Design & Décor, Entertaining, Personal Style

“Iris in Wonderland” Newport Picnic

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In an earlier journal post, I presented the irrepressible fashion maven Iris Apfel,  who is the subject of a well deserved documentary.  But the night of her exclusive Newport showing also included  an “Iris in Wonderland” picnic contest on the back lawn of Marble House, capping off a truly red letter evening of summer, 2015! Here, Sarah Vickers, Erin Ribeiro and I are set to judge the picnic  offerings.

Kiel James Patrick, via Town & Country

With a nod to Iris, I wore a silk and passementerie-embroidered salwar kameez I purchased in Delhi 20 years ago (less the gobs of beads and bracelets.) Fortuny pillows, Chinese boxes, Japanese tea table and bone-handled flatwork helped set the scene which honored newportFILM’s directive to “think fashion and fairytale, extraordinary and quirky, costume and couture.”

Inspired by Iris’s attire (above,) my picnic vignette included cotton napkins and tablecloths that played up the colors of exotic spices ( mace, nutmeg, curry, paprika, cumin and cardamom) as did the menu.


Fried chicken
Curried deviled eggs with pecans
Tri-color salad (cucumbers, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, leeks and mint in a ginger vinaigrette)
Watermelon and feta cheese cubes
Spicy gazpacho
Grapes, walnuts and apricots

Practical tin plates (copies of Commemorative Plates from the Royal Collection purchased in London in May) also carried out the cumin and curry color scheme.

Comfortable beach chairs were a priority for watching the hour+long movie, but their nautical tone was disguised by large Indian shawls.


While you may not totally embrace Iris Apfel’s dictum that “more is more and less is a bore,” just playing in her orbit for awhile has convinced me…I’m taking a page from her book!!

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

2 thoughts on ““Iris in Wonderland” Newport Picnic

  1. Bettie
    You look simply exquisite in your charming Indian attire. I am enjoying Miss Iris’s notion that ” More is More and less is Bore”

    Thank you for sharing

    Your summer Newport blog is charming. Mary

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