Friday, September 30, 2011

Emily's Fashionable Fete

For me, Bar and Bat Mitzvah design is always a unique challenge. It involves balancing the needs and desires of both an adult and a teenage client, and, more importantly, it usually involves convincing someone that a party with a theme need not have either foam core centerpieces or anything that lights up and flashes. This lovely New York City Bat Mitzvah at the Central Park Boathouse was no different, however it didn't take too much negotiation to get both the parents and the Bat Mitzvah girl on board with a unique twist on a fashion design theme.

Emily is a budding fashion illustrator - it is one of her hobbies and I must say that I was blown away by the caliber of her sketches. So, while many girls her age want a Bat Mitzvah theme that has to do with fashion magazines, shopping or popular brands, Emily had something much more elevated in mind (yay for me!). We didn't focus at all on fashion as an outcome, but instead on fashion as a process. One thing was non-negotiable though... PINK! Emily loves pink and wouldn't consider straying from it for a minute.

The first thing my design team worked on was establishing a logo that was both elegant and youthful and that tied into the theme without being too blatant. We decided on a hand illustrated bust form with Emily's name draping around the neck like a tape measure. Talented stationer Ana Dolan used this motif to create a variety of printed pieces for the party.

Next, I wanted to have a creative way to display the escort cards that tied into the theme, so after a lot of thought, I decided to use Emily's sketches as inspiration to create 3-D moodboards. We worked backwards from some of Emily's best sketches and added fabric swatches, ribbons and beads to frame the cards themselves.

For me, the flowers were a no-brainer. Emily's parents wanted to have elegant, tasteful centerpieces that were seasonal and simple, but Emily wanted to be sure the theme carried through. So, on half of the tables, we created lush trios of peonies, roses, hydrangea, orchids and calla lilies in varying shades of pink. On the other half of the tables, though, I sourced beautiful painted wire dress forms, set them on a base of full flowers coordinating with the other tables and accented them with a "belt" of pink roses so that the wire wouldn't feel too harsh.

In the lounge area for the kids, we needed just a few small floral accents, so I pounded the pavement for days to find pink high heels to use as vases for these sweet cocktail pieces.

Finally, since everyone in NYC is crunched for space, I wanted to help Emily's family avoid the problem of the huge sign-in board that often needs to find a permanent home in a small apartment. I purchased a pink (of course) cocktail dress and accessorized it with a brooch and a necklace on my trusty mannequin (affectionately nicknamed Violetta by my staff!) and allowed the guests to offer their congratulations to Emily by signing the dress! This way she can still keep it forever, but neatly hung in her closet or folded in a drawer.

All photos by Sharon Schuster

Another fun party for another great family. Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky...

Happy fall!

*Thanks to Lenox Hill Florist for acting as my floral production partner for this event.

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