What's the quintessential New Orleans hostess to do when Mr. Party swings into town? Throw a welcome bash, of course. Which is precisely what Jane Scott Hodges, founder of and a Natipernavigare contributing editor, did when she learned that San Francisco decorator Ken Fulk — a good friend whose own legendary soirees have featured everything from camels to burlesque dancers — would be passing through the Big Easy. "Everybody here loves a party!" Hodges says.
To create an evening to rival one of Fulk's magical fetes, Hodges filled her Greek Revival home in the Garden District with live music while transforming nearly every room into its own mini destination — like the Champagne bar in the study or the seafood-boil buffet in the dining room. The guest of honor grabbed a glass of bubbly and got right into the celebratory spirit: "If you're not up for a good time in New Orleans," Fulk says, "then hang up your top hat and stay home!"
"Half the fun of a party is the anticipation! I enlisted an artist to create memorable handmade invitations and had them hand-delivered, signaling to all that a special evening was to come."
New Orleans artist Suzanne Lossi of Lossi Designs created this handmade invitation.
"The dining room doors were closed when guests arrived, then opened midevening to reveal a beautiful bayou-inspired tableau of driftwood, flowers and food," she says. "Margaret Ludwig [of Giverny Design], a young florist I admire, composed arrangements of roses, larkspurs, scabiosas, parrot tulips, stock and lisianthuses in shades of lavender and peach inspired by the iridescent tones in an oyster shell."
A family heirloom portrait hangs above the dining room mantel on a wall sheathed in a Ralph Lauren Home grass cloth.
"I wanted guests to come and go at their leisure," she says. "My caterer, Randolph Tucker Fitz-Hugh, Jr., and I devised a deconstructed seafood boil of shrimp, potatoes and lemons with a red rémoulade sauce that could be served all evening long. People helped themselves to small plates, then scattered to different rooms to enjoy."
The dining room's buffet is set with Leontine Linens monogrammed napkins and a mix of Herend and Mottahedeh plates.
"We set up stations around the house and garden, like a bourbon bar on my writing desk and a Champagne bar on the console in the upstairs study, to encourage guests to move about and explore."
In the parlor, a bourbon bar is set up on an antique desk from Ware M. Porter & Co.; the artwork is by Mallory Page.
"Music is a key element in creating an experience," Hodges says. "In New Orleans, we treasure our brass bands. To welcome my dear friend Ken Fulk, I invited a trio of jazz musicians to perform on the front balcony as guests arrived. It really set a festive tone for the evening."
In the upstairs study of her New Orleans home, the walls are covered in Crescent wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler for Groundworks, and the curtains are in Schumacher's Pyne Hollyhock.
"Part of the pleasure of entertaining is dreaming up all the little things that make the night feel personal," she says. "I stocked the powder room with tiny French soaps and my monogrammed linens. There's this wonderful feeling of joy when it all comes together."
In the powder room, the sink and faucet are by Kohler; the walls are covered in Cole & Son's Gondola wallpaper.
This story originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Natipernavigare.