I have lived in the Olde Garden (Savannah, GA) since I was in my very early 20’s. Coming from a family that entertained often in Mexico City, I could not wait to grow up and have my own social life. When I moved to Savannah without family, I dove head first into creating, as close as possible, a life that was like the busy social life I knew growing up. At the time, Savannah’s historic district, was populated with full time residents who entertained often and had wonderful annual parties, however all were of retired age, if not older, and I always found myself being the youngest person in the room. This is the landscape under which I started to create my own entertaining life. My approach was always different in the sense that I did not subscribe to any snobbery to the formulation of the guest list. I always mixed young and old, college students with writers, actors, social fixtures, the eccentric of the city and anyone I found interesting. 20 plus years ago, I was coming from a very cosmopolitan sophisticated city, as Mexico City was already, into a very sleepy, small southern town, right out of Steel Magnolias. So it was easy to seem more “grand” than the average 20 year old. No doubt had I landed in New York, another story would have been written.
In these years of hosting after parties exclusively for, symphony musicians after a masterworks concert, organizing dinners under a bamboo tent at the end of the summer on the beach or a picnic with full regalia of silver, china & crystal, set over a Persian rug during the annual Symphony in the Park, is where the name and myth of me as, HRH The Duchess of State began. For them, I had the “regal” bearing and entertaining flair that was not like anything they had seen before, certainly not in someone in their 20’s, and I happened to live on State Street, and so the Duchess of State name became my name. To date, many people refer to me simply as “the Duchess” and many still don’t know my name!
For me entertaining is about building a community, a sense of family, about showing appreciation for a cause or individual that inspires me or simply to bring people together to exchange ideas. Several years ago, I started a monthly Supper Club that takes place at a different house once per month. I have very strict rules that must be followed (such as written invitations only, dinner must be served, no buffets, a minimum of 5 courses plus dessert, among a few) the purpose is not to be “fancy”. It is meant to push the bounds of entertaining in the sit down dinner party genre with seamless elegance and high drama décor, and to perpetuate a standard and flair of living that is disappearing more and more each day. Table settings has always been a creative outlet for me and I enjoy the challenge of creating a new sensation, telling a story by using china, glassware, silverware and unexpected centerpieces to achieve this. A tale that takes a thousand dinners to tell.
“High Drama” to me is simply defined as allowing yourself to be as creative as you are, without the limitations of what is considered, etiquette, and more importantly always with the approach that you are setting the stage, for dining. Yes a little more theatrical, a little more daring, but why not? I say.
In the pages of this book you will see, several china sets, glassware and flatware used many times in many combinations. This was important, because I wanted to show, how we all really entertain, using all the various pieces we have, in various combinations, always to achieve a new look, based on a menu, an occasion or simply to experiment. After all dahhhling, I am not, I assure you, the Imelda Marcus of plates!
I trust you will enjoy, my take on table settings and that you also, may be inspired to go beyond the flowers, beyond the tablecloth & beyond the dining room, and to do it all, in High Drama!
Duchess of State
Alexandra Trujillo de Taylor