Dîner en Blanc returns on August 13 for its seventh consecutive year in Montreal and we couldn’t be more excited to attend. What started out as a word-of-mouth event in Paris 27 years ago has now gained popularity throughout America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific. Uniting fashion lovers and foodies, this event is expected to host 6,000 attendees this year, up from its 5,500 attendees last year. Imagine an open-air picnic where everyone is dressed in white, enjoying sparklers and performers in an elegant setting. One of the most exciting things about this night is the secret location that is only announced 15 minutes prior to the event.
We chatted with Aymeric Pasquier, the entrepreneur behind Dîner en Blanc International, about the event.
theFashionSpot: Dîner en Blanc is a one-of-a-kind event. Where did the concept originate from?
Aymeric Pasquier: My father, François Pasquier, brought his family from France to Tahiti (French Polynesia) for two years. When he returned to Paris, he wanted to host a return home party whereby friends would bring a dish and a new friend. Too many people wanted to come and the guest list soon grew to a size that couldn’t be contained by their backyard garden, so he decided to meet in a public place and dress in white as a way to recognize each other. They also had to bring their own tables, chairs and accessories. There were originally 300 people. From year to year, friends were inviting friends and the Dîner en Blanc Paris has now grown to host between 10,000 and 15,000 guests each year.
tFS: How would you describe the experience to someone who has never attended the event?
AP: There are many components that can explain the success of the DEB all over the world. One of them, and probably the most important, is the “commitment” of the guests. They don’t pay an expensive fee, but they need to “work” to participate. They also commit to respect many regulations and principles. DEB also has 27 years of history. It has been created and grew up through the years in a very particular way that makes it so special. The DEB also brings a formal and elegant presence to a location that is beautiful and rarely (or never) utilized as a dining location. As guests are participants in the event and not just “spectators,” these rules help ensure a successful evening for all.
tFS: What can people expect this year? Any clues you can give us?
AP: Dîner en Blanc has certain components that change every year, but the concept itself remains the same through every edition. For example, the location remains secret, but it changes every year. The performers are kept secret, but they change every year. As a first experience, guests generally appreciate the magic atmosphere of the evening and the wow visual effect of this sea of white, the friendly atmosphere and the very memorable sparkler time moment. We try to surprise returning guests not only by the choice of the venue, but also with dancers, musicians, singers. Returning guests can sponsor one table of friends every year, so it creates groups of friends of friends that are all interconnected with each other.
tFS: How do you decide on a location and chef?
AP: There are not many places that can host a Dîner en Blanc with 5,000 people. Criteria to select a venue are mainly the following: The venue has to be one of the most beautiful ones of the city. If possible, surrounded by historical buildings. It has to be central and in contact with the city. It has to fit the exact number of guests. Not too big and not too small. Regarding the culinary aspect of the event, many people who participate in the event like the gastronomic component. Jérôme Ferrer is one of the most well-known chefs in Montreal and he is really a fan of the Dîner en Blanc. His French origins fit perfectly with the event and we are very proud that he decided to create surprise picnic boxes for DEB participants. We encourage people to bring food themselves, but some of them prefer to treat themselves by ordering picnic baskets that are delivered onsite the night of the event. Europea is our official caterer this year and I think the guests who will order these “surprises boxes” won’t be disappointed.
If you are interested in attending the event this year and want to purchase a ticket and find out what you should bring to the event, you can view all the details on the Dîner en Blanc site. We’ll be there, too! Now, let’s get back to THE most exciting part of all: what to wear. We’ll be sharing some all-white outfit inspiration in the coming days, so stay tuned.