Jamee Gregory's New York Parties: Private Views
"I've been very lucky in New York to have such terrific and interesting friends," the elegant and statuesque Gregory told Luxist at the book party thrown in her honor by Jay McLaughlin at his J. McLaughlin boutique on Madison Avenue in New York on December 8. "It seemed to me that they put so much of themselves into the entertaining, that every party was like a theatrical performance and they were the producer."
"These events have such a limited audience that it occurred to me that other people would love to see these beautiful but ephemeral moments," she added. "So I thought I would put it all together, play Margaret Mead, and make a document showing the natives of my New York in 2010 and how they entertain and what they do."
Gregory encountered several amusing experiences while reporting the book, including the complications that often arise unexpectedly.
"The book is sort of like a reality television show," she explained. "My photographer, Eric Striffler, and I went out early in the morning to follow each party unfold in real time. We covered everything that happened, whether it was the power cables being cut at my house in Southampton, or the great event that Campion Platt planned when his air conditioning broke." The book also includes an anecdote about Michael Kors when his garbage disposal was clogged with chives. "Things happen," added Gregory. "This is what makes my book a little bit different."
According to Gregory, while the project was an interesting undertaking, it was a far more complicated one to compile than her previous book, New York Apartments: Private Views (Rizzoli, 2004), which was a peak inside 22 glamorous New York apartments. "Each host and hostess had to alert his or her guests that they were going to be part of this book," she recalled. "I had to get a written release from everyone."
Gregory's goal was to show what it is really like to throw a party. "I wanted to show that things can go wrong---that nothing is perfect and you have to roll with the punches," she said. "I think each chapter is a story of an unfolding event. The book captures the kind of excitement and fun it is to give a party."
The book contains many helpful tips, including ideas for how to make beautiful centerpieces inexpensively. Jamie Drake, one of America's leading designers, decorated a colorful buffet with organic produce. Other examples show how expensive items can be mixed with inexpensive items for a festive presentation. For example, Evelyn Lauder hosted a party where she mixed inexpensive napkin rings purchased at Pottery Barn with Baccarat dishes and crystal. Another party featured in the book is the hunt breakfast hosted by Fernanda Kellogg and Kirk Henckels at Fitch's Corner, the couple's Millbrook, N.Y. horse farm. "Fernanda used plastic cups embossed with her Fitch's Corner logo along with hunting plates from Spode and Wedgwood," Gregory recalls. "For a centerpiece, Fernanda filled big silver buckets with apples."
Gregory believes it isn't necessary to hire a caterer or spend all day cooking to throw a memorable event. Her book describes a stress-free luncheon hosted by Tory Burch at her apartment in Manhattan. "Tory ordered food from Milos, our favorite Greek restaurant, and quickly ran home from her office," Gregory explained. "Tory had all the plastic containers on her table top and in less than ten minutes she transferred the food into the wonderful serving pieces she collected while on her travels around the world. Tory then set the table with D. Porthault linens and it looked like she had spent ages cooking and preparing and really knocked herself out."
"I wanted to show that entertaining can be easy and fun," Gregory added. "No one should be intimidated giving a party."