Monday, August 15, 2011

Françoise de la Renta on Entertaining

In the January 1982 issue of House & Garden, the late Françoise de la Renta wrote a very charming article on entertaining. In it, she mentioned that she loved to host teas, though she also wrote that if she hosted dinner parties, she usually did so two nights in a row. That way, flowers and wine did not go to waste and leftovers could be incorporated into the second dinner's menu. And, she felt that crowded tables of 12 helped to spark conversation. Very practical and sage advice indeed.

But practicality aside, de la Renta really nailed it, so to speak, when she wrote about the essence of entertaining. "Abundance- abundance of fruit, wine, bread, intelligent conversation, laughter- is the essence of a wonderful party." And "My dining room is my theater. I've invited with great care and I seat my actors the way I think they will enjoy themselves the most." With sentiments like that, it's no wonder that de la Renta was considered to be one of New York's most thoughtful and elegant hostesses.

At de la Renta's Manhattan apartment, a Russian tea inspired by those of composer and author Nicolas Nabokov's childhood. Treats included black, gray, sweet and sour, and golden brioche breads.

A blue and white place setting at de la Renta's dining table.

Outdoor dining at the de la Rentas' Santo Domingo house. The terracotta plates, glasses, and pitchers are perfect for the outdoors.

A smaller table at Santo Domingo set for an intimate dinner.

All images from House & Garden, January 1982.


  1. Jennifer Dengel9:38 AM

    Jennifer, you are so right about Francoise nailing the essence of entertaining! I loved the part about laughter--music to my ears!!!

  2. jennifer - i so enjoyed this post - i have always thought of the de la renta home at the sight of blue and white ikat and am so interested to see their entertaining in action - i, too, entertain back-to-back as i am able and must add to the list of things that go to waste otherwise - a superclean house!

  3. Grace and Jennifer- so glad you like the post. And yes, if you're going to kill yourself cleaning the house for one dinner, you might as well as host two in a row!

  4. Definitely something that I will take in for the future--this back to backedness. And yes, abundance, I have seen will loosen up a crowd--they have no fears of not having enough, they know that they are being well cared for! Of course, for those of us that do NOT have considerable budgets, the trick is in the choice and in copious cooking as well. :)

  5. I agree with the idea of doing the dinner parties back to back. I am just afraid my friends would think there was an A-list, and a B-list. However, the very pretty tables are completely timeless.

  6. Anonymous8:43 PM

    Another sensational post! You cover all the things/people I admire.
    Have been thinking of Francoise De La Renta recently. That lady was the hight of chic.

    She looks so timeless in that photo & of course her advice is golden.