Diner en Blanc draws 1,500
Now, you might wonder why anyone would want to go to a party in which they would have to lug in their own tables, chairs, decor AND food, but long before the original Le Dîner en Blanc was launched in Paris by Francois Pasquier in 1988 as a small and simple reunion of friends, here in Hawaii we were sort of doing the same with the backyard or garage potluck.
One big difference: As stylish as Parisians are, Francois and his pals dressed in white, albeit more as a way of spotting each other in a crowd than a fashion statement.
Today there are more than 60 Le Diner en Blanc events that take place around the world, and the largest is the original Paris event that brings together more than 15,000 people annually. Second runner-up is Montreal, Canada, with 5,500 guests.
And, as crazy as we are, I would think the two-year-old Honolulu event could eclipse that number in another couple of years. The event's aim is to grow every year, and grow it did. Last year's inaugural dinner drew 750 to Iolani Palace. This year, the number doubled to 1,500 people who flooded the green coastline at Ko Olina, bused in from pickup sites at Waterfront Plaza (Restaurant Row), Kahala and Kailua. Three thousand more were on the wait list.
The event was hosted in Hawaii by Malie Moran, Aubrey Akana and Maleko McDonnell.
Once we got there, tables were lined up and dressed, and when everyone was done, a waving of napkins signaled the start of the meal.
Last year, I covered this via my Take A Bite blog, but I consider it to me more about fashion and visuals than food. People bring in what they can in light of all the other prep they have to do.
I was fortunate to be at Thomas and Michele Conan Sorensen's table, catered by Stage at the Honolulu Design Center. The happy couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary in style, with 50 of their friends. The Stage menu was wonderful and quite healthy, with plenty of summery grilled vegetables and a salad of greens, mozzarella, avocado, quinoa and tomatoes.
Even so, those tomatoes can be like landmines for those in white, as one guest, Telepharoah "Teley" Brandon, learned when a tomato exploded onto his white jacket. He was already shirtless because he had deigned to wear an orange shirt under his jacket, but thought better of it when he saw everyone else dressed in pristine white.
I have to say, shopping for white was difficult. It's not my color. I don't look good in it. There are cute angelic summery dresses out there, but because they "glow" to the eyeball, it bulks you up.
I already had a casual Aeropostale skirt I wanted to wear and wanted to find a casual top but couldn't find one, so found a dressier one at White House/Black Market. In anticipation of finding a casual top, I had already bought a playful children's necklace at J. Crew. I wore it anyway, and accessorized with Ferragamo's Buckle sunglasses.
Here's a look at more of what I saw that evening:
For even more pictures from the event, click here.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.