I have always loved Halloween. I suppose it is natural for a fashion designer to gravitate to this holiday. Given all the opportunities it presents to let the imagination fly. My love of costume design was seeded in those first Halloween costumes I made as a little girl. When my French goddaughter and her mother proposed a trip to the United States near the end of October, I though, “Aha!” Here was an opportunity to show them a fun, quintessentially American tradition.
Instead of making this a black and orange color scheme, I worked with a palette of silver, gray, and black and wanted my party table to resemble Miss Havisham’s decaying banquet room in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. Cobwebs, fog, and a look of disheveled splendor became the theme.
The party was held in my studio, a simple, clean space with high ceilings that is an ideal place to create another world. The pair of chandeliers that light it was my starting point: I stretched what seemed like miles of artificial cobwebs from the chandeliers to every corner, then enhanced the gauzy ethereal look by adding bits of dried Spanish moss. I dyed mounds of cheesecloth in varying shades of gray to cover the dinner and buffet tables and create oversized ghosts that hung on the porch and throughout the room. The heads were draped with the gauzy cheesecloth and adorned with sad faces cut from black felt.
Anchored at each end of the dining table were barren artificial trees draped in faux spiderwebs and moss and filled with faux bats, black crows, and a large stuffed owl. Dilapidated candelabra with black candles, rubber snakes, spiders, and silver pumpkins made up the tableau. Sinister hosts–creepy skeletons rented from New York City’s Abracadabra costume shop presided and were so realistic they were truly frightening to some. Each child had his or her fortune told by “Madame Rosa” (who works with me). With some advance help from a mom or dad, she was able to impress the children with her insider knowledge of their hobbies, school life, and friendships.
For food, we had genuine kids’ fare, but the adults seemed to love the food every bit as much! On the menu were homemade Sesame Chicken Fingers with Peach Honey Sauce, Cookie Cutter French Fries, (recipes for these are in A Passion for Parties) macaroni and cheese, baby hamburgers and hot dogs, salad, and treats–homemade popcorn balls, ice cream, and individual black widow spider cakes mounted on caramelized sugar webs. Guests received the obligatory trick-or-treat candy to take home. No one refused the goody bag!