn soirée? There are an abundance of new entertaining books set to hit the shelves this fall. Here are the 10 best, harvested just for you, pumpkin.

Jeff Leatham: Visionary Floral Art and Design. The floral artist to the stars, Jeff’s clients range from Givenchy and the George V Hotel in Paris to Oprah and Kylie Minogue. Filled with hundreds of photos and design tips, this tome is abloom with breath-taking floral ideas.


Vogue and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute: Parties, Exhibitions, People. Known as The Party of the Year, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute gala – also known as the Met Gala – is hands-down the most glamorous, sophisticated and completely fabulous annual fête. It’s also the most fruitful: it has raised millions for the Met year after year. Full of inspiring photos from past galas, this is a must-have for anyone looking to throw their own party of the year.


A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse. L’adore la cuisine française? Then you probably love Mimi Thorisson’s beautiful blog, Manger, as much as we do. This is Mimi’s first book and the photos and recipes will transport you to a time and place of rural, delectable bliss. Ooh, la la.

celebrity cocktails

Celebrity Cocktails. How could we not go positively gaga over cocktail recipes associated with such glammy Hollywood movie stars as Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor and Dean Martin. Grab your gimlet, doll. We feel a party coming on.


Valentino: At the Emperor’s Table. Written by the famed and fabulous Vogue fashion editor, André Leon Talley, this beautiful coffee table book is a comprehensive visual and written celebration of fashion designer Valentino Garavani, the lavish, luxe and ever-gracious host.

make it ahead

Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. If you like to host parties the way we do, you’d rather by hobnobbing with your guests than stirring your risotto. Chock full of delicious dishes you can prep, assemble and cook before your fête, this helpful book is your invitation to a completely stress-free dinner party.


Bordeaux: Legendary Wines. A beautiful compendium, you’ll love the list of wines from 125 châteaux, complete with a glossary, tables of harvest conditions of various years, and tasting notes for recent vintages.

life is a banquet

Life Is a Banquet: A Food Lover’s Treasury of Recipes, History, Tradition, and Feasts. Written by Swedish television personality and food historian, Edward Blom, this beautiful book is a smörgåsborg of culinary history, recipes, beautiful photographs and personal anecdotes,

party perfect bites

Party-Perfect Bites: 100 Delicious Recipes for Canapes, Finger Food and Party Snacks. In this must-have recipe book by London caterer-to-the-stars, Milli Taylor, you’ll find one hundred easy-to-make, soiree-friendly fingerfood recipes. Party perfect is right.

food and wine

Food & Wine: Best of the Best, Vol. 17: The Best Recipes from the 25 Best Cookbooks of the Year  Hosting a last-minute dinner party? Recipes from these annual volumes never fail. Each year, the editors of Food & Wine magazine put the best recipes from the best new cookbooks to the test. The top 25 make the cut.

Welcome photo: Hedy Lamarr and Robert Cummings
Welcome quote: Marty, 1955

The Sally Award: Shu Qi

Shu-Qi-Stéphane-Rolland-Couture-Bulgari-LVCEA-Launch-Event-e1409839543338This week’s Sally Award for best party look of the week goes to Taiwanese actress and model, Shu Qi, at the Bulgari LVCEA Launch Event on Wednesday in Beijing. We’ve always been a sucker for a dame in a tux and this chic ivory interpretation by Parisian couturier Stéphane Rolland – with its collarless tail coat, white pointy-collared dress shirt and maxi skirt with crystals and lace – offers a fresh and feminine spin. Qi’s low, sleek bun, red pout and on-the-ear statement jewels were the perfect finishing touches.  Congratulations, doll. You’ve got this week’s Award collared.

RSVP: Peter Som

Peter Som

Sugarplum, come on in. You’re just in time to meet our chic friend, fashion designer, Peter Som. Peter’s taking a break from preparing for his Friday morning show at Fashion Week to tell us about his other creative passion: hosting dinner parties.  As you may know, doll, our culinary couturier has an uncanny ability to find cohesion with all kinds of ingredients – his style aesthetic ranges from classic and elegant to quirky and colorful – and he’s just as masterful at mixing herbs and spices. In fact, Peter’s minestrone is the stuff of legends on the New York dinner party circuit. Hungry for the details? Well, grab your Côtes du Rhône and cozy up, mes chéris. Your party favor is Peter’s minestrone recipe.

Your entertaining style?

Casual and relaxed. It’s all about making my guests feel at ease. I love having friends over to my apartment for a casual dinner. For winter, I love duck breast with a super crispy skin with roasted Brussels sprouts. I prep as much as possible in advance so I won’t be stressed—after all, I want to enjoy the party as much as my guests! And I have an open kitchen so I can socialize while I cook.

Peter in his New York City kitchen. Photos courtesy of Elle magazine.

Last party you hosted?

A friend’s birthday party at my apartment. I served brown-rice sushi and shochu cucumber mojitos. My friend – pastry chef, Zac Young – made brownies encased in chocolate chip cookie dough. They were so good! I kept the décor simple with mint julep cups filled with red and orange roses. I’m not the best flower arranger but, trust me, mint julep cups filled with flowers are a fail-proof arrangement that anyone can do.

You just found out that you have eight people coming for dinner. What do you do?

This happens all the time! I always have a stash of homemade soups in my freezer and fresh produce in my fridge, so I’ll throw together a soup and salad for a light dinner or make a pasta—Cacio e Pepe or a quick Romesco sauce. For dessert, my go-to is always Affogato – vanilla ice cream and espresso with some slivered toasted almonds on top. You can’t go wrong.

What is your most treasured thank-you note?

One I received from Anna Wintour

som anna

Peter with Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor-in-chief 

Last party you attended?

A dinner party in Southampton. We dined al fresco and the back yard was strung with lights—everyone looked gorgeous!

Party you wish you could go back in time to attend?

Paul Poiret’s 1911 Thousand and Second Night Party

Most memorable party you attended?

Natalia Vodianova’s Love Ball at Valentino’s Château de Wideville

Natalia Vodianova in a custom Valentino gown at the Love Ball

Natalia Vodianova wearing a custom Valentino gown at the Love Ball

Most fascinating person you met at a party?

Tilda Swinton

Dream dinner partner?

Oprah Winfrey

You’ve dressed everyone from Kerry Washington and Allison Williams to Camilla Belle and Jessica Biel for the red carpet. Who would you love to design a party dress for?

Lupita Nyong’o

Julie Bowen chose a floral gown from Peter’s Fall 2014 Collection for this year’s Emmys

You’re so well-known for color and floral prints. You were even invited to create a vivid, print-filled collection for Anthropologie. How do you bring that aesthetic to your party décor?

I love color and always bring color and print into my parties with flowers. Peonies are my favorite. Often one bold statement is all you need. For example, in the winter, I buy magnolia branches and put them in a large glass vase and surround them with votive candles.

Tulip Magnolias

Tulip magnolias make a stunning architectural centerpiece

Money’s no object: what would you buy at the flower market and what would you do with them?

I would create a field of Lilly of the Valley on a long, long dining table.

What inspires your creativity?

Everything! Film, art, my friends and definitely NYC.

Favorite party resources?

Party Rental Ltd, the flower market in NYC and John Derian

Peter Som Cookbooks

Some of Peter’s favorite cookbooks 

Your three party pet-peeves?

Bad lighting, paper plates and dinners that start hours later than planned

Your three party must-haves?

Cloth napkins, fresh flowers and champagne

Next party you’ll host?

A fall dinner at my place where I’ll make my signature minestrone soup and serve it with homemade crusty warm bread

My Minestrone by Peter Som



1⁄2 pound pancetta, cubed
extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large yellow onion, large dice
3-4 celery stalks, medium dice
3 carrots, large dice
2 tablespoon rosemary, minced
kosher salt
black pepper
1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 large can San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 cups diced zucchini
2 cups yellow/summer squash
1 large russet potato, diced
8 cups homemade chicken stock (It makes a difference, but store-bought is fine too.)
1⁄2 to 1⁄2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 or 2 rinds Parmesano-Reggiano
1 bunch kale, chopped
Flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Sauté the pancetta with olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until slightly brown around the edges then add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add onion, celery, carrot, rosemary, some salt and pepper and sauté for approximately 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add beans, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash and potato. Add salt and pepper. Add chicken stock, chili pepper flakes, the bay leaf and Parmesan rinds. Simmer about 15 or until all vegetables are tender. Skim foam off the top. Ideally here is where you fish out the bay leaf (or just warn your guests not to eat it if they find it). Add the kale and continue to simmer until it’s wilted – approximately 2-3 minutes. Toss in the parsley. Serve with a hunk of Parmesano-Reggiano to be grated at the table using a microplane. If you want to add chicken, drizzle some chicken breast with salt, pepper and olive oil, roast it on a sheet pan at 450 for 20 minutes or until done. Cube and add some to each bowl. If you want to fancy up the soup, omit the kale and add 2 cups of sautéed wild mushrooms (such as cremini) as well as 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 a cup of heavy cream at the very end.

Thanks, Peter. That sounds as scrumptious as your fashion confections. We feel a fall dinner party coming on, doll.

Tête-à-Tête: Teri Agins

Robin Givhan, Teri Agins and Anna Wintour

Teri Agins (center) with Robin Givhan (left), fashion critic at The Washington Post, and Anna Wintour (right), editor-in-chief of Vogue

Hey doll, I’m so glad you stopped by. Fashion Week in New York kicks off on Thursday and we’ve got Teri Agins, one of the fashion industry’s most knowledgeable writers and revered insiders, here dishing about everything from the salliest gals on the party circuit to the 10 best ways to look fête-fabulous. The popular “Ask Teri” fashion columnist at the Wall Street Journal, our au courant pal has just published her second book, Hijacking the Runway, a fun and breezy read about the intersection between celebrity, fashion and commerce. Full of insidery details, fun historical facts and giggly gossip, this book is sure to be a hot topic at cocktail parties this fall. We should know, darlin’, because we got a sneak peek at the galleys this summer and read the baby in one rosé-filled sitting. Grab your gimlet, doll, and join our tête-à-tête.

We’re heading into the fall party season. What do you see as the major trends?

Fit and flare silhouettes that offer a fresh take on the sheath and pencil skirt; dark floral and bold abstract prints that deliver visual texture; booties with high heels; and sweater dresses. I just bought an ankle-length, black turtleneck sweater dress by Rick Owens that will be my go-to party dress this winter. It’s slinky and sophisticated.

Dark florals for fall

Bold floral patterns against black are a key fashion trend for fall

Anna Wintour stipulated “white tie and decorations” for the men at this year’s Costume Institute Ball. Do you think we’ll see a return to traditional formal attire this fall?

People dressed very formally at this year’s Met Gala to support the theme, which always dictates the dress, but I don’t see it starting any trends. People have loosened up a lot over the years where formal attire is concerned. I went to my first Costume Institute Ball in 1990. That was the era with Pat Buckley and Nan Kempner and it was all pretty formal and stuffy and dressed up. As Anna and Vogue became involved, and more Hollywood people infiltrated the party, the tenor changed. Women didn’t just wear long gowns. Some wore tea length dresses and the models wore really short, kicky dresses. Today, people want to look chic and dressed up, but no one wants to look super formal.

What do you think of the more relaxed take on formal party attire?

I love it. It’s relaxed-dressy and people look better. When women have their hair very done and sprayed and they’re dripping in jewelry, they can look very uptight, like they’re going to a prom in the ‘70s.Today, most women wear their hair to events in much the same way they wear it to work and just add a bit more makeup and some sparkly evening accessories. They look more like themselves.

Emma Stone

Emma Stone sported a more casual and textured coif last week at the Venice Film Festival 

What caused the trend away from very formal party attire?

In 1992, Alcoa, the aluminum manufacturing company, instituted a casual wear policy for two weeks to raise money for the United Way. They had 87% participation during the drive and broke all fundraising records. Alcoa never returned to formal office wear after that. That was the seminal event that changed the way we dress. Three years later, IBM moved to casual everyday dress at the office. After that, there was no going back to very formal dress codes. Women still wear gowns and cocktail dresses to parties but, for men, the cummerbund as a requisite part of a tuxedo has virtually disappeared. You might still see a very formal look in Europe at a big black-tie gala, but there aren’t many of those in the U.S. anymore.

Who are your favorite party dress designers?

I love Carmen Marc Valvo. His cocktail dresses and gowns are flattering on everybody. He knows how to design for women, particularly American women. He understands that we workout so our arms are bigger and many women have breast augmentation so they need room for alterations on top. He also cuts his sleeveless dresses to cover that awkward bit of skin where your shoulder meets your armpit. I also love Vera Wang, Reem Acra, Tadashi Shoji, and I get a good fit with Cavalli.

Carmen Marco Valvo

Teri, Katie Couric and Vanessa Williams are just a few of the fashionistas who love Carmen Marc Valvo’s little black dresses. These are from the designer’s Fall 2014 Collection.  

Who are your favorite party shoe designers?

Manolo Blahniks are the best—I’ve loved them for 25 years, because you can stand or dance in them for more than a couple of hours. Vince Camuto shoes are also comfortable party shoes. I also have a pair of black patent-leather Gucci stilettos that I love. They have a four-inch bamboo heel, but they’re remarkably comfortable, a really good fit.

Who always looks great at parties?

I love checking out Sarah Jessica Parker. She is an adventurous dresser and always looks fun and festive. Cate Blanchett and Shala Monroque, who wears a lot of Prada, are also risk-takers with great personal style. Tory Burch dresses pretty and classic with big, interesting earrings to punctuate her look. Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, always looks divine and sophisticated. Helen Mirren never fails. She has a beautiful figure, shows just the right amount of skin and looks chicer than just about everyone else at a party. Others I love seeing are Christine Baranski, Genevieve Jones and Lynn Wyatt, who has a dynamite figure and perfect posture. And let’s not forget Kate Middleton—she hits a home run in every ball gown.

Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker was one of our best-dressed picks at this year’s Costume Institute Gala

Teri, you’ve been to more than a thousand parties and hobnobbed with the most fashionable people in the world. Give us your top 10 tips for looking fête-chic.

1. Stick with what looks good on you. Know what trends you should sit out. Don’t let yourself be a fashion victim.

2. Alter everything. It’s the reason Fred Astaire always looked so good. I always say, go to the gym and spend your money on alterations.

3. Wear bold colors. Look at the invitation and wear one of the colors you see. Most people play it safe, but it’s boring when everyone is in a little black dress.

4. For a quick change from a day to evening look, put on a darker lipstick and a pair of evening earrings because those are what will get noticed across a table. Adding a pair of heels and a small evening clutch bag are imperative.

Dark lips for fall

Deep plum lipsticks like those from Audacious by Nars (shown above) are de rigueur for fall.

5. Wear shoes that match your skin tone to make you look taller.

6. Avoid bulk by cutting out the lining from your pockets and stitching them down.

7. Take selfies when you shop to see how your dress photographs. I never buy anything that doesn’t photograph well.

8. If you’re going to a party in another city, Google party photos from that city to find out what people wear. For example, in Washington, DC, black-tie always means a full tuxedo for a man.

9. Avoid the Christmas tree look. Some women feel that they’re not dressed up if they’re not super embellished, with earrings bracelets and necklaces. but dressing up does not mean piling on the bling.

10. Avoid strapless dresses. You’ll never find the right bra and you’ll spend the entire night pulling and tugging on your dress.

Teri Agins with Tom Ford

Teri with designer Tom Ford

Not ready for the party to end? Join us for more party patter on any of our social butterfly channels: FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.  

The Sally Award: Lizzy Caplan

Lizzy CaplanHey, doll. Come on in. We’re handing out this week’s Sally Award for the best party look of the week. Our winner? Masters of Sex star Lizzy Caplan who proved on Monday night that she’s also a mistress of fabulous style. While there were plenty of very sally ladies walking the red carpet on television’s biggest fashion night of the year, it was Lizzy in a Donna Karan Atelier gown who took the prize.

Black and white, modern and classic, provocative and ladylike, soft and structured, and sleek and flowing, this beautiful gown was full of perfectly harmonious contradictions. Styled by the enormously talented Ilaria Urbinati who also dresses Shailene Woodley, Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds and Nina Dobrev. Lizzy’s winning look included Neil Lane jewels, Brian Atwood shoes, and a Judith Lieber clutch. Her sleek, low bun and simple, classic make up allowed the statement dress to shine.

Photos: Ilaria Urbinati/Elle

Très chichi, Lizzy. Inspired by Lizzy’s winning look? Try these five party dresses on for size. We feel a black-tie party coming on.

J. Mendel Black and White Silk Gown at Bergdorf Goodman

Carmen Marc Valvo

Carmen Marc Valvo Sequined Waist Cut-Out Gown at Neiman Marcus

Cushnie et Ochs Cut-Out Gown with Pearls at Moda Operandi


Valentino Black and White Gown at StyleBop 


Cushnie et Ochs

Cushnie et Ochs Gown with Cut-Out Waist at Bergdorf Goodman

Party Hopping: 2014 Emmy Awards

Jon Hamm and January Jones

Jon Hamm and January Jones at the post-Emmy party, The Governors Ball

The soirées: The 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theater, followed by the Governors Ball at the Los Angeles Convention Center and the AMC and IFC Emmy After Party at Boa Steakhouse.

Swellest moments: Walking the red carpet, bien sûr; the palpable sense of joy and excitement that came from gathering together so many who share a passion for television; Billy Crystal’s personal and heartfelt tribute to Robin Williams – you could hear a pin drop; the assortment of L’Oreal make up and hair products in the ladies rooms for the taking; and Cheryl Cecchetto’s production of The Governors Ball, which featured gorgeous tables with linens that matched the flowers, a delicious menu catered by Patina Catering, and entertainment by The Voice‘s Judith Hill.

Governors Ball

Governors Ball

 “Kaleidoscope of Color” was the theme for the Governors Ball

What you didn’t see on the Emmy broadcast: The funny and touching video vignettes from past Emmy broadcasts that were shown during commercial breaks; the genuine sense of collegiality among the comics Seth Myers, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel; and the seat-filler “machine” – formally-attired men and women came out en masse during the commercial breaks to sit in the 40 to 50 seats that were left empty by those going to the restroom or leaving altogether because their category had already been announced.

Din-din: The first course was a delicious grilled peach and heirloom tomato salad with figs, burrata, peppermint, basil and Marcona almonds served with a 2013 Beaulieu Vineyard Maestro Collection Sauvignon Blanc. The main course was a perfectly prepared filet of beef with artisan grapes, squash and crispy kale served with a 2011 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Dessert was a chic and delicious take on s’mores featuring a whipped ganache, torched marshmallow fluff, graham crumble and chocolate-covered pop rocks served with a 2012 Beaulieu Vineyard Maestro Collection Napa Valley Port.

Dessert at the Governors Ball

S’mores like you’ve never had them at The Governors Ball

Looking super sally: Jon Hamm, January Jones, Lena Headey, Lizzie Caplan, Matt Bomer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Juliana Margulies, Claire Danes, Idris Elba, Halle Berry, Sarah Silverman, Sarah Hyland, Octavia Spencer, Seth Myers and Bryan Cranston.

Aaron Paul and Lauren Parsekian

Aaron Paul and Lauren Parsekian at The Governors Ball

anna gunn

Anna Gunn at The Governors Ball

calire daines

Claire Danes in the color of the night at The Governors Ball

Christina Hendricks

Christina Hendricks on her way into the AMC and IFC After Party

Not ready for the party to end? Stop by and visit with us on any of our social butterfly channels: FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.  Toodle-oo!

Sally Award: Janie Bryant

Janie Bryant

Peter and Janie Bryant at the 2014 Creative Emmy Awards

This week’s Sally Award for best party look of the week goes to “Mad Men” costume designer, Janie Bryant, at the Creative Emmy Awards on August 16th in Los Angeles. Looking every bit as glamorous as the movie stars she dresses, Bryant shined in a silver beaded and paillette-covered KaufmanFranco gown. Bryant’s hair – side parted and softly waved – and dark, smokey eyes added the perfect old Hollywood touch to the look and showcased her impeccable sense of style. Completing the retro-glam look were a Nancy Gonzalez clutch, David Yurman bracelets and a very-today dark purple manicure. Bryant’s red carpet moment was confident and dazzling. Simply put, we were mad about it, doll.

Mad Men

Janie Bryant’s formal looks for the characters of “Mad Men”

Not ready for the party to end? Stop by and see us on our social butterfly channels: FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest 

Thomas Hamel Birthday Party on Capri

Gina Lollobrigida

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Grab your Limoncello, doll, and let us tell you about internationally-known interior designer and author Thomas Hamel’s chic birthday party on the Italian isle of Capri. Talk about la dolce vita, baby.

La fête: A birthday party to celebrate Thomas’s milestone birthday. Incidentally, his debut furniture collection for Jean de Merry will be featured in the September 2014 issue of Elle Decor. Here’s a sneak peek just for you, amore.

L’ambiance: The celebration began with a garden party in Capri’s historic Gardens of Augustus followed by a boat ride to the beautiful Conca de Songa restaurant for lunch by the sea. Later, a stylish poolside supper was held at Capri’s La Scalinatella Hotel.

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Le décor: Allowing Capri’s magnificent natural beauty to set the tone, Thomas added simple, elegant and tasteful touches like large baskets filled with the same local herbs that were used in the meal. Sprigs were also used to garnish the place settings. The dinner tables were adorned simply with glass hurricanes and Capri’s famous local lemons.

Thomas Hamel

En vue: In addition to Thomas and his partner, George Massar – both such dapper gents, we spied a chic crowd of international socials from New York and Nashville to Vienna and London. They included Capri icon, Renee Myers; Australian philanthropist, Fiona Myer; Australian financier, Simon Cary and stylist, Howard Steeves; interior designer, Kate Hume; photographer and furniture designer Frans van der Heyden; interior designer, Tamsin Johnson with her husband Patrick, founder of the eponymous bespoke tailoring company; Australian television personality, Chyka Keebaugh; and Brent Wallace, founder of the chic luxury travel blog, Where’s Brent Been? 

J’adored: Given Thomas’s talent for creating perfect, well-edited environments, we were not surprised by the refined less-is-more elegance that carried seamlessly through every element of the party. We were particularly ga-ga over the invitations and the custom-made leather and canvas bags that were gifted to each guest.

Perfetto, baby. Buon compleanno, Thomas.

Introductory photo: Gina Lollobrigida in Solomon & Sheba (1959)
Introductory quote: Mae West


Madame Helvétius

3-Mme Helvetius Doll, come on in and let us tell you about a gorgeous dame who had great panache, lived life to the fullest and threw a heckuva party. Madame Helvétius was her name, but let’s call her “Minette” (which means pussycat en français) as all of her close friends did. Not only did Minette have a very successful 18th century salon – even Napoléon was a guest! – but our gal also set prominent tongues wagging across the pond by capturing the heart of one of our own Founding Fathers. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Anne-Catherine de Ligniville d’Autricourt was born in France July 23, 1722, one of 21 children of Jean-Jacques de Ligniville and his wife Charlotte de Saureau. At the relatively late age of 29, Minette married the French philosopher and poet, Claude Adrien Helvétius, who had amassed quite a fortune as a tax collector. The couple settled in the tony Paris suburb of Auteuil, and Minette began her salon, which included some of the greatest figures of the Enlightenment.

Claude HelvétiusClaude Adrien Helvétius

Among the habitués of Madame Helvétius’s salon were our old salonniere friends, Julie de Lespinasse and Suzanne Necker (both of whom you’ve met, doll), great writers like Diderot and Volney, thinkers including Condorcet, d’Holbach, Turgot and Buffon and scientists like d’Alembert, Lavoisier, Cuvier and Cabanis. It was a veritable who’s who of Paris society. Others who would drop by included politicians like Malesherbes, Talleyrand, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, who was quite the ladies man, doll, but we’ll get to that.

These salons were put on with such éclat and whimsy that it was not surprising to see in attendance all 18 of Minette’s prized Angora cats, dressed to the nines in their silk ribbons. It was also not unusual, évidemment, for Madame’s dogs and canaries to attend, because everyone should get into the salon spirit according to Minette.

Monsieur Helvétius died in 1771 after 20 years of marriage, and Minette carried on with her salons, choosing never to remarry. But our gal had no shortage of suitors. Madame was said to have been so beautiful that a 100-year-old man paid one of the most famous compliments of the era: Ah, Madame, if I were only 80 again.

AuteuilAn old postcard of Auteuil, which was also home to Victor Hugo and Molière 

In her 60s, Minette made the acquaintance of Benjamin Franklin, who was serving as the US ambassador to France, and it was not long before he became smitten. Rumor has it he even proposed marriage. They were avid letter writers and Franklin, who affectionately called our gal “Notre Dame,” wrote this to her in one of them: If Notre Dame is pleased to spend her days with Franklin, he would be just as pleased to spend his nights with her; and since he has already given her so many of his days, although he has so few left to give, she seems ungrateful in never giving him one of her nights.

4-benjamin_franklinBenjamin Franklin

Quite saucy, n’est ce pas? But not everyone succumbed to Minette’s charms. Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, was shocked by Minette’s behavior when she met her at a dinner in France following the successful negotiation of the Treaty of Paris. In correspondence, Abigail noted scathingly that our gal kissed Franklin on the cheeks and forehead when she greeted him, held his hand during dinner and occasionally threw her arm around his neck: I should have set her down for a very bad one altho 60 years of age and a widow. I own I was highly disgusted and never wish for an acquaintance with any ladies of this cast

Madame Helvétius died at Auteuil in August of 1800. But what a life she lived, doll, so full of exuberance.

Sources: Wikipedia and The Raucous Royals

Sally Award: Taylor Swift

mgid-uma-image-mtvThis week’s Sally Award for best party look of the week goes to Taylor Swift who looked dynamite in a red and blush-hued Monique Lhuillier gown at the August 11th New York premiere of The Giver. Our first two-time Sally Award winner, the super-chic Swift paired the gown, part of Lhuillier’s Resort 2015 collection, with sleek and elegant nude pumps from Casadei.

Taylor-Swift-The-Giver-New-York-PremiereSwift kept her jewelry modern and minimal with a Sylva & Cie ring and pink quartz Brumani earrings. Her flawless make up – featuring her signature black liner and red lip – and Veronica-Lake-inspired side-swept ‘do had us goo-goo eyed and proves that old Hollywood is very much alive in young Hollywood.

"The Giver" New York Premiere - ArrivalsTrès bonne, Miss Swift. Until next time.

What do you think about Taylor’s party look? Come on over to our party on Facebook and let us know, doll.

RSVP: Alexa Hampton

Alexa HamptonPull up a chair, doll. You’re just in time to meet our fabulously chic friend, Alexa Hampton, a world-renowned interior designer and the president of Mark Hampton, the design firm founded by her late father, one of the all-time great interior designers. A perennial member of Architectural Digest’s AD100 and House Beautiful‘s Top Designers list as well as a member of Elle Decor’s A-List, Alexa is also the author of two fabulous books on interior design. Talk about talent running in the family. As if that weren’t enough, Alexa, who told us she wishes she could go back in time to attend a Parisian artists’ salon in the late 1800s, was also named one of Cosmopolitan magazine’s “fun, fearless females.” Clearly, she’s our kind of dame. So, what do you say, sugar? How ’bout we raise a cold glass of red wine – we’ll explain – and listen in as our friend and designer-extraordinaire spills her secrets on everything from how to make your home a great entertaining space to her favorite dinnerware collections.

Your entertaining style?
I like lots of wine and loud laughter and not being too dressy. And I love beautiful surroundings.

Best or most memorable party you’ve ever attended?
My wedding in Greece was pretty great. Four hundred people on a cliff overlooking the Aegean with a full moon, fireworks, DJ Johnny Dynell, lots of wine and shots passed around on the dance floor. We dance the danced night away until 7:30 am.

Alexa Hampton

Alexa with her husband, Pavlos Papageorgiou 

Dream dinner partner?
My father. I’d like to see him, kiss him, hug him and tell him all about his grandchildren.

How do you stay party ready?
I always have to go out beforehand. There’s always wine at our house but, unless my guests were to want chicken noodle soup, Cheerios or egg white omelets, I’m unprepared. I’d run out for olives, hunks of Parmesan and Manchego, some Brie, rice crackers, a baguette, broccoli rabe, sausages, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, Boston Bibb lettuce and porterhouse steaks on the bone. My husband is our house chef and he is fantastic!

Best way to make your home a great entertaining space?
Have lots of chairs kicking around in corners. Beyond that, be happy. If the host is relaxed and happy, the guests always have a better time.

Alexa Hampton

Room by Alexa Hampton

Your top tip for getting your home party ready?
My best tip is to have your house look great all the time, full stop. Have candlesticks and a centerpiece of some kind permanently located on your dining table. That way you’ll be ready to go. Just grab some fresh flowers on the way home.

Best conversation piece in your home?
My husband. He is really fun and always keeps the party going…until he falls asleep, sometimes even at the dinner table. Our friends have come to expect it. At that point, I take over. I’m the night owl.

Let’s play favorites…
Color – My favorites are expanding. Blue is the longest standing one. Purple is a new fave.
Flower – Anemones
Champagne – I’m not a huge champagne person. I invariably get a headache from it. However, Veuve Cliquot is nice. I also like Krug.
Linens – Leontine Linens

Leontine Linens

Monogrammed cocktail napkins from Leontine Linens

Party food – Bread and cheese, pigs in a blanket, cheddar cheese burgers, Pasta Bolognese, cheese soufflé and caviar pie
Cocktail – Red wine on ice. Repulsive, I know, but I love it.
Dishes – Aptware. I’m also in love with Spode’s Greek and Queen Charlotte patterns.
Glassware – Baccarat Harmonie, and I love – but don’t have – Puiforcat’s silver champagne goblets

Baccarat HarmonieHarmonie by Baccarat

Party resource – Glorious Foods caterers
Comfy shoe for dancing – Prada sky-high heels are, strangely, very comfortable.
Party dress designer – Oscar de la Renta or Issa
Hostess gift – A bottle of wine or champagne.

Three party pet-peeves?
If I’ve gotten myself so stressed out that I’m sweaty
If it rains and there’s no cover
If I forgot I was going to a party on grass and I’ve worn the kind of heels that sink into the dirt

Three party must-haves?
Good company
Good music
Good food and drink

What will you wish for this year when you blow out your birthday candles?
Another year of health and happiness for my family and friends.

We’ll drink to that. Thanks, doll, for stopping by.

How to Host a Classic New England Clambake

Every one of you listening to my voice, tell the world. Tell this to everybody, wherever they are. Watch the skies, everywhere, keep looking. Keep watching the skies.

Nothing says summer like a New England-style clambake with all the traditional fixings: steamed lobsters, clams, corn on the cob and a sunset. But clambakes are also a wonderful way to entertain in the early fall. In fact, Susan Warner, the founder of Nantucket Clambake Company, a leading catering firm that has been serving up traditional New England clambakes for more than 25 years, says September is her favorite time of year for clambakes. Says Warner, “September sunsets are spectacular.” For nature’s great encore, we recommend scheduling your clambake around a full moon. Moonlight is the perfect party lighting.

Clambake under the moonClambakes have a long history in North America. It is believed that the practice was originated more than 2,000 years ago by Native American tribes in the New England area who cooked lobsters and clams in sand pits lined with seaweed and hot rocks. Passed down through the generations, the tradition continues to be an important part of our heritage, history and culture.

Winslow Homer, A Clam-BakeWinslow Homer’s A Clam-Bake, 1873 

While there is nothing as beautiful as a clambake on the beach, backyard clambakes can be just as fabulous. The key is to serve traditional fare and use seaside touches in your décor. Try nautical rope down the center of a long table, driftwood for name cards, ball jars and driftwood hurricanes for candles, linens in a sandy hue or nautical stripe and plenty of shells. Of course, it won’t hurt to have a nice glass of rosé in hand and a glorious sunset in view.

ClambakeTable for 80 by the window? No problem, darlin’. Right this way.

  • Clambake place setting
  • table – Copy
  • Clambake welcome bar
  • Lobster
  • Clams at clambake
  • Clambake menu
  • S'mores
  • Clambake under the moon

Introductory photo: Lana Turner
Introductory quote: The Thing (1953)

Clambake photos by Nate Coe for Carla McDonald

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