Paula was born on February 29, during a leap year...so she only has a real opportunity to properly celebrate her birthday every four years. With this being her 60th birthday...and the fact that we had a February 29th on our calendar for 2020, Paula had an even elevated reason to celebrate. The decision was made to title her birthday party her 15th and 60th birthday…15/60 being the logo. We all joked that Jeff being married to a 15-year-old is still illegal in most countries. Paula and Jeff jointly decided, that this might be a wonderful opportunity to also renew their wedding vows, since all of their dear friends and family would already be gathered in celebration. Paula and Jeff's wedding was very intimate and very impromptu, with only Paula's beautiful daughter, Meredith, (from a previous marriage) in attendance.
Paula enlisted the creative services of myself, not only to design and create her gown for the evening, but to also lend creative ideas in planning the evening's festivities. Also enlisted as the event coordinator and protocol expert, was Tiffany Divis, whose unparalleled logistical, creative and organizational talents were honed during her service to the White House and the Office of Protocol in the State Department during the Bush administration. Tiffany's attention to exacting detail and world-wide connections, made for a seemingly effortless flow during the planning and execution of the entire evening. Paula and Jeff requested that the only persons privy to the secret renewal of vows, would be Meredith, Tiffany, myself...and of course the officiant. After months of planning...the evening was a tremendous success, and the entire group of distinguished guests was in complete surprise of the wedding ceremony. Paula and Jeff's daughter, Meredith, was simply goddess-like as Master of Ceremony throughout the evening.
Paula's enthusiasm for champagne, and the effervescence it exudes, lent to the creative stream of the evening as well the creation of her couture gown....champagne and champagne bubbles. This, coupled with Paula's inherent beauty and grace were key, as inspiration for the gown. A body conforming silhouette, releasing to an undulant flow at fingertip length, allowed for graceful and unencumbered movement as Paula glided amongst her guests. Layers of sheer dove grey tulle, sage green Chantilly lace and semi-opaque nude lining created the alluring foundation. Hand cut and sewn silver and gold metallic leather paillettes, were stacked and scattered on the tulle to reflect the effect of releasing champagne bubbles. I wanted to quietly elude to the formality of a bridal veil or train with the design, but in no way suggest the particular reverence of a traditional bridal veil. Thus removable floor length sleeve panels which fell from the shoulders, were held in place by metallic leather "bumble bee" form epaulettes, evoking a personal and sentimental memory for Paula. Continuing with the couple's admiration for bespoke clothing, Jeff called upon the talents of his tailor at Clements and Church to create his look for the event. Jeff had a black evening suit created to wear with a formal dress shirt, complete with black stud fastening, his tie was champagne coloured silk, perfectly complementing Paula's gown.
At the conclusion of the formal dinner and dance, was the presentation of the birthday cake, which was created in the form of a champagne bottle nestled in a champagne bucket of ice. It was at this moment, that a second wave of guests flowed into the room to join in the revelry, which then spread to the rooftop bar and lounge. As Paula celebrated her special birthday with her dearest friends, no one was fully aware that when they bade farewell to February and welcomed March, that this evening would be the last of the grand, gathered celebrations for some time to come. Now, we now sit alone, in isolation, cherishing our families and counting our blessings. Remembering the joy and celebratory gatherings, we quietly dream of when we can once again, don our finest, embrace our friends and dance with our loved ones.
Hopefully, it will happen before Paula turns 16/64.
Words By Michael Faircloth Images by Tamytha Cameron