Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Heathers Lunch..…

I think within inner circles of friends, there are always further inner circles that form within those groups of people who have another level of shared interest and more importantly personality traits.  Recently, I hosted our monthly, roaming, “Heathers Lunch”.   It is meant to be a haven, a forum of honesty & where “The Heathers” may be themselves.  What that is you might wonder, is simple: The Consummate Queen Bee, of course.  All “Heathers” are always the dominant force of their independent circle of friends. They are the ones who inspire, organize, encourage and set the tone and the pace for the social life of its groups.    


My inspiration for the luncheon was a spring day, after a croquet match in one of the many beautiful squares around the Garden.









The hot topic of the moment:  Who are these crazy creatures bouncing around town, attending everything open to the masses, and at times, if tipped off at the very last second, even private parties? They simply have never been introduced to shame or self awareness. They do not know what social grace taste like nor are they interested in being human.  They are content to saddle up to anyone, whom they have just met at one of those many horrid events “sponsored” (they have no concept of what “hosting” is) by “social organizations” that exist all over the Garden and invite themselves to go anywhere their “new friends” are going.  These organizations are meant to serve as training ground for the young professional set to learn how to properly behave in public and perhaps one day join La Sociedad at large. 

But in truth at these events, apparently no one understands the concept of mingling, the art of conversation, or what manners look like. They are only too concerned with preening, drinking as much of the free drink at hand and most importantly speaking only to familiar faces in small groups. Never making eye contact or engaging anyone unknown! (have you ever???) It is in these settings that people with otherwise potential to excel morph into the likes of these creazy creatures.   So dahhlings, if ever caught at one of these “social organization” events (you poor dear!), remember “doing as the Romans do” is not always the right approach and it will only lead you to a frightening encounter with these creatures or worse to become one!

All Heathers face the challenges of lack of FAB new people with exquisite manners and social grace to add to the lists and, boredom of course! But go on in spite of them, always inspiring others and showing them the more elegant options that exist to live by.  In this day and age it is only too easy to wish a “Two Slice Hilly” on all Heathers, but it is harder to do what we do, or better yet, to do without it! Are you a “Heather” dahhling?
Until soonest….

HRH
The Duchess of State

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Chocolat story…

Most people say: “Who doesn’t love Chocolat?”, well dahhling, I would be one of them. I have never really cared for it, outside of a hand mixed frothy Mexican hot chocolate (done so with an authentic molinillo, of course!) But never really for any of the usual chocolates.  I prefer vanilla or strawberry flavors, this was until I met the most talented Chocolatier in our Garden & beyond: “Chocolat by Adam Turoni”  (www.chocolatat.com) and one of the best kept secrets of every hostess, event planner & luxury anything in the Garden.  

Photo by L. Lewin

I have never tasted something so FAB & addictive as his hand made artisan Chocolat truffles are.  His creations are as endless as his flavor combinations: Champagne/Vanilla, a Bee Hive with a center of local organic honey topped with nut pieces, white/dark chocolate dipped strawberries dressed in tuxedos with buttons & ties!, hazelnut cream filled cylinders, peanut butter cups with sea salt (and he makes his own peanut butter to boot!), edible silver leafed dark chocolate bark with almonds (how exquisite, ¿no?), passion fruit bars, dahhhling, I could go on & on… believe me, I have tasted ALL of them! Simply superb!  Once you have had the pleasure of tasting freshly made Chocolat by Adan Turoni, everything else taste, well, like wax! Godiva and the rest! I have been taught, by this Chocolatier extraordinaire, that his truffles will only stay fresh for a month! Compare that to the “boxed” things you know with a shelf life of over 6 months! ¡Ah Dios mío, NO!

So it was just dehhvine when the very talented “Adan” (Adam to the rest of you!) asked me to design the Interior of his Chocolat Boutique.   His inspiration for his whimsical designs, I soon learned, are none other than the Queen of FAB extravagance: Marie Antoinette. 

With this in mind I soon devised a plan to give his, otherwise, very industrial space some much needed “drama” worthy of the interiors of a folly on the grounds of the Petit Trianon and a visit from the local Noblesse. A Chocolat Boutique, where he could feel inspired and that would elevate (if such thing is possible) and serve as a befitting background to his delicious creations.

Here are my Interiors:

Photo by L. Lewin
Photo by L. Lewin

Photo by L. Lewin





Photo by L. Lewin




Foto by L. Lewin

Until soonest…

HRH
The Duchess of State

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Marquesa de Wolfe

One of my dearest friends in the Garden, is the magnificent Marquesa de Wolfe.
The first time we met, was shortly after her arrival to The Garden, from far flung places and beyond, at the entrée de rigueur in The Garden: “An Afternoon Cocktail”.  She had captured the eye of a discerning member of La Sociedad who had promptly invited her to attend that afternoon’s delights.  She was exquisitely coiffed & dressed in black and white with a beautiful collar of natural pearls.  We were like to Royal Tarantulas in a very small box!  Identical, but ever so cautious.  Soon after that evening, as I always do when someone is interesting to me, I inquired on the Marquesa’s address and promptly dispatched a royal note in which I expressed my disappointment at not having the opportunity during the Afternoon Cocktail  to get to know her and thus I enclosed an invitation to our upcoming Annual New Year’s Black Tie Masquerade.  During the fête I made it a point to have ample private time to get to know her.  And so, ever since she has been one of my favorites & dearest friends.   Remember Dahhling, never pass up the opportunity to extend an invitation to anyone who peaks your interest and explore the opportunity to discover yourself through someone new. I shall never understand people who claim shyness regarding approaching a new person.. what bohhhres!


The Marquesa de Wolfe, has the most exquisite taste and is a true believer in living everyday with elegance and sophistication.  I ask you, is there any other way? Really?  Should I describe her as classically beautiful, the definition of a member of the 19th Century Paris, London & New York Café Society, Cultivated, world traveler, who grew up in a flurry of equestrian competitions and prep schools,  it would only cover what is obvious to anyone who meets her, but to those of us who have the honor to know her, she is so much more. She is a wondrous human being, a loyal friend with an uncanny sense of humor, a romantic, a woman who had the starting role of an independent art film to support art but is not an actress, a driven woman who founded companies, ruled Wall Street and who’s hunger for knowledge has lead her to pursuit many a professional interest.  This of course, without even mentioning her unquestioned position at the top of the Noblesse Blue!

Earlier this year, I celebrated her birthday, through my usual love for setting a beautiful table as a stage for celebrating those I ahhdore. This time it was to be a very formal affair: Black Tie Dinner.  To ensure the evening would be a great success I focused on inviting only those that the Marquesa knew well and absolutely enjoyed (unlike me.  I simply ahhhdore using my birthday annual cocktail parties to invite as many new people, many whom I have never tried out yet!).  Included in the guest list, after weeks of coordination, were a couple flying in from New York the very day to attend the festivities as an additional surprise.  For formal sit down dinners keep the menu simple and never have pre-dinner cocktails last longer than an hour and a half or more than two drinks per guest.  You never want your guests not to be “alert” during the conversations over dinner.  Once all guest have been seated, anyone running late that did not arrive by then, simply is not to be admitted at all (so don’t bother to ring).  Standards must be kept, after all it is a sit down dinner and invitations were mailed a week in advance ¿no?











Until soonest dahhhlings…

HRH
The Duchess of State

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Royal birthday lunch


This week we celebrated the Royal birthday of one of my closest & dearest friends, La Condesa.  In her honor of course I organized a little luncheon.  In more than one occasion, leading up to any one my soirees, I have had people phoning to request permission for people who were not directly invited by me and what is worse,  generally are persons whom I already know.  It never seems to occur to both the guest making such (an absurd) request or the person trying to get invited through them, that had I wanted them to be in attendance I would had summoned them as well ¿no? After all I do know them already! (How much dignity must be lost before such a person calls around guests at the whiff of an event, in an attempt at being included to something they obviously were not wanted?) I find that many people don’t understand that to me, an invitation to any of my events is out of interest to get to know someone or because we are already in the process of building a friendship.  Now mind you, I do keep a Black List (Not to be confused with “The Red” comprised soley of "the walking dead" or “La Sociedad” lists), containing names for the “Fillers” as I define them, that I include to larger cocktail parties only.  These are those people we all have lying around like pennies, not of much seeming use, except for the one time you need them.  Having said this however, they are useful & have their specific talent. Good conversationalist, can manage basic instructions, tend to be very reliable in attending if there is drink & food present and above all help in keeping the mix of people fresh.  They are also the group from which one would select a last minute “filler” from, when a day before a sit down dinner party is to take place, one of your invited guest has an unexpected emergency & is unable to keep their social obligation (which for me there are only a handful of acceptable reasons:  death, kidnappings or a runny nose among them.  I mean really!)  After all, “fillers” never seem to object at rarely receiving any actual beautiful physical invitations.  A phone call the day off the event will do for them.

Special occasions such as birthday lunches/dinners/cocktails are there for, in my world, my own personal way to say: “I ahhhdore you, mon ami”.  An opportunity to celebrate, what knowing each other means to me.  If others ahhdore you as I do, then let them show it by hosting their own FAB event in your honor and stop trying to share in mine!  So I have learned, that in this Garden to ensure you will not receive, such ridiculous requests, one must always include at the end of the invitation “ – No Guest Please – “.  Thus far, it has worked, but I will keep you posted (You would be shocked at the alarming long list of such incidents…the stories I could tell you!)

But moving to more FAB topics, like my ultra Chic dear friend, La Condesa, she is one of a kind. A woman I most admire for her infallible spirit, her keen sense of sophisticated personal style of an era long gone, her witty sharp mind and the wondrous manner in which she has lived her life full of adventure.  She is a consummate creative perfectionist who has a natural eye for the art of photography & capturing with poetic written words the nuances of life.
La Condesa grew up fox hunting in the horse country of the old world of Virginia.  Attended university in France & lived in Barcelona, Paris and on a beautifully restored yacht docked in Manhattan.  She met & fell in love with the wonderful El Conde (whose grandfather was the master of guard of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and whose mother Doña Teresa,  grew up as a lady in waiting to Queen Victoria Eugenia, pre Franco displacement of course!) and somehow, found her way to our little Garden.  Notwithstanding her upbringing, La Condesa, is one of the most Spanish ladies I know.  Her essence if of full Spanish blood. Noblesse blue, of course!

Taking this into consideration I organized a lunch in which this point would be celebrated.  All guests were pre-organized, by careful instruction and “subtle guidance” into attending as a well known Spaniards. This gave the luncheon both its theme and set the tone.  Instead of place cards, as I normally use, I opted for a small image of each of the attendees in their new chosen roles.  Each guest had to be prepared to discuss the reason for their choice & how it celebrated our guest of honor, La Condesa.











Can you think of a more elegant way to celebrate and show your appreciation for what a friend adds to your life? Believe me dahhhling, you will be hard press to do so…
Until soonest…

HRH
The Duchess of State

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Summer Veranda…


Recently the kind people at Garden & Gun Magazine, awarded my design for the Veranda I decorated a few years ago for my dear friend, the Marquesa de Wolfe, the winning title of “The best Screen Porch” (http://gardenandgun.com/blog/winning-screen-porch).  I decorated all three floors of the Marquesa de Wolfe’s house and it has always remained one of my favorite projects. 

I drew inspiration from the dehhvine drama of the Delano Hotel in South Beach, with the flowing massive sheers throughout the 40ft lobby but distilled the look to the needs and style of the Marquesa.  Noblesse oblige, classic chic. ¡Obvio!

Here are the rest of the fotos of this FAB Veranda, or as the good people at Garden & Gun Magazine call it, “The Porch”.  I trust it will inspire you dahhhling to have a little tea, an afternoon cocktail or a brunch on a Sunday.








Until soonest…

HRH
The Duchess of State
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