We created Silkstone, our boutique events and catering company in New York, on the belief that there are two essential ingredients to the service industry: the stone which represents the intensive labor, integrity and commitment; and, the silk that reflects the creativity, innovation and elegance in which this is presented.
So when a client approached us to throw a lavish birthday party with the inspiration, “The Rat Pack,” we relished in the challenge to create a unique event around a popular theme and to avoid the cliché perceptions of that time. Instead, we concentrated on the sights, smells, sounds and tastes which defined that era rather than the glossy Hollywood version.
With every event the journey for the guests begins with the invitation. We took a copy of a famous Frank Sinatra vinyl and swapped in an image of our client, added event details and created a custom CD with iconic music from the genre to give guests some inspiration. A dress code advised, “Gentlemen to sport Rat Pack attire, classy suits with silk pocket squares, tuxedo shirts and maybe even a gangster fedora. The ladies should exhibit the styles of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O and the Hitchcock leading blonds.”
On the night of the event guests walked down a dark, cobblestone alley to a concealed speakeasy door. The sounds of a trumpeter and the heckles and shouts of acting prostitutes filled the smoky street. Burly bouncers ushered guests through a dimly lit corridor into a Chinese launderette – the stage for our coat check. Guests were forced to weave through a thousand pounds of vintage clothes in laundry carts and hanging bags, bamboo clad walls, chirping caged birds and barely audible Chinese music. An elderly Chinese man summoned guests behind the launderette through a heavy burlap corridor to reveal a scene straight from a 1950’s speakeasy. Pre-dinner cocktails were served in tea cups from the barrel built bar.
To actively engage our guests and create a energetic atmosphere we had bookies taking odds on the blackboard wall. Cocktail hour concluded with a bang with a drunk (actor) who smashed through the bar and pulled down the burlap material wall to reveal a glitzy, glamorous Vegas-style ballroom. Glass chandeliers, tall palm trees and light projections created ambiance.
Cigarette girls circled the room and cabaret performers put on a lavish show reminiscent of the New York underground world. A swing band played classic tunes (that were featured on the CD) such as, Fly Me to the Moon and New York, New York by Frank Sinatra; Mr. Bojangels by Sammy Davis, Jr; L.O.V.E. By Nat King Cole and Ain’t That a Kick in the Head by Dean Martin.
A bespoke dinner, inspired by The Rat Pack’s last meal at The Sands, created the perfect set for a true 1950’s experience. The menu featured canapés of Stuffed Crimini Mushrooms and Deviled Quail Eggs with Truffle Paddlefish Caviar and, for dessert, the Chocolate Knickerbocker Glory with Raspberries and Hazelnut Custard.
As a final surprise, while the guests were having dinner, the Speakeasy room was transformed into an extravagant hotel bar, clad with feathered arrangements and over-sized white booths for guests to relax and take a break from the dancing.
GUEST BLOG by Clemmie Browne of Silkstone
Silkstone is committed to delivering creative, innovative and sustainable food, lifestyle and design concepts. Led by dynamic duo Philip Winser and Benjamin Towill, the company has quickly established a stellar reputation for delivering world-class events with particular flair for creativity and resourcefulness, building an impressive list of clients that include Rodarte, Aveda, Hugo Boss and Terry Richardson.
PHOTO CREDIT: Stephanie Kessell and Nicholas Routzen