You Can Do This: Make a Party Centerpiece You Write On!

09/11/2013 at 04:00 PM ET

Novak Djokovic
Courtesy Ritz Carlton

At first we thought it was just a pretty floral display in the luxurious lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman resort.

Then we saw the chalk. Yup, pink, white, yellow and green scattered on top of a big blackboard with flowers—and we knew we had to recreate this look at home.

Why we love it: It’s a multitasker—besides being decorative, it’s also interactive and a conversation starter.

Huh? Look closer: A picture frame holds a card that says, “What’s your favorite summer memory?” Hotel guests couldn’t resist scribbling happy answers: “Ice cream,” “Sandcastles,” “The county fair.”

How to re-create this idea for your next party: You’ll need a large blackboard, colorful chalk, your fave flea-market vases in complementary colors, plenty of fresh flowers and a table to set everything on. And, of course, one great question, like “What’s your favorite karaoke song to perform?” or “If you could be an action hero, who would it be?”

Where to position: Look for a central, well-traveled spot in your room that guests will notice.

Heads up: Don’t crowd the blackboard with too many vases or there won’t be enough space for guests to write on! Also, keep the framed question general enough so most guests will be able to answer it.

The after-party: Even after the bash ends, you’ll have a personalized keepsake of the night—well, until your next party!

—Nancy Mattia


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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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