Dining in a space that’s dripping in 24k gold and silky, rich velvets feels luxurious, but add a few racks of couture gowns and a wandering peacock to the mix and you’ve got yourself a downright decadent occasion. The brilliant talents behind Tinsel Experiential Design recently hosted a party of such over-the-top proportions, decked out in everything from chinoiserie vases to live butterflies.
To find out more about the inspiration behind this opulent gathering, and to read holiday decorating tips from the Tinsel team, hop on down below. Even if you can’t fill a bathtub with sequin disco balls or score enough gold flakes to sprinkle along your table setting, there are plenty of solid tips below that anyone can wrap their head around.
Tell us about this event and how it came about?
We were invited to collaborate on this styled dinner by our dear friends at Comparti New York, one of our favorite boutique catering partners. They had already planted the seeds for the gathering with The Altman Building and Armarium, but looked to us to help develop the theme and build our our dream team of vendors. As we explored the venue and what we wanted to achieve with the dinner, it became a priority to demonstrate how easily the venue's raw, industrial space could be dressed to offer a unique alternative to a more traditional ballroom setting. During a brainstorm, Comparti's Mac Osborne referenced a piece in The New York Times entitled "In Defense of Decadence" celebrating the intentionally overly flourished menu and service at Le Cirque. We decided that we wanted to recreate a similar deliciously over-the-top dining experience for our guests, and thus the event name and concept took off from there.
Why did you choose this venue?
As we planned our dinner, The Altman Building was in the midst of a bit of a rebirth and rebrand. The space itself has an incredible heritage, having once upon a time served as the carriage house for Mr. Benjamin Altman, the founder of one of the city's flagship luxury department stores. The building that once bustled with teams of horses, deliverymen, and gowns from Paris, now serves as a versatile blank canvas event space.
What was the design inspiration? Any special elements?
Our design direction pulled inspiration from a number of sources. Thinking broadly, we brainstormed a list of surprise-and-delight elements that would entice all five senses throughout the evening -- both through the decor and in the dining execution. While the event had to look good and the menu certainly had to impress, we were conscious to also consider the other senses like touch and smell. As such, guests noted layers of rich textures like velvet, satin, buttery leather, and cool marble throughout. And tuberose and tobacco candles created a soft cloud of a signature scent from room to room.
Another very special source of inspiration came in the form of wardrobe racks from our partner, Armarium. Beyond generously dressing our guests in their collection of couture gowns, the team -- whose tagline is "luxury on loan" -- helped us to create highly photographable color-blocked vignettes using dense rolling racks of clothing from high-end designers like Johanna Ortiz, Marchesa, Roberto Cavalli, and Naeem Khan. During cocktail hour, guests were invited to explore the styled vignettes, which featured a bathtub filled with discoballs and our most special guest -- a live peacock named Dexter.
Our dining table was designed to feel purposely packed with a riotous collection of florals, 14kt curiosities, and unexpected objets. We worked closely with Party Rentals LTD to select just the right shade of deep merlot velvet linens to serve as a base for cut crystal glassware and all gold everything -- flatware, chargers, plates. We chose an eclectic grouping of chinoiserie vases in varying heights to hold bouquets of deep plum peonies, garden roses, calla lilies, and ranunculus. Bowls of fruit dusted in edible diamond and gold flakes lined the length of the table. Irish linen napkins were tied with dazzling geode stone napkin rings by Kim Seybert. And notably, guests were delighted to discover live butterflies encased in glass jewelry boxes between place settings (our butterfly babies were released at the end of the night to live their best New York City lives).
The black and gold art deco ornamented stationery suite with matching calligraphed name cards designed by Ceci New York added just the right finishing touch to each guests' seat.
What was the menu like?
The team at Comparti used this opportunity to flex their culinary muscles. Their devilishly designed menu included dishes like duck breast with amarillo and tamarind, and a dessert froie gras with creme anglaise and dulce de leche.
We started the evening with a healthy supply of champagne from Perrier Jouet, then each course was paired with a new wine, all hand-selected to showcase women-led wineries.
Any standout moments from the evening?
The evening included so many golden highlights, but a singular standout moment happened just as the main course was being served. The lead songstress of Honey & Vinyl, a remarkable jazz and soul ensemble, drew all of the air out of the room in the most beautiful way crooning "Diamonds Are Forever." Event Planners are notoriously hard to impress, which was part of our fun challenge for the evening, so this moment where the room stood still and then spilled into applause felt like a big mark of success.
What is your top tip for recreating this look at home?
More realistically, the look of our dinner can be readily achieved by noting the following:
See the video recap by NST Pictures here →
Concept Design & Production: Tinsel Experiential Design | Venue: The Altman Building, Manhattan | Catering: Comparti New York | Invitations & Menus: Ceci New York | Band: Honey & Vinyl | Lighting: BML Blackbird | Photography: Andre Maier Photography & Noel McGrath Photography | Videography: NST Pictures & 12 Fl OZ Media | Rentals: Party Rental LTD, Patina | Gowns: Armarium | Champagne: Pernod Ricard Prestige | Special Appearance by Dexter the Peacock and his human, Ventiko