a garden party in Venice Beach / my 91st salon dinner

“a garden to walk in and immensity to dream in ~ what more could he ask?
a few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” ~ victor hugo 

i had dreamt of gardens ~ gardens to grow up in, gardens to shoot my clothes in, gardens to throw a party in, gardens to walk in ~ in them, you can dream ~ and i have, and do. to be offered a friend’s garden to do my very first salon dinner in los angeles, was beyond dreamy. it came from some inner memory of something i couldn’t quite remember if i had experienced, or not. kind of like an alice in wonderland image, that again, i may have seen, read, imagined, but never done. and so we did. a garden party. inspired by my friend lucy hamilton’s garden party for 100, service a la russe, that she had last fall ~ i kept the idea buried somewhere down deep,  of hundreds of butterflies that seemingly sparkled in her magical space in st helena. an elegance so rare, refined, so full of grace. to translate that idea in my own way was kind of like how i think about a collection of clothing (like my chez panisse collection, below) ~ the ingredients are only different ~ instead of fabric, texture and silhouette, we have people, add a bit of context, food, a basic thread of possible personal thematics, and you have salon dinner #91 in the beautiful garden of jodie evans, in venice beach.

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above / original drawings of alice in wonderland, 1898, by John Tenniel. John Everett Millais’ Ophelia.
and 5 shots of my Chez Panisse Collection from 2011, shot by Garbiel Harber.


“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” ~ lewis carroll

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
~ lewis carroll


and so i start with that, and with this ~ something i wrote only yesterday about where to start. 


“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
~ martha graham

“In the end all collaborations are love stories.”
~ twyla tharp

“where does one start? ~ is it with an idea, a texture, a silhouette, a muse, a moment~ frozen, captured, still or in movement, contrasted, juxtaposed ~ a sound of past, a smell of now, a love of her, a taste of him ~ real, imagined? if in fact there is only one expression in a moment, unique to a person’s perception, emitting from some well of inspiration ~ what happens when you add a soundtrack of memories that evoke a past gone and almost forgotten, but retained in the breath of each utterance, a recollection of something that no longer is. And then add visuals that have lived with you through the years, inhabiting your world, inspiring you to always do more, always want more, always be more. And ~ what happens when you bring together a couple of collaborators to fold into the moment, to help with a vision, that is no longer uniquely yours, but beautifully everyones who is part of that specific evening ~ documented, etched in time. That, for me, is waku doki, encapsulated, making my heart beat in the anticipation of possibility and wonder ~ the closest to my idea of perfection, cocooned in the interaction of all things sensual and ethereal.” ~ from Around the World with Oscar


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The above quote was from a moment in my head about doing my recent collection of clothing at the De Young Museum in SF inspired by Oscar de la Renta. What’s so profoundly compelling is how the way to start anything, can be so similar, so much the same process. For the garden party, the context was set, amongst the beauty of a paradise on palms boulevard a few blocks from the ocean. I added in a collaborator ~ my dear friend pamela esterson who flew in from the east coast to co-host, and conjure people and ideas with me. i had already had a handful of friends from different pasts in academia, art and film worlds, and as far back as my junior year abroad in england when i was 19, who were going to be gathered around the table. who else to add in? what to eat and drink? what to wear? and….

and, below a glimpse of a few moments, along with my opening toast ~ words by the amazing rebecca solnitt that i thought were beautiful, poignant, present. My (actual) guests for the evening who spanned the worlds of music, film/acting/directing/screenplay writing/producing/cinematography , food, engineering/JPL, TV, costume design, academia, activism, architecture, writing, and wine ~ were as follows (they changed from the above menu) ~ 

cari borja, jodie evans, pamela esterson, dorna khazeni, kiersten johnson, anthony sibthorpe & simone vitucci
brett simon & katie flynn, karen tenkhoff, tracy tynan, robert & claudia egger, dub cornett, ted jessup, nora messenger
mauricio katz, olivia geyelin, dana adam shapiromichael karnow, joshua banta, ella & ben freyinger
brent bushnell & maggie grace, matt haber, natanya marks, tom & rebecca hunter, paul & priscilla ryan


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Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” ~ virginia woolf

“love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch,
but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.” ~ helen keller

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“There isn’t a story to tell,
because a relationship is a story
you construct together and take up residence in,
a story as sheltering as a house.
You invent this story of how your destinies
were made to entwine like porch vines,
you adjust to a big view in this direction
and no view in that,
the doorway that
you have to duck through
and the window that is jammed,
how who you think you are
becomes a factor of who you think he is
and who he thinks you are,
a castle in the clouds
made out of the moist air exhaled by dreamers.”
~ rebecca solnitt

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“this is the power of gathering:
it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful,
more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive.” 
~ alice waters



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“to see a world in a grain of sand
and a heaven in a wild flower
hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour.”
~ william blake




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