Last year The Social Life spent an enchanted evening at the San Francisco Diner en Blanc at Golden Gate Park. 3000 people dressed in white, all drinking champagne, eating french food and watching the sunset is something that can barely be put into words. Last week our Vancouver contributor Joshua Langston got to experience the first ever Vancouver Diner en Blanc. Let’s leave it up to him to explain the rest. -TSL
DINER EN BLANC VANCOUVER
By Joshua Langston
The last month has been absolutely jam packed with incredible events in this city and I have been fortunate to attend a numerous amount of them. The Deighton Cup, put on by the dynamic duo Tyson Villeneuve and Jordan Kallman of The Social Concierge, has been my favourite thus far. The weekend was a sartorial dream, one of the chicest events of the summer. You can only imagine my delight when my dear friend Crystal Carson informed me that The Social Concierge would be at it again. Crystal invited me to be a guest at what would be one of the most memorable nights of my life: Diner en Blanc. Dîner en Blanc was founded by François Pasquier 25 years ago among his group of friends in Paris. This exclusive dinner club has expanded internationally including 18 participating countries and over 15,000 members as of this year. Essentially it is an elegant outdoor flash mob dinner party.
For DEB, the guests are required to bring the following: Square card table, white linen table cloth, white linen napkins, silverware, crystal glassware (plastic is forbidden), a centerpiece and white chairs. You pre-order your wine/sparkling through Mondia Alliance to pick up upon arrival. Food was prepared by Top Chef Canada winner Dale MacKay. A specialty picnic was created for over 300 of the guests. Guest also has the option to bring their own picnic set up, which most people brought in their white wicker picnic baskets. With only 36 hours to prepare for the event, and a list longer than my NYFW packing list, I got straight to work
I forgot to mention the most important part (and exciting), the dress code. The required look was complete head-to-toe white ensemble, not a easy feat to source in Vancouver during the month of September. If this was Dîner en Cream or Dîner en Beige, this wouldn’t be as big of a problem. With 1200 confirmed guests for DEB and a wait list of over 4000 people, Vancouver’s ‘white supply’ had been sucked dry. Feeling defeated while trying to find my major stark white ‘fashion moment’, I stumbled into one of my favorite consignment shops. Through the corner of my eye I spotted a winter white tailcoat with white satin tuxedo lapel…it felt like in the movies when a couple slowly runs toward each other, just like in ‘The Notebook’ moment (and that jacket was the soaking wet Ryan Gosling…just saying). With my outfit complete, I hurried home to meet my friend and local Vancouver entertainer Atom Paradise to enjoy some pre-event cocktails.
The most interesting aspect of the night is its secrecy. The location only gets emailed to the “table leader” of your section, ONE HOUR BEFORE everything is scheduled to begin. Crystal Carson was our section leader, so we headed down to Yaletown’s Roundhouse to meet up with her. You can always count on Crystal to wear something lavish and memorable. Today her look included a full skirt with crinoline, pearls, a HUGE white full brim hat complete with her all-knowing illuminating smile. Um…EXCUSE ME!
The next thing I know two super cars outfitted with the FNOV logo pull up and out of the vehicle pops Florence Leung, Director of FNOV, and a couple Social Shopper Superheroes’. A the red carpet is rolled out Crystal exclaimed, “It’s time to flash mob the flash mob!” A Zoolander-style red carpet walk off ensued. As we all took our turns, myself included, the crowds surrounding the station grew. The host of ET Canada Erin Cebula rocking a blond wig was my favorite walk down the red carpet, simply amazing!
We were then joined by our stunning dinner dates for the evening: Carla Mitchell and Arinn April of Edelman PR. With the email now received, our group of nearly 200 made our way to the venue. The location turned out to be at the Jack Poole Plaza, over looking Coal Harbour. The group exited Waterfront station and merged with the 1200 person mob that was walking down water to the Vancouver Convention Center. As I walked into the venue, holding enough furniture and props to create a furniture store window, my eyes widened at the scene. Vancouver was transformed from a relaxed west coast oasis to a chic and luxe terrace party in Paris. We started to set up our tables, along with the other luckily participants. Our picnic included a complete charcuterie, Cupscakes Prosecco and, of course, a bottle of limited edition Courrèges Evian water. Because it’s French. Obvs.
After our table was set, I took a moment to run around the venue. People of all ages and walks of life were wearing costumes and outfits from traditional to period to various traditional religious garments, there was such diversity to the event. The crowd setting up looked as if it was a choreographed dance, everyone was practically in unison. I ran into some friends: Lyndi Barrett style maven and owner of LJ PR and her date fashion stylist Claudia Da Ponte. Both ladies looked effortlessly chic and beautiful. Kevin Mazzone of The Lazy Gourmet had a gorgeous table filled with delectable nibbles and sips. The best dressed man of the evening was Riaz Meghji, co-host on Breakfast Television. It’s always nice to see the men step it up.
The night officially began with a short welcoming speech. The entire crowd then raised their arms and waved white napkins wildly to signify that dinner was to begin, aligning with the tradition of DEB. The night was spent sharing great food and conversation. I spent some time talking to Danica Jeffery, a freelance writer and Vancouver editor to Noteable.ca.
After couple bottles of Prosecco and a roller coaster fo a food coma, the dinner was complete. The 1200-person crowd raised to their feet, and once again with tradition of DEB, all raised sparklers in the air. This was one of ‘those’ moments for me: surrounded by good friends, swaying in the twilight, holding the sparklers surrounded by Vancouver’s most amazing backdrops. The bands started to play and we all jumped from our chairs and headed to the dance floor. What better way to finish an enchanting evening than dancing Latin dance with 1200 people. Absolutely surreal!
Vancouver experienced a cultural event that you don’t often see. A mind blowing event like this is made possible because of the hard work of The Social Concierge and Mediatonic PR (lead by the talented Shelley Mantei) and people like Crystal Carson. When you are fortunate enough to get a group of creative minds together, anything can happen. The night was unforgettable. BRAVO. Until next time… xx- Joshua
Special thank you to: MediaTonic PR, The Social Concierge, Caya, Evian, Mondia Alliance, Alliance Francais, The Vancouver Convention Center, Chef Dale MacKay, and all of the other sponsers and people that made this happen.