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A dinner in a garden is always a wonderful idea. When the dinner is inside, high above Central Park, it’s even better. No raindrops to keep falling on your head, which they’ve been doing in New York so much lately you could scream.
Lily Safra, recognized as one of the richest women in the world, a renowned philanthropist and a brilliant hostess, wanted to try something different for her most recent New York dinner. So, why not a garden party in the sky? Preston Bailey, the noted designer, was called in to create that vision. So what he did was take an empty apartment, one of two that Lily owns on Fifth Avenue, and turn it into a gorgeous setting with scenes straight from the French countryside with billions of blossoms in full bloom.
After drinks, before dinner in Lily’s other magnificent apartment on a higher floor, 60 guests were led downstairs to a destination unknown. When the elevator opened, 60 jaws dropped at the sight of a fabulous “conservatory,” fragrant with the smell of all those flowers. The foyer was decorated with huge images of gardens on the walls with hand-strung rose petals re-creating hanging wisteria in white and lavender. The “conservatory” walls were covered with 9-foot weathered latticework painted soft green and yellow. Hanging garlands of dendrobium orchids attached to 7-foot-tall columns built of elephant ear branches created a replica of a lovely garden folly.
For dinner, an intimate dining space was carved from a 47-foot-long empty room with 10-foot-high trellises painted in celadon hues. The ceiling was draped with a wire grid where thousands of white petals were strung together in hanging strands attached to fragrant lemon leaves to create the effect of dining under a giant wisteria tree. The walls were covered with printed screens with lilac rose petals gathered to seem as though they were dripping from the walls. The tables were centered with white peonies from Holland, cymbidium orchids, lavender sweet peas, blue hyacinths and Australian dendrobium orchids. At each window there were trellis arbors draped with celadon and pink Fatima orchid “curtains” outlining the park views. It was a scene of great beauty and those 60 who have been everywhere and done everything could hardly believe their eyes.