Party Planning 101

This is one of those times in the year when industry events—from showroom visits to cocktail receptions to luncheons—cluster. While JCK’s style team has them all covered and will bring you the best of everything in our fall issues, last night I attended a particular event that inspired me to comment not on jewelry, but on party planning itself. Given the time and energy (not to mention money), that goes into events—be it a designer launching a new line, or a retailer hosting a trunk show—let this serve as a cautionary tale.

During a particularly heavy rainstorm, a group of JCK-ers walked to the Gramercy Park Hotel (the much-buzzed-about Ian Shrager property) for a Carrera y Carrera event in a suite overlooking the park. All the elements of a quintessential New York fashion party were in place: trendy location, soft background music, gorgeous products, the scent of enormous long-stemmed roses, and beautiful people.

When we arrived, two publicists checked our names and said nothing else. So, we entered, carrying umbrellas that dripped all over the carpet (and our feet and legs; and those of anyone unfortunate enough to come too close). Cases of jewelry were the focal point, so we gravitated immediately to those, the four of us making the rounds from case to case through two separate rooms. There were a fair number of people in each room, but the space was far from crowded. Security lurked, as would be expected, as we tried on several pieces and took some photographs.

Then we wandered back to the first room, stood around for a while, had a glass of wine, stood around for a little while longer, then made our way out. The entire time we were there, not one person from the company said a word to us. I would have been happy to introduce myself, but no one was even identified as being from the company or, if it was the case, their public relations firm. There were definitely some publicist-y looking people around. But, instead of smiling and greeting us, they just eyed us. It was rather like going to a party where everyone thinks they’re too cool to talk to anyone else and sticks with their little cliques. Need I even elaborate on how much of a problem this is at a business-related event?!

This morning, flipping through the lookbooks, I discovered that the entire collection was inspired by Ava Gardner, because she had lived in and loved Carrera y Carrera’s native Spain. What a great concept! And what a shame I had no idea of that during the event. I must say, some of the pieces are positively gorgeous and, as the editor of the industry’s primary source for fashion information (JCKstyle), perhaps would have tried to pull something for a shoot… but the lookbook and CD I picked up on my way out included neither a business card nor contact number.

The lesson is this: it really is all about the service. Whether someone is walking into a jewelry store or into a swanky event, if you’re the host, make sure—and I mean ABSOLUTELY sure—that each guest is greeted. Make sure they know who you are, how to contact you, and feel comfortable within your space (i.e., no one should be schlepping around dripping umbrellas at a cocktail party while balancing bags and a wine glass, and looking at jewelry). Otherwise, it’s a waste of time, energy and money that will yield little more than frustration—for your guests who walk away feeling snubbed and for you, who won’t see them come back.

JCK Art Director Todd Gast, me, JCK senior copy editor 
Toni Rumore and her umbrella standing around by ourselves
at the Carrera y Carrera event

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