Olivia Chantecaille only had to gaze at the riotous peonies, mallows, roses, and alliums abloom in her family’s East Hampton garden to find inspiration for this alfresco birthday dinner for her mother Sylvie. “All the flowers are exuberant and exploding with color right now,” says Chantecaille, the creative director of the eponymous botanical-based cosmetic brand co-founded by her French-born mère. “I wanted to embrace that peak summer feel with an elegant tablescape.” Held on the terrace overlooking the lush greenery, with buzzing bees and butterflies constantly darting by—“we plant flowers that specifically attract and support pollinators, and there’s a beehive in the back of the garden”—this year’s celebration was more intimate than previous get-togethers, with a guest list limited to close family members, all quarantining in a pod due to the pandemic.
Wanting the smaller-scale party to seem “lively and magical,” Chantecaille created a tablescape that’s formal but not stuffy, with a floral print from Schumacher, sophisticated pink hues, and gleaming silver and gold accents. The locally-sourced seasonal menu, including cool melon soup, sea bass, fresh corn salad, and summer squash galettes, all seasoned with fresh herbs snipped from the potager, nodded to the relaxed outdoor setting and East Hampton’s storied history as a fishing and farming community.
As the sun set on the sultry, flower-scented evening, everyone in the tight-knit Chantecaille family lingered over decadent French pastries reminiscent of the cakes Sylvie grew up with in Paris, and recalled her previous birthdays, and the jubilant crowds of attendant friends and family. Although this year’s gathering was more subdued, “it was full of life, and joy, and love. We turned the limitations of quarantine into a special and beautiful memory,” says Chantecaille.
Below, we take a deeper dive into Olivia’s dinner party!