Entertaining and food seem to be areas of great interest to many interior and fashion designers. Perhaps it's only natural as most of these individuals have a keen sense of aesthetics. If a designer's home is his calling card, why would he or she sully the image with sloppy entertaining?
Ideas, tips, and recipes from designers abound- most of them have very definite opinions. So let's see what a few design legends have had to say on the subject. Some of the advice might seem outdated or rigid, while others might induce an "A ha!" moment.
* Elsie de Wolfe had a lot to say about entertaining. So much so that she wrote Elsie de Wolfe's Recipes for Successful Dining. de Wolfe believed that "the perfect meal is the short meal". Remember, de Wolfe wrote the book at a time when dining was a bit more elaborate than today. A few other tidbits: Never have high flower vases on your table. Keep your table decorations "low, low, low". And "Curried Veal Kidneys" is a recipe for successful dining.
* Dorothy Draper, the merriest of decorators, once wrote that a "delighted hostess is a delightful hostess" (this from Entertaining is Fun!). Dorothy had a point- who wants to be around a harried hostess? She also wrote that she never held up a dinner party for more than half an hour waiting for a tardy guest. And canned turtle soup with sherry is something that one should always have in his pantry. (Do they still make canned turtle soup?)
* Dorothy Rodgers thought (and wrote) a great deal about entertaining. The woman certainly was attuned to the details and planning of dinner parties, weekend house parties, and casual affairs. Rodgers' advice included using cloths on small tables as opposed to place mats, using matching crystal stemware, and passing crackers with the first course. Oh, "The Game", "Improbable Conversations", and "Botticelli" are all FUN parlor games, at least according to Rodgers.
* Genevieve Antoine Dariaux, the late directrice of Nina Ricci couture house, wrote all about Entertaining with Elegance. Did you know that yellow asters and orange chrysanthemums in a copper container make a chic floral arrangement? Or that Asparagus tips with a bit of mayonnaise rolled up in thinly sliced white bread makes a tasty tea sandwich? And that wine glasses should be filled one half to two-thirds full? You do now, thanks to Ms. Dariaux.
*Mark Hampton was not a fan of table linens made of polyester. He also thought one should avoid using colored candles (unless it was a Christmas celebration) as well as narcissus and lilies- too odoriferous for the dinner table.
*Bunny Williams likes to have a drinks tray set up on a table so that guests can help themselves to libations. She also uses Pepperidge Farm thin sliced bread for tea sandwiches and Duncan Hines brownies for dessert.