As the founder and creative director of event and interiors collective, Houses & Parties, Rebecca Gardner knows how to put on soirées that are as cheeky and fun as they are awe-strikingly beautiful. Based in Savannah, Georgia, and New York City, Rebecca has put on some of the prettiest parties to ever grace your Instagram feed. In that, we were thrilled when Rebecca tapped us to provide Land of Belle glassware for a set of dinner parties she designed at The Chatwal Hotel for Marriott International's luxury hotel groups. We sat down with the designer to learn more about the event, her entertaining favorites, and greatest sources of inspiration.
Tell us about the MILUX event.
The Marriott International Luxury Brands include The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Bulgari Hotels and the Luxury Collection. The MILUX hotel leaders hosted this intimate dinner for press to celebrate the developments of 2019.
Describe the venue, decor, menu, tablescapes, and mood of the evening.
The dinner took place in the Stanford White Studio upstairs at the Chatwal Hotel. This Historic Landmark room has beautiful paneling, loads of bookshelves and a cozy fireplace which was a great start for our dinner “at home.” We layered antique oriental rugs on the floor, used green velvet sofas for seating and filled the room with a explosion of flowering branches. The Herend china is quite grown-up so we chose Annabelle’s Murano tumblers to play with pattern and bring a bohemian breeze. The Sabre bamboo flatware is one of our staples. It offers fine things a little youth.
What was your jumping off point for inspiration for this event?
In the spirit of Mario Buatta, this party started with a hundred yards of Lee Jofa chintz. We put it on the tables, the chair cushions, the ruffled throw pillows and the shades of little table lamps. The repetition packed a punch.
What key elements do you generally work with to bring your vision for the event to life?
I like dressy parties with many layers of detail and romantic light. Guests walk in knowing that the evening is a treat - a gift from the host. However, there is nothing worse than fussy and boring. I insist on a little mischief. Do you see the collection of tiny porcelain figurines that peek from behind floppy poppies? They are weird and wonderful.
Any secrets to perfecting the art of a festive tablescape?
The perfect tablescape has lots of color, texture and pattern. The flowers smell good. The lighting makes you look beautiful. There is something fancy, something casual and something surprising.
Any aspects of an event that are often over-looked and shouldn't be?
You can go on forever with decor, but the most important part of the party is the guests. Be thoughtful with your guest list and included different ages, backgrounds and interests. It’s far more fun. Take the time to introduce strangers, be thoughtful about seating and distribute the “screaming blasts” evenly around tables.
Describe your aesthetic in five words or less.
Colors or neutrals. If colors, which colors do you often find yourself gravitating towards?
Pink, red and pink. They are the most flattering and festive.
If you could tap anyone, living or dead, to design your home, who would it be?
I dream (often - day and night) that Jeffrey Bilhuber designs my house with furniture from W. Gardner Ltd Antiques.
If you could plan an event for anyone, living or dead, what kind of event would it be and who for?
Cleopatra. She recognized the power in a party and had magnificent budgets.
What's a place you've visited that has most inspired your event planning or home decor?
Venice is a constant source of inspiration - the colors are rich, the food is delicious and there is an unleashed appetite for decadence.
Name your three favorite hotels.
Hotel Duc de Saint Simon in Paris
The Gritti Palace in Venice
The Capri in Marfa, Texas
Where are you traveling next?
I leave Friday to see the California Gray Whale migration off the coast of Mexico. I have no idea what to expect except adventure and margaritas.
What destination is on the top of your travel wishlist?
I am dying to explore India, her great temples and neon colors.
Any go-to hors d'oeuvres you like to serve when entertaining?
Every occasion and every crowd calls for pigs-in-a-blanket on a silver tray. They’re a little tacky, indulgent and unexpected.
What are 2-3 key ingredients to a successful dinner party?
Give us a few recommendations for your favorite caterers or florists. Where are they based?
Emily Thompson did the flowers for the MILUX dinner. She is an unbridled dreamer and consummate professional. We often collaborate. Taylor at Fox Fodder Farm is a fabulously talented florist. I love her wild and luscious approach. She’s never afraid to do crazy. Peter Callahan is the best caterer in New York. He is excruciatingly detailed and demands excellence. My parties are safe in his hands.
What songs, artists, or genres are on your go-to playlist for a get-together at home?
Oh, I’m so predictable when it comes to music. Pink Martini is for everything from cocktails to laundry. Bobby Darin can start a party and Dr. Dre can keep it going.
Any favorite candles to burn when entertaining?
I’m not a fan of scented candles during parties. The smells mix with food and it can be offensive. At home, Kate Brodsky’s KRB candle wins all awards. It is perky and smells like freshly cut greens.
Any favorite wines or cocktails to serve at home or bring to a dinner?
A strong, classic Old Fashioned makes everyone dance like Patrick Swayze. Otherwise, I like to pass drinks that looks good in a champagne coupe.
Any dinner guest pet peeves?
If you say you're coming - show up.
What's your go-to hostess gift?
A bottle of quality champagne is an elegant hostess gift but nothing is more gracious than a handwritten note.
Do you collect anything?
I have a collection of insect tremblant brooches and I’m always looking for just one more. My prize is a 1930s emerald dragonfly - his wings move when I laugh and he’s magic.
What event design "rule" is made to be broken?
Know the rules before you break them.
What Instagram accounts do you follow for inspiration?
@happymenocalstudio for delight
@wgardner51 for treasures
@nickolsenstyle for color
@modaoperandi for clothes
@courtlandandco for linens
@petercopping for beauty
What's your favorite aspect of playing host?
Being in control. Just kidding.
The quintessential host always...
...pretends to be calm and makes sure everyone has a lively
conversation and a full drink.