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Filtering by Tag: Charleston

A Tale of Two Parties (continued)

Suzanne Pollak

First, a debutante ball at the Plaza...

Two weekends later in Charleston: an over-the-top four day birthday party! Guests flew in from Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Texas, Arkansa, Alabama, New York; in other words, everywhere, because everyone loves the birthday girl. She defines Girl Power. A four day party means guests make a commitment of time, energy, dress, and money but the rewards can be life-changing — making new friends, connecting with old ones, witnessing new ways of partying, and having four days of fierce, fabulous fun. 

Bessie Mae by Jonathan Green

Bessie Mae by Jonathan Green

Party One: Thursday was the kick-off at a restaurant with swinging jazz band and three long tables for dinner. We got to know each other with the warmest welcome possible by birthday girl and husband. The vibe was very — We’ve got all weekend! An important element of any party is looking forward, but when the looking forward part starts on night one of four, that’s extra special.

Party Two: Friday night was a party split in half. A bifurcated party is brilliant, a superior & innovative way to force the maximum number of people to connect. The party was zoned for men outside by the pool, women inside the house. The birthday girls instructions were, “Ladies, tell a little about yourselves, what you do, and be brief.” 40 women opened up and we listened intently. In less than four hours, fortified with food and cocktails, we had spilled our secrets and shared our souls, cheered on by cheerleader in charge, the birthday girl herself.  

Party Three: During the day, we took boat rides for a look at our beautiful city from the water.  Then we all went to change in accordance with night time directions to wear white for a dance at the house. The party was around the pool, the band at one end, the bar at the other, line dancing all around. And the real tear jerker? When a guest took the mike and proposed to his love... 

(My only regret was that I left too early. Why did I do that?)

Party Four: On Sunday morning, we went to a gospel brunch at new Charleston restaurant Blue Note. Now the focus shifted to the men since this was also Father’s Day. Goodbye’s were said, selfies taken, plans made for next meetings. 

What all these different parties had in common were hosts who are masters at making unforgettable events, connections, celebrations, and making sure everyone around them feels welcome & joyful. My take away? I have the greatest friends in the world and it is never too late to add more deep friendships to a life. In fact, you must. It’s what makes life worth living. 

TRADE SECRETS

  • Fancy parties and comfort food go together. The food brings the fanciness down a few notches and gives people a feeling of social ease.

  • Document your parties, but not with cell phones! If guests are taking photos, they are not enjoying the minute-by-minute fun that is happening all around. Hire a photographer (or even a niece) because we all know the photos bring pleasure for the rest of our lives.

  • Mix ages, professions, styles — just mix! More brains working together make smarter decisions; more personalities at parties mean extra energy, excitement, entertainment...

  • Follow your instincts & be bold. There is no reason not to follow your heart, honor your creativity, and explore new ideas. 

  • Three or four days is a super party plan; a commitment, sure, but a life memory. A several days-long party is a gift of joy spread out over time, with opportunity to make real conversations, new friends, enjoy a mini vacation. In addition, there is the built-in anticipation…

  • Often overlooked but equally important as the anticipation beforehand are the memories afterwards. To maximize the before and after impact, send invitations (way ahead for more days of something delightful to look forward to) and then send photos afterwards, even in a holiday card months later!

  • At a four day party, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask guests to pick up their own checks when ordering from a restaurant menu. In fact, it’s a good idea. At the four day birthday bash guests paid their own tabs at the bookend events, Thursday night and Sunday brunch. Friday and Saturday were held at the host’s house so everything there was covered, of course.

"An Enlightened Affair" for VIE Magazine

Suzanne Pollak

Behold, the Charleston Library Society, home of many a salon...

Behold, the Charleston Library Society, home of many a salon...

The Dean is no stranger to a proper literary salon, having grown up in a diplomatic family who regularly entertained such events at their African home. To this day, she continues the tradition as director of the Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival, held annually at the local Library Society. Learn more about Suzanne's love of salons, her post and the impressive roster at this year's C2C (plus how to attend) in the latest issue of VIE Magazine: HERE.

"The Romance of Outdoor Rooms" for VIE

Suzanne Pollak

Photo courtesy of G. P. Schafer

Photo courtesy of G. P. Schafer

Summertime is finally here again! In Charleston, this means lots of lounging in the shade of our (or our friends') porches and piazzas, iced beverage in hand, fresh off a dip in the sea. For the June issue of VIE magazine, Suzanne reflects on a life lived in outdoor rooms, from Tripoli to Ghana to the Carolinas, and the magic of bells, birds, and blue skies experienced in these inspiring spaces.

Read the full article HERE on VIE's site... 

Q&A with Dierdre Zahl, Owner of Candy Shop Vintage

Suzanne Pollak

D.jpg

Q: What is your personal style? At home, for parties, in the store?

A: My personal style is feminine with an edge. I like girly details, like peplum or bishop sleeves. I love wearing heels, skirts and stockings, but I always like at least one bold print or accessory -- usually in the form of statement jewelry!

Has your (personal and house) style changed since you were single versus now as a mom?

I would say that in my early twenties, living in NYC with musicians on the Lower East Side, my style was definitely edgier, more rock and roll. Lot's of cut T-shirts and ripped denim. In my late twenties, after I got married and moved to Charleston, I softened my look a lot with more feminine cuts like peplum sleeves and flared skirts but always with a bit of an edge, usually in the form of statement jewelry! Since becoming a Mom, my style has remained pretty consistent. I like to dress up and since I own a shop, I definitely have to put some thought into my outfits as I can't just roll out of bed and sell jewelry. My daughter has really picked up her own strong sense of stye too; she likes to pic out all her own clothes and is very opinionated!

How do you accessorize for parties? A dinner party at your house? Going to a restaurant? 

Cocktail party: a fun party dress, big earrings and heels. A dinner party at home: leggings, heels and a silk blouse with some Charleston Rice Beads and red lipstick. Dinner out: a skirt with maybe a bodysuit and cute blazer or fitted jacket and stacks of bangles plus a fun purse.

Any go-to necklaces, earrings, shoes, your mother's or grandmother's pieces? 

I usually wear a piece of Candy Shop Vintage, often a Charleston Rice Bead bracelet wrapped multiple times around my wrist. I have some very cool vintage earrings in a few styles by MAM', a designer from Texas who used to make fun, colorful statement earrings out of resin-coated paper. They are very lightweight, but big and whimsical. I also have these great woven palm tree earrings by Mercedes Salzar, a Columbian jewelry designer who is just incredible.

Favorite source of inspiration? A person? A place? In Charleston? 

Daphne Guinness is definitely my ultimate style icon. She is so elegant, so edgy, so high fashion but still soft and feminine and very unique. I love following Beyoncé's Instagram account. Her outfits are so on point and of course I look to a lot of vintage clothing, jewelry and home accessories for design inspiration.

Store_2.jpg

Do spouses come to the store for Valentine gifts/ideas? What do you recommend? 

We get a lot of spouses very close to the holidays. Usually they are last-minute buyers. I usually recommend the Charleston Rice Beads because they are always a crowd pleaser. We have them in a wonderful Kelly Green and light pink this spring -- perfect for Valentine's Day! We actually did the light pink a number of years ago and brought it back.

Favorite hostess gifts? For parties, or as a house guest? What do you like to receive? 

I always love candles as a hostess gift, or a bottle of wine. We have some great embroidered cocktail napkins in the shop and of course, your Handbook is always a wonderful gift for a hostess. We can hardly keep them in stock!

Porch Love

Suzanne Pollak

(Photos courtesy of  G. P. Schafer )

(Photos courtesy of G. P. Schafer)

Charleston’s single and double porches have long been synonymous with hospitality. We entertain on our piazzas all year long because temperate climate offers a type of living not available in many urban environments.  These are special spaces to watch clouds move across the sky, birds fly in formation or snap to attention on a telephone wire...all while protecting us from a sudden rainstorm or blazing sun.

On a windy Winter afternoon, there is no better place to sit with a loved one, wrapped in a blanket while sipping smokey Hu-kwa tea sweetened with honey from the bees in the backyard. In Summer, the porch ceiling fan must whirl full speed and ice buckets stay filled with large cubes for the five o'clock cocktail hour, when bourbon and drops of bitters aid in watching the sun set and moon rise.

Communication is different on porches, upstairs and down. Why? Spaces effect people's behavior. On a ground floor porch, one converses with street walkers and neighbors across the garden, or possibly meets a passing stranger who might transform her life. Elevated porches are a different environment altogether: exotic, hidden, perfect for private uninterrupted conversations -- honest, vulnerable, and open -- a place to forge a deep connection. 

Outdoor rooms and fresh air make people looser and more able to talk freely, telling truths comfortably. People behave and think a certain way in an interior room and often say what they’ve said before. Four interior walls may hem one in physiologically. Outside, it’s easier to say things you have never said, perhaps even startling yourself.  

Spending a good portion of the day on a porch can make you feel differently too. Porch life is less chaotic, fresh air calms. And though you might sit on the porch all day, you won’t feel cooped up. The porch becomes your own little cocoon. A porch is a cozy room, an outside room, a safe sanctuary. Long Live the Piazzas!

No More Excuses

Lee Manigault

Haute To Go, Holly G.-style. 1961.

Haute To Go, Holly G.-style. 1961.

The Charleston Wine & Food fest begins today! In the midst of all action, the Charleston Academy has found ways to celebrate our loved local chefs from the comfort of home.

In the space of 20 hours, the Dean once attended two totally different parties with a single brilliant solution: takeout food that went far beyond just calling for a pizza.  At one, the host was expecting a James Beard award-winning chef and called the Academy all aquiver about what to serve.  We had an immediate answer, not only innovative but it was also humorous. We told her to order the entire meal from one of the OTHER James Beard Award-winning chefs in town's restaurant. This would keep everyone on their toes while the hostess received all the credit (and all she had to do was make a phone call.)  We realize this is a very expensive dinner party, but it is one that also astounds with its originality and cheekiness.  

The other event benefited from takeout, but for a totally different reason.  Anybody with toddlers knows that taking them to restaurants results in a huge bill and not one moment of peace.  Even the Dean gets tired of cooking but never of seeing her favorite people; so if toddlers are part of the event, even if there is just one, then at-home entertaining is a must.  You can put your toddler down for a nap and enjoy your guests because the food is taken care of.  One partner can go get the food while the other puts out the plates, silverware and napkins.  When the guests arrive, down goes Jr. and the party begins! 

Most restaurants that serve food will let you order and take it home with you.  Pizza is delicious, no question, and there will always be a time and place for Chinese food, but don't limit yourself to these old war horses.  Charleston has a variety of local favorite options to choose from: Artisan Meat Share, goat.sheep.cow, Ted's Butcher Shop, Butcher & Bee, Chick's Fry House, plus most of the finer dining restaurants in town (if you call, perhaps not at the last minute or at the height of an 8PM dinner rush, and ask nicely.) 

The show must go on, folks, even when you don't feel like cooking or going out at all. The Academy eliminates that option with a friendly reminder that Charleston's world-class chefs and restaurants are always just a moment away.

 

This Thursday: Double Up on Design Classes!

Suzanne Pollak

Lest anyone think the Academy is all about learning how to cook dinner and set the table...on Thursday we bring in Flowershop to teach the art of arranging flowers in the morning, and Charleston Interior Stylist to show us the ins & outs of home design in the evening.

                         Portrait of Lily Peterson by  Olivia Rae James .

                         Portrait of Lily Peterson by Olivia Rae James.

FLORALS WORKSHOP: The Basics with Lily Peterson, Flowershop

It’s easy to lose confidence when shoving flowers and greens into a centerpiece. These stems don’t do what you want them to, if you even know what you want. This is one of those jobs that looks easy, but with anything that looks easy, it’s not. However, with just a little handholding from expert Lily Peterson, your own flower expertise will emerge and stay embedded within your brain, giving you a life long skill, with you leaving class owning a new cool container to be expertly filled at a moments notice by a new expert -- YOU!

STYLE + ORDER with Charleston Interior Stylist

Nathalie Naylor is our favorite kind of Interior Designer. Her approach is completely different than most designers, more financially friendly and instructional. Natalie curates your stuff, items you bought and collected and liked, or thought you liked (you must have attached value at one time to these objects.) Nathalie reworks what you already own to make your interiors more beautiful, organized and livable, without you having to buy any anything new -- furniture, curtains, rugs, art. Nathalie is not imposing her taste on yours; she is gently guiding yours. What a democratic and practical way to improve interiors!

Bring one or many photos of your space to class (at Nathalie's house on Sullivan's Island), enjoy Sancerre and snacks, and let Nathalie give recommendations…just look at Nathalie’s her magazine covers!

There are still a couple of tickets available over on our SHOP -- purchase one for yourself or gift to a friend.  Pick one or make a day of it.  Either way, don't miss out!

 

 

 

CHEESY RICE! & A Post-Joaquin Dispatch from Lake City

A. K. Lister

AK here, writing from a hotel room at the Inn at the Crossroads, which just happens to be the grandest hotel Lake City SC has to offer.  My boyfriend and I found ourselves stuck here last night in a foolhardy attempt to get home from a mini-vacation in the mountains over the weekend.  While driving through the thick of the storm, we were re-routed from the main stretch/I-95 to local highways, large parts of which are still underwater today.

The sight of houses and cars ruined by unprecedented rainfall along the way made us all the more grateful to arrive in Lake City and eventually (after calling a friend in Charleston who knew someone who knew someone else here) find a place to lay our heads.  We have since been counting our blessings -- our apartment on the third floor of a two-centuries-old Charleston house undamaged, our belongings accounted for, our friends and families safe.  But we are still desperate to be cozy at home.

Once we find ourselves back, we will no doubt be hankering for a homemade meal of the most comforting kind.  But, thanks to the houseguests who occupied the apt. in our absence, I expect our pantry is likely to be stripped down to the bare minimum.  If cabin fever is setting in & making do with whatever is left over sounds like a situation you can identify with, then here is what we'll both be having for dinner:

In aside...absolutely NO judgement if you are face-to-face with a bag of Uncle Ben's, but if you have any say in the matter, go Gold.

Finally, on behalf of the CADP, stay safe out there!  As we make our way back to Charleston -- which probably still looks more like Venice than it probably should -- we keep all those in SC who have lost people they love and places they call home in our hearts today.

X AK