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The end of 2020 is near, and its last few days call for a toast to something new. Lucky for us, St-Germain is hosting a virtual series of videos starring three creatives to get us in the holiday spirit. Today and tomorrow at 6 p.m. EST, viewers can tune in to Salon St-Germain on Facebook Live and YouTube Live—via a no-cost registration on EventBrite—from the comfort of their homes.
The inaugural series takes us behind the scenes and into the homes of interior designer Sasha Bikoff, plant stylist Hilton Carter, and the brand's North American ambassador Earlecia Richelle for tips on how to host an avant-garde holiday soirée. Each night, they will guide the viewers through their personally designed spaces, giving tips and tricks on how to embrace festive creativity this year.
Each Salon St-Germain session draws hints of inspiration from the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood in Paris—from historic art movements to the 1,000 elderflowers found in each bottle of liqueur. Colorful tablescapes, curated cocktails, and special design pieces will be highlighted by each creative, giving the public a closer look at their work.
Tonight's series kicks off with "Art Deco & Cubism," and tomorrow's is anchored in "Surrealism." Ahead of its debut, Whitewall spoke with Bikoff, Carter, and Richelle about their personalized installations for Salon St-Germain, how to make the perfect cocktail, and what they’re grateful for this season.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with St-Germain for its inaugural Salon St-Germain series?
SASHA BIKOFF: I’m thrilled to be a part of the first team of creatives brought together to kick off this new series for St-Germain, offering people out-of-the-box inspiration for holiday entertaining in a year that’s been like no other. It’s been a collaborative experience working with Hilton and Earlecia to come up with these amazing shopping lists, tips, and tricks to help people elevate their décor and hosting game this season.
The virtual Salons evolve around the iconic art movements that flourished in the Parisian neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where I lived during my college years, so it’s been extra fun for me to create different holiday entertaining moments tying into Art Deco, Cubism, and Surrealism.
HILTON CARTER: As a plant stylist, author, and artist, I get to work with many different types of creatives, but Salon St-Germain has brought together such a unique crew—between Sasha, Earlecia, and myself—and it’s been a rewarding collaborative journey.
What I particularly love about this series is that we’re celebrating the art of at-home entertaining, working with elements that we live and breathe in our everyday lives. I’m excited to be able to share my experience with guests virtually and provide inspiration to get creative at home during these tough times.
EARLECIA RICHELLE: I’m so excited to be a part of this new chapter for St-Germain. This new series is an evolution of our annual summer solstice event—Maison St-Germain—that launched in 2017 in celebration of the 1,000 elderflowers in every bottle. With the current state of everything, and being unable to host an immersive, in-person experience, the team came together to conceptualize the evolution of the program with the virtual experience that is Salon St-Germain.
Similar to years past, I’m working alongside other creative visionaries to offer inspiration on creative ways to transform ordinary moments into something extraordinary.
WW: How has the ongoing pandemic impacted your creativity?
SB: During the pandemic, I’ve been at my new home in East Hampton. Though it might not be obvious at first glance, my work is deeply inspired by nature—primarily man’s interaction and reaction to it. In East Hampton, I’m surrounded by water and, as such, I’ve been playing around with waterscapes for some of my clients.
Even in my own home, I’ve brought in the natural world. My goal with this space was to bring the outdoors in. The house is made from white French oak and most of the furniture plays back to nature, whether it’s a wave form on the dining room table; a textile pattern on the banquette that hearkens back market vegetables; or beach sand worked into plaster finishes.
But overall, despite the fact that this is such a challenging time period on a variety of different levels, I finally have time to myself, which has only helped foster the creative process.
HC: Honestly the pandemic has been bittersweet. While it has kept me from seeing friends and family and going about my normal day to day, it made me figure out how to use my at-home time creatively. I started doing virtual plant workshops and even created a new book.
ER: The majority of my time is typically spent traveling for work, and that’s usually where I get a lot of inspiration. But this year, because traveling is not an option, I’ve had to get creative in seeking those inspiration points in different areas—whether it’s from magazines, Instagram pages, or checking out other artists to see what they’re doing during this time period.
Exploring my local area has been another point of inspiration for me, and I’ve really been taking the time to enjoy the treasures in my own neighborhood. When I was traveling 75 percent of the time, I lost out on all the beauty that’s happening around me.
WW: In such an unprecedented time, how are you hosting an avant-garde holiday soirée?
SB: I’m big on entertaining and love a festive theme for the holidays, so I’ll still be going all-out despite having a smaller guest list than usual. This year I’m going for a bold, maximalist look, with touches of surrealism, Art Deco, and Cubism-inspired elements. To me, there’s no such thing as overdoing the details.
I’ve chosen red and white lacquer striped placemats paired with black and white striped napkin rings for my dinner table, topped with a fun multi-colored pillar candle set to add to the bright look. One of my favorite pieces, though, is a beautiful Absinthe fountain to display the signature St-Germain cocktail my guests will be enjoying.
HC: I love adding subtle touches of holiday flair throughout my space every year, but this year, I’ve picked out different elements to take it to the next level and really make the experience fun and unique for the friends in my bubble. I’m always discovering a new perspective with my plants when it comes to presentation, and this season is all about the contrasts between the natural qualities of the greenery with the patterns and material of geometric Cubist-inspired pieces.
I’m also drawing inspiration from the Art Deco movement for one of my favorite holiday décor elements, the holiday wreath, which will sit above a bar cart. Made with a mix of preserved ferns, artificial eucalyptus leaf, dried dispacus thistle, and preserved ruscus leaf, it’s a far cry from pinecones and holly. If you tune in to Salon St-Germain, you can learn to make the wreath yourself!
ER: Having recently moved into my Brooklyn apartment, I took the time to invest in quality décor elements to match the elevated St-Germain cocktails I’ll be making, which really makes a difference. I’ve created a dedicated space for my cocktail making, complete with a sleek Salon table and an Art Deco-inspired cut glass beverage dispenser. I’ll be using it as a martini fountain when I host, but you can use it for any cocktail you desire. To me, it’s all about the little elements that come together to create that joyful ambiance.
WW: What's your favorite St-Germain cocktail?
SB: I love to have fun when it comes to my design work and mixing up a cocktail is no different. My favorite St-Germain cocktail has to be Smoke & Petals, created by Earlecia Richelle—a surreal mix of St-Germain elderflower liqueur, Lapsang-infused Santa Teresa 1796 rum, and a dash of orange blossom water. Topped with a cloud of pink cotton candy and served in a teacup, it’s the perfect drink for a whimsical nightcap moment.
HC: Currently, my favorite St-Germain cocktail is the St-Germain Spritz which I’ll be serving for the holidays. You can create a fun “dinner cocktail” moment with the drink like we did with Salon St-Germain.
ER: I have so many different favorite St-Germain cocktails, but if I had to pick one it’d be the St-Germain Spritz. Simple yet elevated with only three ingredients—St-Germain, sparkling win, and sparkling water. It’s a perfectly balanced cocktail that elevates your typical spritz into a great drink.
It’s also the perfect cocktail to pair with different kinds of foods and for different kinds of occasions. The flavor profiles are delicate and easy drinking so you can enjoy it with all types of food, whereas other cocktails you can’t have with everything.
WW: What at-home cocktails do you feel epitomize the holiday season? Give us your tips and tricks!
SB: For me, the perfect holiday cocktail is a martini or an old fashioned. You don’t have to stick to the classic recipe for either; I like to mix up variations of the two for an elevated experience. This year I’m going to be serving the Elderfashioned, which is a lower ABV take on the old fashioned with St-Germain, and the Deco Martini served in Art-Deco inspired glassware for the full effect.
HC: I think of the classics when it comes to the holidays—an old fashioned, Manhattan, or a martini. You really can’t go wrong with classic cocktails. I do think that glassware is important, too, as the holidays are a special time of year.Splurge for a crystal mixing glass and a nice set of martini glasses to up your hosting game.
ER: When I think about holiday entertaining, my mind goes to the martini. For this series, I created an elevated twist on the classic cocktail with the Deco Martini—a lower-ABV martini using a split of St-Germain elderflower liqueur, Bombay Sapphire gin, and sherry. There are a variety of different garnish options you can go with, but one of my all-time favorites is the oyster leaf.
Oyster leaves really taste like oysters and, to me, the perfect pairing is oysters and martinis. But if you want to take more of a traditional route, you can also go with a caperberry instead of an olive.
WW: What are you toasting to this holiday season?
SB: I’m actually really looking forward to the future and being able to spend more quality time with loved ones. Pre-COVID-19 and being in Manhattan, I was always in the rat race and immersed in the hustle and bustle of the city. I’m toasting to slowing down and putting more time into my personal life.
I find that when I invest time in my personal life, that I get it ten-fold back in my work life. When I spend time with those I love, it helps me get into a more peaceful place, which then allows the creativity to flow, helping my ideas to be fresh and unique.
HC: To health, new growth, and wild adventures.
ER: I’m toasting to making it through the year and finding moments to cherish with friends and family in a space that I love. This holiday season, it’s become more apparent just how important connection is, whether it be with people or your home. It’s all about finding new ways to be able to tap into the moments that give you joy throughout the year. I’m also toasting to a new year of new beginnings.