Pop the prosecco, dolls. It’s time to toast DeJuan Stroud, author of the fabulous new entertaining book, Designing Life’s Celebrations, and one of the most sought-after event and floral designers in New York. Formerly a pinstriped Wall Streeter, DeJuan’s clients now bank on this party guru to add a wealth of fresh and fragrant style to their chic soirées. Among DeJuan’s celebrity clients are Vanessa Williams, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Donald Trump, and Dorothea and Jon Bon Jovi. Cue Bon Jovi’s “Bed of Roses”! DeJuan’s taking a moment from planning the upcoming New York Botanical Garden’s 125th Anniversary Gala to share everything from his three secrets for making a party memorable to the one celebrity he’d most like to work with and the sweet reason why. Let’s listen in…
Dorothea Bon Jovi characterizes you in the foreword to your new book as tasteful, elegant, and fun. How would you describe yourself?
You’ve designed parties for just about every notable New Yorker. Who are your favorite clients and why?
Dorothea and Jon Bon Jovi, Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan, Katie Couric, Vanessa Williams, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Anderson Cooper because they are all so, so nice.
If you could design a dinner party for anyone, who would it be and why?
Angela Lansbury because she’s my wife Debra’s favorite actress. Decorating a party for her would make Debra so happy.
I know Donald Trump is a client. What kinds of parties do you think he and Melania would host in The White House if he were to get elected?
In a word, lavish.
It’s time to get tipsy. What are your best tips for…
Making a party memorable?
Have live entertainment, serve out-of-the-ordinary food, and include lots of visual surprises, like a swing filled with flowers at a baby-naming party, a chocolate snail on a dessert buffet, or an industrial tool cart used as a drinks buffet.
Throwing the perfect dinner party?
Plan, plan, plan. Don’t leave anything to chance.
Creating a last-minute centerpiece with flowers from the grocery store?
Buy roses in one color and create several small bouquets. And, of course, add lots and lots of candlelight.
Making flowers last longer?
Change the water and recut the stems every other day, and keep the flowers out of direct sunlight.
Being a great host?
Have a generous spirit and make your guests feel welcome and comfortable. This comes with planning a party so well that you can just relax and have fun.
What’s your signature party detail?
Making sure that the lighting is perfect.
What are the major floral trends for spring and summer entertaining?
Natural, garden-style designs. For last week’s New York City Ballet Spring Gala, we filled the room with lilacs, and the centerpieces were relaxed arrangements of hybrid lisianthus, anemones, roses, and more lilacs. I’m loving the color purple right now.
What is your greatest party design victory?
We had to completely erase the interior of the Waldorf Astoria’s ballroom as well as four other large event spaces in the hotel and transform them into an entirely different environment using fabricated walls, carpet, chandeliers, furniture, flowers, and draperies. And we did it all in 15 hours.
What’s the best party that you’ve ever attended?
It’s a three-way tie: the wedding receptions of my children, Rob, Molly, and Emily.
Let’s play favorites. What’s your favorite…
Camellias in all colors.
Resource for containers?
Flea markets and antique stores. I love vintage vases.
Raynaud for a dressier table and Jered’s Pottery for casual dinners.
I love vintage glassware as well as Simon Pearce stemware.
Sferra and Le Jacquard Français
Resource for place cards?
I usually make them myself, but when I buy them, I go to John Derian.
Powder room candle?
I’m not a fan of floral candles. The one that I always keep at home is Cire Trudon’s Ernesto Scented Candle.
Powder room soap?
Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash by Aesop.
Finally, how would you describe the New York party scene?
Always looking for something new.
Well, I don’t think there’s any doubt that fresh and new definitely describes one of your magnifique soirées. Thanks, DeJuan, for stopping by and sharing your party secrets with us.
Photo sources: Emily Goodnight, Ira Lippke, Monica Buck