Parisian ceramicist Cécile Daladier throws four parties every year: one per season, and each with its own theme. Not long ago, Daladier, her partner Nicolas Soulier, and their friend Lucile Demory found themselves shucking 350 oysters and pouring white wine for their "White and Mother-of-Pearl" dinner party.
Daladier felt the theme was nicely aligned with her ceramics, so she designed pieces just for the event (the parties are an understated way for her to showcase new work and connect with old and new friends). First, she molded oyster shells in clay and glazed them in an opaque white. Then, drawing inspiration from rustic cheese boards, Daladier designed flat slab ceramics for her homemade loaves of bread. Her son knows a fisherman in Normandy, and a friend drove from Paris to fetch several bushels of oysters the day of the party. Daladier, Soulier, and Demory shucked the oysters, finishing the task moments before the guests arrived. As Demory says, "You can't open them too early, otherwise they'll dry out so it's a lot of last-minute work." In addition to the oysters, the menu included white and opalescent fare: brie, white wine, yogurt ice cream, and rice pudding.
If you're like us and dream of re-creating this look, see how Daladier threw the party together and some of the key sources below. For more of her work, go to Flower Arranging à la Parisienne and A Ceramicist and Architect in Paris.
Photography via Cécile Daladier's Journal.
Above: The table setting before the party.
Above: Source a gigantic round of brie-style soft cheese to feed hungry guests.
Above: Demory and Daladier pulled in a large table on wheels from the studio: "We just added pieces of wood all around it to make the edges higher. Then we stapled a big plastic sheet to the wood to keep the ice from running when it melted," Demory says.
Above: A dormant fern called a Selaginella lepidophylla (or Jericho flower) unfurls in a white dish on the ice-covered table. Source an individual Jericho Flower from Amazon for $5.42.
Above: Demory notes, "The great thing about oysters is that you don't need a plate, just a little fork, so no dishes involved."
Above: Ceramics are molded from beach shells, then coated in a high-gloss white glaze.
Above: Daladier's matte-glazed bread boards have a rustic, seashell-like appeal.
Above: Crates of oysters from Normandy.
Above: Daladier's oyster-inspired serving dishes.
Above: Cover your tabletop with parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap—and be sure to double up; Regency Natural Parchment Paper is $4.95 from Sur La Table.
Above: Ikea's Salvka Red Wine Glass is a quick fix for an impromptu party, priced at $4.79 for a pack of six.
Above: The 50-ounce Pinch Carafe is $19.95 at Crate & Barrel.
Above: The Mechanical Polder 11-Pound Stainless Steel Kitchen Scale is $27.27 from Amazon.
Above: To purchase Daladier's ceramics, contact her directly via Cécile Daladier.
For more entertaining ideas, see:
- Gals Only: A Galentine's Party for Valentine's Day
- Retro Valentine's Workshop in Echo Park
- DIY: High-Style, Low-Cost Party Decor
- 5 Quick Fixes: Countdown to an Effortless Dinner Party
This post is an update; the original ran on October 16, 2012, as part of our West Marin and Beyond issue.