The art of hosting is a complicated affair and, as we learned from Dorothée Boissier, choosing the right food and wine is only half the story. The setting and the chemistry between guests are also just as important. The interior designer – who with her partner Gilles Boissier is behind some of the world’s top establishments, from the Café de l’Homme that faces the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the splendid Baccarat Hotel in New York – talks us through her secrets for hosting the perfect dinner party.
What does the art of hosting comprise?
The art of hosting is a moment that is shared, a desire to spend together short but intense moments. A moment that is made for sharing, exchanging, and listening, but also a time for really getting to know yourself.
How would you define good taste?
Feeling comfortable with yourself.
What defines a successful event? What is the magic ingredient?A good event takes into account the chemistry between guests, the fact that they want to spend time together and want to “fit in” and connect with each other. Body language, dialogue, a sense of humor, and spirit make up an essential part of our communication. The magic ingredients: candles and flowers. Candles, because their light lends a certain mystery to the face; and flowers for their freshness and spontaneous beauty.
When you host at home, what’s your secret weapon?
The presence of a good friend is always reassuring.
What does your home say about you?
Interior design says a lot about the home owner. It’s through their home that you can tap into their character. They furnish and decorate it in a way that is pleasing to them, that they deem to be best for their wellbeing. You first choose a location and then think about size, textures, furniture, as well as some other less personal elements. Certain people express themselves a lot through their interiors, others less, but it’s possible to already get an idea of their personality.
When it comes to design, must you prioritize a statement piece (and the “wow” factor that goes with it) or do you prioritize consistency in style?
Guests like being surprised, touched by a space they don’t know; a space where they discover another facet of their host. We like to show our guests around, sometimes showing them rooms that have different personalities, which highlight the host’s differences. It can be surprising to go from a dark wood paneled hallway to an immaculate white living room, and to continue the evening in a dining room with a fabric lining and marble floors. But it’s not an exact recipe, because every host has their own.
What is your guilty pleasure when it comes to food and wine?
I only drink with certain clients and/or connoisseurs of exceptional wines. As I am not an expert, I prefer to be guided by their knowledge and tastes. One of our American clients, for instance, brings grand cru wines that we sample in the restaurants he selects. I taste all the wines, in small quantities, but I appreciate these unusual tastings. Château d'Yquem is my favorite.
What is the taste of the future?
One that grows with love, attention and passion.