White is my favourite colour. It is the symbol of purity and of romance – the list of clichés is endless: the dove of peace; the meringue dress of the bride; the linen sheet; the carpet of snow; the sheet of paper in front of the writer or the composer; and in history, the famous 1918 Malevich painting “White on White” which opened the door to avant-garde art; or the floating icebergs symbol of our changing world.
If one thinks of a themed party, white is often top of many lists. It can be a casual country picnic, a pool or beach party, or a glamorous evening celebration.
Possibly, the most romantic, chic and fun party of the year is the annual “Diner en Blanc” (Dinner in White) in Paris in June. The mysterious and trendy Diner is a global dining event that, despite the veil of secrecy shrouding it, has become a worldwide phenomenon, spanning six continents, in which people gather in public space and set up a stylish dining area to enjoy quality food and wine.
The exact location is secret until the actual day, with guests notified one hour ahead by SMS. Guests arrive dressed in white, with picnic table, chairs, crockery, cutlery and glassware (no plastic!) wine, food and table decoration, all in white. And, like Cinderella, all must be gone by midnight taking everything with them, including the rubbish!
It all started in 1988 when a French man decided he wanted to invite a group of friends to eat at a forbidden spot in the city. They ended up dining as a 200 strong flash mob at the Jardins de Bagatelle, once a favourite of French royalty, including Marie Antoinette.
Although the event is now staged over 70 cities around the world, Paris is the definitive one and thousands are raised for charity. 15,000 guests gathered there for the 25th anniversary.
Over the years, I have given a few white parties, some simple affairs, others more sophisticated, all of them memorable.
There are no rules, only a few recommendations. Everything totally white can be a little bland. Colourless food doesn’t look particularly appetising but a little added colour –green (salads, vegetables), pink or yellow (edible flowers – [email protected]) can make all the difference.
And it’s not asking too much of the guests to wear white. All men have a white shirt in their wardrobe, and women are only too happy to have an excuse to buy a new dress.
Here are some moments from recent white parties –
This is the latest “Diner en Blanc” at the Lincoln Center in New York