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September 11, 2012

First Look: Soirée: Entertaining with Style by Danielle Rollins

With Grace Kelly’s polish & Carolyn Roehm’s entertaining savoir faire, Rollins is poised to be America’s next soirée sweetheart

By Nancy Staab

  • Photos by Quentin Bacon and John Kernick, courtesy of Rizzoli, unless otherwise noted

Tastemaker and Veranda magazine and LuxeCrush contributor Danielle Rollins reveals her entertaining sleight of hand in a gorgeous new coffee table book by Rizzoli out October 2012. LuxeCrush got a sneak preview of Rollin’s swellegant book.

The book cover and images from Soiree: Entertaining with Style: Hostess/Author Danielle Rollins and Prosecco & Popsicles The book cover and images from Soiree: Entertaining with Style: Hostess/Author Danielle Rollins and Prosecco & Popsicles

Some have likened Atlanta tastemaker / hostess / philanthropist / magazine contributor Danielle Rollins to a “Martha Stewart in Louboutins” and that’s a pretty accurate statement. I am fortunate to count Rollins as a friend and colleague (full disclosure: Rollins is LuxeCrush’s Contributing Style Editor). I have seen her digging in the dirt quite literally, tending to her lush flower and vegetable gardens and to her aviary of exotic birds. [Her house hosts a menagerie of creatures for her and her family’s amusement from a male turtle with a female name—long story—to various cats, dogs, Koi fish, rabbits and for a brief time, lambs gamboling on her front lawn for a Blackberry Farm-hosted dinner party for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival). I have also seen Rollins almost simultaneously scoop up one of her three mini-me, tow-headed children for a maternal hug; set an impeccable table in those same vertiginous Louboutins; stir an aromatic pot on the stove using produce from her own vegetable plots; pop the champagne corks (always with a small glass for the hostess as she gets ready!) and then rush up to her Miles Redd-designed marble and mirrored dressing room for a quick slick of lipstick and the donning of a party dress for a night of glamorous entertaining. She does it ALL and yet, makes it all look so easy!

A cheery Coming Up Roses cocktail A cheery Coming Up Roses cocktail

Effortless chic (or at least the illusion of it) is the real secret to Rollin’s utterly stylish but unstuffy, chic but personable entertaining style.  The lady may look like a modern day Grace Kelly with her perfect porcelain doll complexion and cool blonde hair pinned in an elegant up-twist and she’s got her own coterie of A-list friends—many make a cameo in the book like designer Miles Redd, Oscar de la Renta, Rachel Roy, and Lela Rose-- but she’s also a Texas native and as down-to-earth, direct, fun-loving and effervescent (she giggles and blushes like a schoolgirl) as they come. This is the true secret to Rollin’s charm and her ability to make all guests instantly comfortable and all of her soirées instantly memorable. She can just as easily kick off those fancy stilettos and dance barefoot as throw a black-tie holiday party. Or host a warm, casual meal in her kitchen or an outdoor, Autumn bonfire with s’mores (with homemade graham crackers whipped up by the hostess, herself, of course) with as much attention to detail as a formal, sit-down dinner on the lawn for Oscar de la Renta.

Don’t have enough fine china for your entire party? Rollins’ philosophy is "no matter."  Instead, mix and match your pieces or even borrow from friends.

Many would roll out liveried footman and crisp, starched tablecloths for Oscar de la Renta’s ceremonious arrival. But Rollins? She entertained him much in the charmingly pastoral manner of Marie Antoinette at the Hameau, with a rustic-chic theme of burlap tablecloths, simple arrangements of wheatgrass and white blooms, a down-home Southern repast and easy but romantic candlelight. Oscar was thoroughly delighted.

Rollins may appear to lead the storied life of one of Slim Aaron’s society swans, a modern-day Slim Keith or Babe Paley with picture-perfect, historic Philip Trammell Shutze estate to match, but she’s also a steel magnolia, whose true strength, grace and grit, good humor and resilience were revealed when severely tested by some of life’s most universal hardships. Most notably, her beloved daughter Carlyle endured a traumatic accident that nearly cost the loss of her limb, if not life. Through it all, Rollins carried her head high and in spirited, graceful manner, as only she can: flawlessly hosting de la Renta and the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta’s chief fundraiser event in the midst of her personal crisis.

Co-host Miles Redd delivering a vintage Gin-Gin Mule cocktail Co-host Miles Redd delivering a vintage Gin-Gin Mule cocktail

Rollins is compassionate, generous and loyal to a fault to her family, loved ones and friends: and isn’t that the true essence of beautiful entertaining:  graciousness and consistent thoughtfulness towards others?  Through her creativity, aesthetics and in-born, exceptionally good taste, Rollins is able to take the ordinary and add just the right amount of sparkle, magic, thoughtful attention to details, humor, fun, grace and a soupçon of mischief or the unexpected to elevate the party to the iconic.

 I will never forget the illuminated Hermès bar that she set up for one summer soirée, complete with faceted, cut-crystal wine goblets, or her elegant Gatsby-style lawn party for Ralph Lauren’s team with croquet set up on the lawn and cooling sorbets... that were meticulously molded into fruits!

All party effects, large and small, are summoned in order to delight and surprise her guests and make them forget, at least for a little bit, their own daily cares and worries. So, yes, Rollins is a bit like Martha Stewart in Louboutins, or a hybrid of Grace Kelly and Carolyne Roehm, but in the end, she’s also got a spoonful of Mary Poppins’ magic in her chic soirées, sprinkled with fairy dust. This book is ineffably glamorous, almost conjuring up a graceful world of entertaining and dinner parties that scarcely exists anymore. (We hope Rollins book helps bring this tradition back!) But Soirée is also an infinitely useful and practical guide. The 15 parties featured in the book range from a “Paris in the ‘50s” cocktail co-hosted at Miles Redd’s jewel-box NYC townhouse to an earthy pizza party, complete with home-made Popsicles dipped in glasses of Prosecco for dessert. Rollins dispenses step-by-step practical advice such as how to construct a seating chart, how to create a lavish table top, over 80 elegant recipes  (vanilla-bean-infused champagne! And the personal recipes of some of Atlanta and New York’s premiere chefs like Kevin Rathbun, Anne Quatrano, Linton HopkinsPascal Lorange, etc.) --plus other tips to add the quintessential Rollins fairy dust to your own gathering, whether a champagne New Year's Eve or an informal French picnic. And if you take Danielle Rollins’ example to heart, you will carry out “le picnic” with the same stylish aplomb and joie de vivre as if you were actually IN the South of France… even if you are just south of the city!

As Danielle says in her intro: “When life gets me down, the fastest way to get back up is to put on a swipe of lipstick and have a little soirée!”  Cheers to that.

For more info visit Danielles' website on gracious living and stylish entertaining: danielledrollins.com/

Soirée : Entertaining with Style by Danielle Rollins [Rizzoli], $50, with 250 color photos is out October 2012 and available via amazon and fine bookstores. Saks Fifth Avenue, Rizzoli and Veranda magazine will host a booksigning for Danielle Oct. 2, 6-8PM in New York at the Rizzoli shp on Fifth Ave. and 50th Street with co-hosts Rachel Roy, Lela Rose, and Celerie Kemble. You can also catch Danielle in Atlanta at a book lecture on "Gracious Living and Stylish Entertaining" at ADAC on Oct. 4 at 2PM.

 

SEE SLIDESHOW BELOW OF IMAGES FROM DANIELLE ROLLINS’ NEW BOOK SOIREE: ENTERTAINING WITH STYLE BY RIZZOLI.

AND ON THE OCCASION OF HER BOOK RELEASE, WE ALSO TOOK A STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE BY RE-POSTING PAST PHOTOS FROM SOME OF HER MORE SINGULAR SOIREES: A GREAT GATSBY LAWN PARTY FOR RALPH LAUREN AND SUMPTUOUS DINNER FOR OSCAR DE LA RENTA. BOOK PHOTOS ARE BY JOHN KERNICK AND QUENTIN BACON UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. PARTY PHOTOS BY SARAH DORIO, BEN ROSE AND PHILIP SHONE.

One of Danielle's lawn parties with a chic Chinoiserie theme One of Danielle's lawn parties with a chic Chinoiserie theme