I Visited Kathy Hilton's Home For The Ultimate Summer Garden Party
The renowned hostess discusses proper party etiquette.
As a Los Angeles native, I’ve long heard rumblings and stories of the epic parties thrown at the Hilton estate in Bel Air, and the magic that hostess with the mostest Kathy Hilton conjures in her home. So, when I finally, at the ripe age of 36, received an elusive invite to the famous mansion, I confirmed my attendance in a minute flat. The party, you see, was in partnership with one of my favorite maximalist brands LoveShackFancy and its stunning new summer home collection, so I knew this event (a tea party, no less) would be nothing short of enchanting. And I was correct.
In pulling into the curved (and cleverly shrub-shrouded) driveway, I felt butterflies in my stomach, a sensation I hadn’t felt since my senior prom nearly two decades ago. This was gonna be good. not only was I visiting an LA landmark (in my book anyway), but I was going to be in the presence of one Queen hostess Kathy Hilton, who stole my heart — and that of the world — in her meteoric Season 11 debut of The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills. But, it must be said, even before reality TV stardom, the famous mother of four had already made a name for herself in the interior design and entertaining worlds.
“I really love [entertaining],” says Hilton to me at the LoveShackFancy tea party. “I love setting up the party and organizing everything more than the party itself. I’m involved with everything, every step of the way. I love to do my own flower when I’m able to, I pick out every piece of silver and decide whether I’m going to do silver and glass, or glass and crystal, or porcelains. I love all tabletop.”
It’s no surprise then, that this fête in question, featuring LoveShackFancy’s whimsical pink, floral linens and tableware gave Hilton a lot to work with. It also felt like a natural fit for the grand, yet saccharine home filled with whimsical touches, soft pastel color palettes, and pristine white and ivory furniture.
The event itself was the stuff of Instagram gold. Rich pink florals covered the entryway banister, welcoming guests with a feast for the eyes. To the left, a dining room (one of many, I’m sure) featured a large spread of decadent cakes, pastries, and colorful candies, fit for Marie Antoinette. As you made your way to the backyard veranda, a large vintage bed (yes, bed) met you, dressed in LoveShackFancy’s periwinkle floral bedding — the latest from the summer collection.
Traditional tea party treats were passed around — finger sandwiches, scones, chicken salad bites — and a full bar of tea (infused with booze if you so chose), sparkling water, wine, and pink lemonade, was stationed next to a booming DJ booth. All around, brightly decorated and floral-clad tables provided seating for those who didn’t feel like roaming the Hilton grounds. (Although, you can imagine very few actually sat down.)
“We wanted to have beautiful florals to transport you, and Kathy always has that,” says Rebecca Hessel Cohen, founder of LoveShackFancy, to TZR. “And it was really just bringing the indoors outdoors, as well.”
Perhaps the most novel aspect of one of Hilton’s super-social parties is that they’re hard to come by these days, as entertaining is “a dying breed” says the reality star. Even I needed to brush up on my tea party etiquette with Hilton and Hessel Cohen.
“Don’t leave early!” laughs the LoveShackFancy founder. Hilton cosigns, stating “None of this 10-minute and good-bye business. It makes other people look at their watch and say they have to go, too.”
Also, for those with entertaining chops, Hilton suggests embracing assigned seating. “Everybody wants to know they have a home,” she says. “I like to have buffets. And if you have a buffet, you’re going to stop and talk to everyone and you don’t want to end up sitting with people you don’t know. So, place cards are important.”
As a “good friend” the reality star says she’s not above helping out a hostess in need, even as a guest. “Like, if the music is too loud or the lights are too bright, and they don’t know better because they have too many things on their mind. I’ll whisper, ‘Do you mind if I go handle it?’” says Hilton.
Even without Queen Kathy at your side, hosting a Hilton-standard party does not need to be difficult, or expensive. Hessel Cohen explains little special touches like hand-written menus, beautiful place settings and napkins can elevate a party instantly, sans hitting the wallet too hard. the founder explains: “As long as you incorporate flowers in some capacity and have beautiful table linens, you can transform [any setting].”
Perhaps there’s hope for this “dying breed” then? Hilton says yes: “They just have to be shown.”
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