Inside the exclusive French dinner party…
Le dîner en blanc is a pop-up dinner party that began in Paris in 1988. The event remained exclusive to the French capitol until 2011, when the first iteration took place in New York, instantly becoming an international sensation, with dozens of cities around the world asking to host their own versions of the all-white affair. Today, New York’s Dîner is among the largest, second only to Paris, welcoming 5,000 dinner guests and boasting a waiting list almost 50,000 names long.
The premise for the event is a simple one. One warm summer night per year thousands of diners gather in an outdoor historic landmark site to have dinner together at once. The one rule is that every guest must be dressed in pure white. All the tablecloths, chairs, napkins, and decorations must be white. The extreme commitment to the monochrome scheme makes the evening quite an aesthetic marvel to behold.
This year’s New York Dîner en blanc was the city’s seventh. It was held at Lincoln Center on August 22rd, 2017. The Dîner kicked off the way all do, with a ceremonial moment at precisely 7pm when all the guests raised their white napkins into the air and swung them in circles over their heads. Following this, the meal and the evening’s entertainment began. Those guests who had not pre-reserved a meal prepared by celebrity chef and restauranteur Todd English were responsible for packing their own picnic baskets. Entertainment included performances by rockjazz musicianELEW (aka Eric Lewis), operatic sopranos Samantha Jeffreys and Andrea Chinedu Nwoke, and the immensely popular Brooklyn United Marching Band.
As the night wore on and the sun began to set, all the white began to look blue in the dusk. Once the performances had finished and most guests were finished eating, the DJ turned up the music and people moved toward the central fountain to dance under the stars, bathed in the light flowing out of the Metropolitan Opera House.
The greatest marvel of Le Dîner en blanc is the sheer beauty of the thing itself. From afar, it could appear to be some kind of elaborate white wedding. In reality, it’s just a group of people coming together to eat, drink, and enjoy beautiful music and beautiful company. In a truly French vein of thought, the entire point of the evening is to just kick back and enjoy life and good conversation for a few hours.
At this year’s New York Dîner en blanc the gourmet picnic baskets were prepared by Todd English, wine was provided by Kenwood Vineyards, champagne provided by Canard-Duchêne Champagne, and water by Evian Badoit. Additionally, COVERGIRL had a white tent open offering free touch-ups and samples of their cosmetics.
You can hear more about the event by reading our interview with Dîner en blanc international co-founder Aymeric Pasquier.