Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Entertaining with Isabelle d'Ornano

One of my favorite books on entertaining is my 1968 issue of Town & Country's Entertaining Ideas by Famous International Hostesses. I admit that what first caught my eye was the cover, one that was reminiscent of Florentine paper. And I should clarify that it's not really a book, either. I assume that it was a supplement to the magazine. There are no recipes in the issue, but that's fine by me because it is filled with glamour shots of stylish, social women from New York, Paris, Madrid, and Beirut. Each one was asked for her tips and thoughts on entertaining, and while some of their advice is a little dated, much of it still seems germane.

It recently dawned on me that two of the featured hostesses, sisters-in-law Comtesse Hubert d'Ornano and Comtesse Michel d'Ornano (their husbands founded the Orlane skincare line and later Sisley), also made appearances in Nan Kempner's
R.S.V.P.: Menus for Entertaining from People Who Really Know How. I thought it would be interesting to see how the women's styles of entertaining changed in thirty years.

So, first up is Comtesse Hubert d'Ornano. In the T&C supplement, the Polish-born Isabelle mentioned that despite the fact that she had chefs in both her Paris and country homes, she herself liked to cook "Polish specialties, borsch, blinis with caviar, or smoked salmon." Her attention, though, was lavished on the shooting weekends that she and her husband hosted. "Friday, an informal dinner. Lunch Saturday at the shooting lodge...During the shoot if it's cold, hot wine and consomme are served. Saturday night's a black-tie dinner, music and cards after. Sunday's breakfast-lunch is in the shooting lodge: eggs, mixed grill with wild rice, local cheese, une tarte pruneau with fresh cream. 'We shoot all day, return to the lodge for high tea at 6pm. Meanwhile the luggage has been prepared and put into the guests' cars so that they can leave directly after tea.'"

Shooting must be quite important to Isabelle and Hubert as Kempner's book also features a shooting weekend chez d'Ornano circa 2000. This time, the hunting lunch included bull shots (this was one of Kempner's favorite cocktails, so I wonder if this was served in her honor?) and a buffet of dishes like moussaka, truffled scrambled eggs en croûte, and pizza à la d'Ornano. Afternoon shooting was followed by tea just as it was thirty years earlier. But Kempner wrote that while the weekend's festivities were traditional, that "does not mean formal." Dinner, just as lunch, was also served buffet style. It sounds as though d'Ornano's style of entertaining has loosened up over the years, just as I think it has for most of us.

Up tomorrow- Anne d'Ornano.

La Renaudière, the six thousand acre Loire Valley estate that d'Ornano and her husband call home.

A post shooting celebration.

Truffled scrambled eggs en croûte.

A patchwork guest room.

An after dinner game of cards has stood the test of time.

One of my very favorite photos of Nan Kempner!

d'Ornano color photos from R.S.V.P.: Menus for Entertaining from People Who Really Know How by Nan Kempner, Quentin Bacon photographer.


  1. Oh, I'm into this! Great post and can't wait for tomorrow!

  2. The patchwork bedroom is superb! I know it's the cameral lens that makes all the difference as does the dramatic lighting from the low window on the right. Beautiful room.

  3. I'd love to be at one of those gatherings. I think proper entertaining is so nice and love the peek back at these stylish settings. Nan Kemper always did it right!

  4. Jennifer I adore that image of Nan Kemper!! Can you attending these events!

    Art by Karena

    Last day to enter my exciting Giveaway from the Artisans at Novica!

  5. The best part to me is that the bags are packed for you and put into the car. The worst part of a trip is the packing and unpacking!

  6. Fabulous either way, but I do love the idea of a black tie dinner at a shooting weekend in the French (or English) countryside. The d'Ornanos, especially Isabelle, is another stylemaker that I've been fascinated with over the years - Gaye did a piece about theirs and their daughter's homes a while back. And it was too funny because I had had the nearly identical post planned!! Looking forward to tomorrow.

  7. Fascinating! truly an era gone by - love your posts!

  8. LOVE. I wanted to have a shooting party for my last birthday but was on bed rest with baby #2 (actually, we were snowed in, as well!). Will have to note some tips for next year.

    The design of the cover is fabulous. I think a reissue is in order.

  9. Just getting a chance to look at this. Oh heaven! having my bags packed and put in my car. Happy Wednesday.xxpeggybraswelldesign.com