If there is anyone who knows how to throw a summer soirée, it's EyeSwoon’s Athena Calderone. If you haven't visited her too-gorgeous-to-be-true website yet, you’ll find a treasure trove of beautiful photos and refreshing recipes and get a glimpse of the beautiful parties that she hosts at her East Hampton retreat. Last Friday, I was one of the lucky guests at one of Calderone’s summer soirées, to celebrate Vestiaire Collective, the latest online consignment site for luxury goods to make waves amongst the fashion crowd. (If you’re not familiar sight the site just yet, now is the perfect opportunity to embark on a shopping spree at vestiairecollective.com). Notable guests included stylist Kate Foley (co-host of the event); Jessie Randall, founder of Loeffler Randall; and Max Osterweis of SUNO. The evening was the perfect trifecta of beauty: guests, decor and food.
Calderone’s picturesque backyard was the perfect setting for such a summer shindig, and lucky for her, she doesn’t have to look too far when it comes to picking a palette, which was inspired by her surroundings: Purple flowers budding in her garden and the lavender she was clipping at a local farm a week prior. “I do think effortless is key to evoke a relaxed summer vibe. A lot of thought went into the dinner decor, but always with the goal of keeping it a bit informal.”
For the centerpiece, this relaxed simplicity was key. In lieu of fussy decor, Calderone simply lay bunches of fresh lavender down the table directly on the surface, creating a beautiful, fragrant runner that could not have been easier to execute. Plus, the fresh herbs channeled the origins of Vestiaire Collective. “Since it is a European brand, and our goal was to celebrate the season, I began to think about the ever abundant lavender fields in Provence, France, and how they release such a swoony fragrance and are also an elegant expression of summer.”
For the menus, Calderone opted for casual kraft paper, and had them printed in unexpected white lettering which “kept things elevated.” As for the beautiful wispy bouquets at each place setting, “I worked together with Taylor Patterson of Fodder Fox Farm. Keeping within the pale purple and pink color story, we simply clipped some blooms (some purchased and others from my garden) and tied them together with nude linen fabric that was rustically torn,” explains Calderone. “I prefer for things to feel natural and undone.”
The food was equally pleasing to the eye and palate. During cocktail hour, guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and a lovely tequila cocktail, created by Jim Meehan (of PDT and chef Enrique Olvera of Cosme). For dinner, highlighting the season’s best produce, Cloud catering whipped up a strawberry and endive salad with whipped crème fraîche and strawberry vinaigrette for the appetizer, and Tasmania sea trout with a medley of veggies, potatoes, and a tomato vinaigrette. Each dish came beautifully plated, with ribbons of fresh vegetables carefully arranged atop artful swipes of colorful sauces.
My favorite, though, had to be dessert: a pillowy, blueberry brown butter tart with lemon crème fraîche and butterscotch sauce.
The next time you’re planning an outdoor fete, don’t forget Calderone’s M.O.: “Simple ideas, thoughtfully executed.” And to mimic one such this, stock up on some creamy linens, and remember that bundles of lavender can go a long way. Oh, and we even got your cocktail covered. Here’s the recipe to the elegant cocktail that was served poolside.
Pink Panther "La Pantera Rosa"
2 oz Casa Dragones Blanco Tequila
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz grapefruit juice
1/2 oz agave syrup
2 dashes celery shrub
1 oz ginger ale
Lime wheel, for garnish
Lavender sprig, for garnish
1. Shake first five ingredients with ice and fine strain into a Collins glass filled with ice or a coupe glass.
2. Top with ginger ale. Garnish with a lime wheel or lavender sprig.