For many in Vancouver, the day that July turns into August signals a pursuit for the perfect all-white outfit. Even if it is only worn once in the year, it is well worth the effort for The Social Concierge’s Dîner en Blanc celebration.
The 2019 edition was held in the gorgeous sun on the 8th day of the 8th month in False Creek’s George Wainburn Park, on 2.5 hectares of greenery situated between a tranquil harbour and the glass cityscape. Over 3,500 revellers arrived just before 6 pm via the seawall and on shuttle buses from all over the Lower Mainland.
Part of the appeal of the event comes from its secret location, only revealed to its guests an hour beforehand. Residents of the leafy and vibrant West End had no idea that their colourful neighbourhood was about to be invaded, and pedestrians and tourists alike looked surprised as crowds clad in white ambled by with carts and picnic baskets.
The impressive scale of the event makes it hard to believe that it started in Paris nearly 30 years ago with Le Dîner en Blanc de Paris welcoming over 10,000 guests yearly. In 2013 a record number of 15,000 people attended the 25th-anniversary celebration.
THE ORIGIN OF DINER EN BLANC
In 1988, on a warm summer night half-way around the world, a group of friends decided to meet underneath the Eiffel Tower for a reunion picnic. It was decided that the chicest way to distinguish themselves from throngs of tourists and native Parisians, was to wear all-white, leading to a memorable evening that has become an annual epicurean gathering.
Though it started small, it has grown internationally with over 70 cities participating in such far-flung locations as Auckland, Copenhagen, Dakar, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Sao Paolo. It arrived in Vancouver in 2012, and in 2018, founder François Pasquier and his wife, and members of the Dîner en Blanc organization attended the event at the incredible VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Canada is home to over a dozen events nationwide, and you can also dine in white in Whistler and Victoria every year.
THE NAPKINS ARE WAVED
Once all guests were settled in and had captured memories at various photo activation sites furnished by corporate sponsors De Beers Jewellery, National Bank, Concord Pacific, and Mile’s End Motors, host Tyson Villeneuve graciously welcomed all and prompted the ceremonial napkin wave to signal the official beginning of the evening.
As the sun meandered towards the horizon, meals were devoured, flutes of bubbles were topped up, and the production team distributed large sparklers and table candles to all the guests. Soon the night was filled with a sea of glittering lights against the starry night sky. At 10 pm, the evening came to a close and guests reluctantly began clearing and packing their tables and chairs for departure.
While many decry the event as one for the elite, others are drawn to be part of the larger-than-life spectacle, finding it is worth the effort of organizing your own experience. Attendees enjoy planning their white wardrobe, and a perfect meal with all the accoutrements that go into this evening of wonder.
For those who want to simplify the process, there is the option of choosing a pre-ordered 4-course meal for an additional fee.
This year, the menu was created by award-winning renowned Chef David Hawksworth with wines by Mark Anthony, bubbles by J.P. Chenet, and florals furnished by Flower Factory.
As another Diner en Blanc fades into memory, enjoy these extraordinary images by Kuna Lu Photography, and know that the spirit of this Parisian-style picnic will live on through social media posts, and will return in 2020 with a new location and the opportunity to create new friendships and unique moments.
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at [email protected].
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