A few months ago, I wrote about the five year anniversary of my arriving in Los Angeles. I talked about the concept of home and how I hadn’t really known what that meant until I drove into LA and… felt it. Well, it was only a few weeks after I landed in LA that I decided to head to The Grove for a networking event at the Diane von Furstenberg store there. I don’t even remember how I got connected with the group but I remember thinking I’d landed in some fairytale land as I toured the beautiful store, touched the perfect fabrics, and looked around at all the happy, smiling faces of people who – just maybe – might be my friends? I wasn’t completely off as two of them have remained in my close circle of friends and business partners. But more importantly, it was the evening that started my business life in Los Angeles and today I’m thrilled and humbled to remember our first event at DVF and sharing that experience with you.
Towards the end of the evening, I remember the store manager, Erin, coming up to everyone and handing out her business card.
“If you have any ideas of events we could host here, please don’t hesitate to let me know,” she said.
“Well,” I boldly chirped, “I do!” We scheduled a call for a few days from then and, almost immediately, she said, “is two weeks from today too soon?” Yes, I replied, unfortunately it was. What she didn’t know, of course, was that I barely knew anyone, even musicians, in LA and would have to start from scratch. I called in a few favors, did a barter deal with an amazing pianist friend, found a photographer through some connections, and, voilà, there was my team!
I was also so thrilled to have been allowed to share messaging about the Icla da Silva Foundation, a bone marrow recruitment center on whose board I proudly sit.
A month later, on June 23rd, 2016 (see, that’s not really a useful piece of information to take up space in my brain, but there you have it), we arrived at the DVF store around 4:30 and started to set up for our big night. They had asked me to prepare a musical pairing for their May and June collections, called the ‘Palazzo’ (or Palace) collection. The May collection was full of flowers and hues of pink whereas the June collection was blue, black, and white and full of geometric patterns and polka dots. What amazing thing was happening to me that I was being paid (albeit it very, very little) to create a musical wine tasting and pairing experience for one of the world’s best-known designers in my first few weeks in Los Angeles?
The June Collection
We started with the June collection, and the first two pieces of clothing we were asked to pair to were a pink flapper dress, worn by our vocalist, Kate Bass, and a long romper, worn by guitarist Dr. Molly Miller. We paired a tintoretto – basically a Bellini with pomegranate instead of peach juice – and apples with gorgonzola. DVF described the flapper dress as “capturing summer’s wanderlust.” What said this better than Frank Sinatra asking us to cast a coin into a cool fountain for a wish? Almost too perfectly, the two most famous fountains in Italy — the Fontana di Trevi in Rome and the Fountain of Neptune in Rome — both stand majestically in front of a Palazzo. The romper was fun and edgy, a perfect match for the sour apple and creamy gorgonzola, which of course showed off the blue and white of the June collection. The match was the perfect mix of sweet and salty!
For our last pairing of the first act, we had the divine, flowy Malina dress, that we paired with Vanilla meringues. It’s hard to think of the music of Italy without thinking of opera and while we could have paired the entire collection to opera, we couldn’t find a more perfect companion to the Malina dress than the aria, “Ch’il bel sogno” by Puccini from his lesser-known opera, La rondine. We asked guests to listen for the dance-like rhythm in three, the smooth yet at some points cheeky melodies, the soaring high melody, and the airiness of the rolled chords. All these were the perfect match to the Malina. The vanilla meringues were airy and light, and were the perfect “something sweet” to follow the bite of the gorgonzola and apples and the ever so slightly tart tintoretto.
The May Collection
Our second act celebrating the May collection started out with a classic, yet sexy black pantsuit, and to that we paired Pecorino Oro Antico from Tuscany. Once again we started with some opera, a quintessentially Florentine piece, “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicci by Puccini. Dramatic, wishful, and wistful all at the same time, it is a tune everyone knows. We imagined the Ponte Vecchio bridge and the River Arno flowing beneath, as a young girl passionately begs her father to let her marry her beloved or… or… she’ll just die. The Pecorino Oro Antico is from Tuscany, which of course is the region of Italy where Florence is located. This hard Italian cheese has a bit of a bite to it, as did the gorgonzola, but it’s more nutty in flavor and we thought provided an ideal pairing to the dramatic pantsuit and the aria. Next up was DVF’s Kera dress, which our pianist, Dr. Cheryl Lin Fielding was wearing as well as the pink wrap dress, Strawberries and rosé wine were paired for the next two selections. The May collection was full of vibrant colors and flirty textures perfect for dancing on a summer’s evening and so we paired this with a waltz by Eric Satie. “La vie en rose” ended our pairing. Diane von Furtenberg spent much of her young life in France, and it is where many of her creative endeavours started.
We like to think that our pairings aren’t always so very obvious but this was one we couldn’t pass up. “La vie en rose” is, again, a melody we all know and probably one that has some meaning in our lives. It wasn’t difficult to see ourselves wearing these beautiful outfits and strolling along the cobblestone streets of Paris.