THE PARTY DESIGNER Nikola Hassan, managing director of Avantgarde
Dream party: Picture the grand ballroom of New York’s Waldorf Astoria. The smell and sight of plush blooms; the sensual glow of candlelight; pearls abound. It’s the height of Gatsbyesque decadence and the smooth sounds of Sinatra classics are given a modern twist by Harry Connick Jr. – live in the house, of course. The chef list: I would have Anna Olson, Daniel Boulud, Mario Batali, Jamie Oliver, and Sydney chefs Neil Perry and Matt Moran all in the kitchen. Imagine the beautiful chaos. On the iPod: Jamie Cullum’s jazz covers of hip-hop songs during predinner cocktails; Andrea Bocelli, Alicia Keys or Carla Bruni-Sarkozy during dinner; but live performances by Pharrell and Drake to party all night. What’s hot: Dishes that are plated to be shared Yotam Ottolenghi-style. Roast chicken with sides all served on a chopping board, like I had recently at a girls-only dinner at Beast; a decadent cheese board; crunchy salads; sea-salt baked fish. Classic cocktails: With a modern twist. Hendricks gin and tonic with a splash of elderflower, a cucumber slice. My personal touch: sprigs of lavender and edible flowers frozen in ice cubes. Good girls know: Etiquette never goes out of style. There’s something so delicious about hand-writing a note on personalised stationary. What’s out: Chevron stripes are so overdone and tired (unless your last name is Missoni, of course). I think the candy bar buffet is also an exhausted concept. Vintage décor with DIY confetti garlands and pinwheels are quirky, but have been used ad nauseam. Dream guests: Coco Chanel, Aerin Lauder, Kelly Wearstler, Diane von Fürstenberg. Power couples president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, relevant intellects like Richard Quest, Diane Sawyer, Anderson Cooper, and my absolute favourite Park Avenue princess, Marie-Chantal of Greece. Dress code: Glitter and sparkles for some festive glamour. Something specific but still not imposing on guests; the last thing you want as a host is for guests to be panicking about what to wear and feeling restricted by the dress code. Table design: The new Tiffany & Co. Atlas design base plates and fine china, Christofle sterling silver, Lalique crystal candelabras with white candles, Diptyque candles from the Christmas collection (my staples are Gardenia and Tuberose), and rich, all-white flower arrangements Best party-saver: Great cocktails and rosé champagne always get the party going. Worst faux pas: Overstaying your welcome. Know when the party is over. Best coffee table presentations: Canapés like caviar blinis and mini crab cakes served on Hermès fine china platters, full bouquets of luxurious flowers, candles, a stack of monogrammed linen cocktail napkins, and a crystal bowl of dragée (sugared almonds) in white and gold.
Designer Tom Dixon
Tujo Bar-sserie & Grill