It was a homecoming of sorts for fashion designer Lela Rose as she exchanged air kisses with Tootsies' Fady Armanious and Penne Weidig. As the Dallas native would explain later over lunch, Tootsies was one of the first retailers in the country to carry her feminine-focused designs.
On this day, the store was filled with trunk show racks of beguiling styles from her spring collection, stacks of her new book on entertaining, Pret-A-Party, pieces from her new handbag collection and selections from her line of high-fashion oven mitts, made from designer fabrics.
"I feel like it's Lela Rose everything today!" she exclaimed as she donned an oven mitt that matched her pants ensemble.
Ladies attending the charity luncheon, hosted by Carol Linn, might have swooned over Rose's cocktail clutches made from Plexiglass with lace inlays, python and stingray, each featuring a signature citrine lining and geometric closures. But this writer was focusing on the designer's penchant for mega-entertaining.
Long recognized as one of Manhattan's most gifted and passionate party hosts, Rose shares here expertise in the book and in the day's luncheon chatter. Her Tribeca home, she said, is designed with a dining table that rises from the floor to connect with one that comes down from the ceiling enabling her to seat 68 for dinner. (Yes, the apartment is that big — 6,000 square feet.)
With a kitchen large enough to handle a serious crowd, she hasn't been timid about inviting The French Laundry's Tom Keller, Mario Batali and other leading chefs to join the party in the home that Rose shares with her hedge fund financier husband Brandon Jones.
Rose admits that she and her husband enjoy entertaining at home so much that they set the table for guests three or four times a week!
While her entertaining motif includes specialty cocktails, quirky venues and personal recipes, the book weds fashion and entertaining. "Match your drink to your dress. Match your dress to your table. It's all about using creativity in every aspect."
Her creativity is revealed throughout the book that features several of her top parties including Tea-Quila: A Tea Party With a Twist, White Christmas: A Dressed-Up Holiday Dinner and Couples' Cook-Off: A Potluck of Prizes.