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.

Monday, September 12, 2011

NewlyWish at The Wedding Salon

Let me start by saying that I know I have been off the blogosphere for an embarrassingly long time and I'm sorry. The summer wedding whirlwind got the best of me, but I have desperately missed writing in this forum and I have SO many great events and designs to share. So, at long last... I'm baaaack!

I am going to make a feeble attempt at getting caught up, so let's turn back the clock to the first days of Spring when I was so kindly invited, once again, to design a tabletop for my friends at NewlyWish to show off their amazing registry wares to the thousands of NYC brides who make their way through The Wedding Salon bridal event. Since NewlyWish goddess Amanda Allen and I have gotten in a bit of a design groove (see previous projects here and here), I wasn't given too much direction for this project. All I had to go on was that she wanted to feature these adorable new Ink Dish plates and she wanted to introduce brides to the idea that NewlyWish is not just for registries but also for all occasion gift giving.

The Wedding Salon events are always sold out, for brides and for vendors. So, it is the type of venue in which vendors need to stand out or they'll be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of traffic and chaos that goes on around them. Knowing this, I wanted to introduce as much sparkle and intrigue as I possibly could in just a 6'x6' area. I brought in one of my trusty mirrored tabletops and topped a mulberry linen with it to amplify the glimmer that we would create with candlelight. I also used one of the custom built acrylic towers that I debuted at Cindy and Brent's wedding to give the NewlyWish table the height it needed to stand out in the crowd.

I took a very literal approach to the gift-giving concept that Amanda wanted to introduce since the environment of a bridal show doesn't always allow for much conversation. Instead of using a traditional charger plate, I filled a paper gift box with a pave of white carnations (yup, carnations sometimes do the trick!) and used it as the base for the layered Ink Dish china on display. The coordinating box tops were adorned with lush fabric bows in perfectly matched pink.

The centerpiece was a collection of small cylinder vases filled with the first peonies of the season along with light pink roses and calla lilies. To modernize the uber-feminine pieces just a bit, I added dramatic loops of black wire dotted with pink orchids which connected the five vases in the middle of the table. I also wrapped each of the vases in soft Japanese paper that I purchased in error for another client... See, no one can tell me I'm not a little bit green!

All photos by Allan Zepeda

As always, I had a great time putting this table together and flexing my design muscles a bit. I'm looking forward to the next NewlyWish tabletop project already!

I promise I'll be back sooner rather than later. Thanks for being patient with me!