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THE ULTIMATE TASTE MAKER: CAROLYN ROEHM

January 5, 2024 / Lifestyle

The tradition of creating a memorable experience through gatherings such as elaborate dinners, cocktail parties, or candlelit dinners are perhaps some of our most beloved holiday rituals. There is so much anticipation, energy, and elation that it’s inevitable to want to share the joy with friends and family.

While this past year has taught us that even traditions need fluidity, collectively we seem to desire the opportunity to create a memorable soiree. The model holiday party may look seamless from the outside, but that seamless mess is only achieved from careful—and thoughtful—execution. Meet the “ultimate taste maker” according to Bill Blass – Carolyn Roehm. She’s been part of American design culture for over four decades now with a career spanning the fashion, gardening, entertaining, publishing and decorative arts worlds.

THE MAGNETISM FOR THE HOLIDAYS

For Carolyn Roehm, a zealous love for the holidays began as child and was inherited from her mother, and grandmother. Carolyn recalls, “I was the type of child who started to celebrate Christmas the day after Halloween. My mother and father had to hold me back from decorating the entire house prior to Thanksgiving.”

The magnetism for the holidays has remained with Carolyn throughout many yuletide celebrations. From luxurious events complete with a choir, to (most recently) a more subdued Christmas—Carolyn is an expert in blending fluidity with execution.

“That feverish love of Christmas remains for me. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to pare down a bit because my enthusiasm for the grand production has diminished a bit. I still adore the holiday itself but I’m trying to find more meaningful and subtler ways to celebrate, especially during COVID.”, says Carolyn.

It turns out there are tried-and-true techniques for any size soiree. For example, implementing a theme can take an experience from ordinary to creative and is a good starting point. A memorable display is one of the first things guest will notice upon arriving. Carolyn adds, “I find that having a theme keeps everything on track and let’s your guests know that this event was well-considered. Inspiration can come from anywhere—art, books, design photos, nature—it can be as simple as something I saw on my morning walk that caught my eye. You must be open to seeing beauty in the little things, because with that comes endless inspiration.”

Along with an overall theme, the tablescape is an element of holiday parties that can make a statement. Afterall, meals are served around them and a beautiful tablescape can be just as crucial as the food. A cohesive tablescape requires thought as it encompasses not only table decorations, but details all the way down to centerpieces, tables and glasses. Roehm, on a constant quest for inspiration, has found tablescape ideas through walks, nature, books and curiosity through her daily life.

CREATING AMBIENCE

Carolyn’s creativity goes beyond the physical things seen at her events. Creating ambience isn’t just about the beauty of the space, but also the feeling you have while being immersed in an experience. Music can make us astonishingly nostalgic and gives life to the party. Caroyln remarks, “I love throwing a caroling party. It takes a bit of coaxing—not everyone has a performer in them—but once we get going everyone wants to join in on the fun! I have song books made so everyone knows the words and we start with the light, upbeat carols, like Jingle Bells or Silver Bells and then we graduate to the more moving songs. I’ve even hired accompaniment, like a pianist, a string quartet and even a gospel choir one year.”

Along with music, a well thought out theme and a beautiful tablespace is true hospitality: the ability to ensure your guests are enjoying themselves. The host sets the tone for the party, and if the hostess is making pleasure a priority, the rest will follow. Carolyn advises, “Be kind to yourself, accept help, don’t sweat the small stuff, and be well-rested and joyful for your own events. An enthusiastic host is a gracious and memorable one.”

Hospitality doesn’t have to end with the host: a gift is a lovely way to show appreciation and to say thank you for the invitation. Carolyn has recently finished a small volume of books on three subjects she is passionate about—flowers and gardening, dogs, and the feminine touch. “I think they will make the perfect gift for anyone you love,” she remarks.

With a love for impeccable presentation, Roehm has developed a line of gift paper, lily-of-the- valley through her collaboration with The Enchanted Home. “Gift wrapping is a version of a first impression,” says Carolyn. Lily-of-the-valley products are inspired by a painting Carolyn completed. “It’s my birth month flower and has been a long standing favorite flower of mine.”

As a next step for her growing company, Kovacevich will remain committed to vegan fashion and hopes to introduce accessories and shoes. “There aren’t many non-leather products in high end fashion. I’m going to fill that hole in the market,” she states.

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