Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

12.02.2010

Debra Shriver's Tale of Two Cities

[The UNICEF Snowflake suspended at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. Photo by WallyG.] 

[ Ralph Lauren flagship store on Madison Avenue.]

[Marbled paper via  Paper Mojo; macaroons via Sucre; mercury glass via Andrew Spindler Antiques; and image of Debra Shriver courtesy Shriver.]

She's a 12th-generation Southerner but Debra Shriver kicks off her busy holiday schedule in New York. In fact, it's already in high gear. One of the most significant events in her date book, UNICEF's Snowflake lighting and gala, which she helps organize each year to support the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, took place a few days ago.

[The UNICEF Snowflake suspended at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. Photo by WallyG.] 

Other NYC rituals include taking in a performance of 'Revelations' by Alvin Ailey at City Center and hosting an annual holiday lunch for about 30 girlfriends. This year, Marcus Samuellson is opening his new eatery, Red Rooster Harlem, where he'll serve a Southern menu and an 'Uptown Girl' cocktail (stay tuned for the recipe).


And, of course, there are the glorious windows. Shriver and her husband make a point to see the window dressers' magic at Barney's and Bergdorf's. This year, the new Ralph Lauren store on Madison is on their itinerary, too.


A serious jazz enthusiast, music keeps her connected to the South, in particular her adopted home, New Orleans. (She and her husband have three-year-old shihtzus named for Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.) So, they begin with holiday renditions by Ella and Louis, later adding to the mix some Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney, and Aaron Neville. Although, Shriver's husband is most happy with "all Elvis all-the-time."



[Mercury glass via Andrew Spindler Antiques; paper whites via White Flower Farm.]

They land in New Orleans on Christmas Eve. Without much time to decorate, Shriver hangs vintage red damask stockings on the mantle and fills her downstairs double parlors with mercury glass vases in all sizes. Each holds paper whites or amaryllis.

[Photograph by Maura McEvoy  
©Stealing Magnolias: Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard by Debra Shriver, Glitterati, Inc. 2010.]

They make spiced pecans, serve oysters and a lot of shellfish with prosecco, and end the year with a "come as you are" open house where they serve gumbo d'herbes (gumbo with kale and greens) and Louisiana caviar (a fancy black-eyed pea salad). Shriver adds,  "Every Southerner knows you must serve 'beans and greens' for good luck."

[Photograph by Maura McEvoy  
©Stealing Magnolias: Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard by Debra Shriver, Glitterati, Inc. 2010.]

BTW: Mouth-watering recipes abound in her book, Stealing Magnolias.  It's also clear from Shriver's ode to NOLA that she loves textiles. No surprise, then, that she chooses wrappings for her holiday gifts that resemble fabrics -- shimmery solids, toile or marbled paper.

[Renato Crepaldi's hand-marbled paper. Image via Paper Mojo.]

"I choose two color schemes and go with that and top presents with vintage cards and a small 'S' card created for me by New Orleans stationer Alexa Pulitzer," Shriver explains. The author also enjoys sending Sucre macaroons from New Orleans to friends everywhere. "They specialize in Southern flavors but also do limited holiday flavors. Yummy packaging, too. Close your eyes and you’re in Paris."


Catch Shriver at the Ogden museum's upcoming event, The Art of Giving. Click here for details.


Related past post: Lagniappe.

[Photo of Mary Randolph Carter copyright © Sara Beth Turner.]

To learn more about marbled paper, click here. Searching for reproduction mercury glass? Try Mothology. To experience a rustic holiday in Virginia's Northern Neck, click here.

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