Next Tuesday, 5,000 New Yorkers will dress up in white, prepare a lavish picnic and get ready to dine at what has become one of the most anticipated dinner parties of the summer — the Dîner en Blanc.
Started nearly 30 years ago in Paris, the Dîner en Blanc is a (somewhat) secret dinner party, where guests only learn the location where they are dining an hour before the event. It first came to New York in 2011, and since then has attracted thousands of participants, with a waitlist of over 45,000 people.
While the dinner party is no doubt very beautiful, its popularity is somewhat surprising as there are a lot — A LOT — of rules for the Dîner en Blanc. Not only do your clothes need to be white, but so do your dining chairs, table (or at least tablecloth), napkins and utensils. Your table must be a square folding table, between 24 to 30 inches wide.
“It’s definitely a pain for a lot of people,” Gilles Amsallem, the event’s organizer admits. But he insists the rules are necessary; “this is how we are going to have the most beautiful event in the world, because you are all going to follow the same rules.”
“If you let a little loose one thing, then the next year you let loose a little more, and that’s how everything falls apart.”
Break a rule, though, and you’ll be sure to pay the consequences; each table leader keeps an eye on what is happening and makes a note if anyone is out-of-line. “If there is somebody who didn’t do the right thing, they will be marked as people who cannot be invited again,” Amsallem says.
Small offenses, like black shoes or a not-white chair that is covered with a white slip, though, are acceptable. “We are not that bad,” Amsallem says.
Guests have the option to either bring their own food or buy a picnic basket with food prepared by chef Todd English. No guests are allowed to bring their own alcohol, but they can buy Canard-Duchêne champagne or wine from Kenwood Vineyards online before the event.
Though not many details about the event are released beforehand, COVERGIRL, which is a sponsor, will be offering a touch-up beauty bar station and a photo booth. There will also be music and dancing.
Dîner en Blanc started as a purely social event in Paris and while it has partnered with brands like Canard-Duchêne champagne and COVERGIRL (not to mention Amsallem’s company, Selavi Global, which specializes in experiential marketing), organizers say it maintains its authentic spirit.
“Nobody wants to see a big logo or advertising, people want to feel something and experience something, and that’s what we do,” Amsallem says. “Dîner en Blanc is a beautiful platform for that.”