One thing that I cannot get out of my mind since my conversation with designer Richard Nelson (he of the 1966 Christmas party fame; click here) is the idea of serving Chinese take-out on Chinese Export porcelain. Perhaps to some of you, it's not such a novel idea, but it is to me. People of my generation and those who are younger don't collect antique porcelain anymore. A shame, really, but understandable from an economic point of view. Collecting porcelain can be expensive! And try amassing enough to serve eight to ten people at a seated dinner. It's not impossible, but let's just say it's a challenge.
Famed Southern architect Philip Shutze was a great collector who owned that stash of blue and white Canton ware at top. He treated it as his everyday china. I like to think that perhaps he ate his morning toast or grits from it. I admire the fact that he didn't treat his porcelain as too precious to use- something that I'm sure I would be guilty of. And obviously Richard Nelson didn't think his porcelain too grand to serve Peking Duck and the like. That kind of casual attitude is impressive and something that I might need to work on.
I read somewhere that the late Manhattan caterer Donald Bruce White (he's the one seated at the head of the table) used antique Coalport plates at seated dinners. You see, when you do things like this, you end up with chic dinner guests who wear their fur hats at the table.
Gloria Vanderbilt entertains with this china that was used at The Breakers in Newport. (That's Cornelius Vanderbilt II's monogram in the center.) Do you think Anderson Cooper will someday follow in his mother's footsteps and entertain with it as well?
I can only assume that Alberto Pinto actually uses his antique porcelain for dining. God knows that he has enough of it. That wasn't a criticism, simply jealousy rearing its ugly head.
Diane von Furstenberg served a baked potato and caviar on 19th c. English china. Rich...on both accounts.
(Top image from: Philip Trammell Shutze Atlanta Classicist , Connoisseur, and Collector the Story of a Collection by Rebecca Moore; #2 from Living Well by Carrie Donovan. #3 from The World of Gloria Vanderbilt by Wendy Goodman. #4 from Alberto Pinto: Table Settings. #5 from The Table by Diane von Furstenberg.)