A salonniere is a party host. The term was first used to describe the women in 17th and 18th century France who hosted parties—called salons—in their homes to celebrate and promote the most important writers, philosophers, and artists of the day. Highly influential, the salonnieres, who included Madame Pompadour, among others, would select the topics to be discussed at their parties, determine the list of thinkers, politicians, aristocrats, and other influencers who would be invited to attend, and artfully lead the discussion. Conversation was the principal activity of the salon, and the goal of the salonniere, the power brokers of the day, was to keep the discourse civil enough to encouragement enlightenment for all in attendance.
Madame de Pompadour
As a result of their reach and influence, salonnieres were agents of change. Their salons are credited with having a profound effect on social, political, cultural, and literary history and fostering the modern concepts of liberty, democracy, and equality. As Sir Peter Courtney Quennell, an English writer and literary historian, wrote in Affairs of the Mind: The Salon in Europe and America from the Eighteenth to Twentieth Century, “Between conversation and civilization, the art of talk and the art of living, there has always been a vital link.”
Becca Cason Thrash
Today’s top salonnieres, members of the Salonniere 100, host “parties with a purpose” with the same passion, style, and influence as their French forbears. Whether they’re welcoming guests to support causes, advance ideas, unite people, or simply bring joy to others, the Salonniere 100 honorees are America’s most gifted and influential cultural connectors.
A scene from Auntie Mame, 1958
The Salonniere exists to honor the tradition of the French salonniere, celebrate the contributions of our modern salonnieres, celebrate the universal joy of social revelry, including the delight of planning and hosting parties, and encourage more people to embrace the art of entertaining.
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