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March 24, 2014

Dressing Up Dinner

Text by Shirin Mehta. Photographs by Sushant Chhabria

Villeroy & Boch and Verve host an event to remember at the former’s store in Mumbai, and catch up with the effervescent Isabelle von Boch who shares her passion for porcelain with the motley group

It turned out to be a wonderful afternoon at the Villeroy & Boch store in Mumbai. Verve had invited 25 of the brightest young ladies, who appreciate the good things in life, to meet with Isabelle von Boch of Villeroy & Boch, makers of high-end dinnerware, crystal and bathroom accessories. The store looked festive with its elegant merchandise of colourful bone china, an eye-opener for those who thought fine dinnerware sets come embellished only with gold or silver. Jettisoning bone china into this century is Villeroy & Boch with their new shapes, colours and designs.


After the wine — Fratelli Wines’ Sangiovese Bianco (White), Merlot (Red), Gran Cuvee Brut (Sparkling) — and the delicious snacks had done the rounds as also the socialising, came the main event. Isabelle von Boch spoke of her passion for bone china, explaining that, contrary to what people think, it is the strongest material that can be used to create dinnerware due to the use of bone ash. Standing in front of a totally bemused audience, like a juggler, she played with plates, mugs, cups, saucers, tossing around colours, mixing, matching and creating entire tablescapes in the air. She matched an assortment of table mats in different hues with the tableware. She placed plates within plates and bowls within plates and changed the look from casual, to formal, to breakfast, to dinner. Her sense of colour as well as her sense of combining patterns and colours kept her select audience completely mesmerised. Here was someone who could offer women with fine homes such fascinating tips on how to make the most of their tables, taking entertaining to a whole new level of perfection. This was not a question of selling plates and cups, but rather an entire lifestyle!

ISABELLE VON BOCH ON BUYING DINNERWARE….

Do not keep your best dinnerware in storage, use it and enjoy it every day.
Do not use the same dinnerware in the morning as in the night.
If you like more than one design, you do not need to choose. Get a breakfast set in one design, plates in another, dessert plates, tea sets, and so on. Do not use the same teapot every day, change it from one day to the next. Do not overload on any one thing, go with variety.
Choose whatever you like, go with your gut. Mix and match and create your own individual style. Do not go with the boring everything-the-same look.
Take a piece of your existing dinnerware into the Villeroy & Boch store to mix and match, adding new pieces for a new look.
Always buy the best which will not break and chip, it will last you for 30 years or more.

ISABELLE VON BOCH DRESSES UP A MEAN TABLE….

The big thing is to have a stack of placemats. The placemats are the clothes of the table. You can work them to create a modern edgy masculine look, a soft feminine look…. Pick up the colours in your plate and change the look every time.
Always have fresh flowers, ‘fresh anything’. A central bowl of floating flowers from your garden if you have one, a crystal bowl with flowers…use objects in your house like figurines and bowls. Always add candles.
Go seasonal in your look….for autumn do the colour tones of burnt orange and olive, for Christmas, use pine bowls and figurines.
In India, decorate according to the festivals – use lights and flowers.
Always eat in candlelight at night, making every dinnertime a special occasion.
Do not allow plastic bottles and packaging on the table, whether it is ketchup or mustard.
Do not allow any electronics, phones or computers at the table.

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