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.