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The Great Gathering
Kate Abney | Photo: Jamie Hopper | November 16, 2012
A garden party in Buckhead pays tribute to The Great Gatsby—both the classic novel and the highly anticipated landmark film.
“Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course you can!” states the invite illuminating my smartphone as we pull up to the stunning Buckhead residence of Heather and Read Roberts, a stone’s throw from the hallowed Hal’s on Old Ivy.
The quotation is plucked from the pages of The Great Gatsby, but the delivery is a far cry from the notations of the Prohibition era from where it’s derived. Our host, Heather— having just launched her vintage home accessories brand, Ivy and Vine—has the wherewithal to plan such a luxurious fete. But much credit must also be given to her creative cohort, Katie Hobbs—former director of fashion advertising sales at ELLE. Nowadays, Katie lives in town with her charming husband, Bill, and is in the process of revamping her Atlanta-based fashion site, Les Nouvelles, so her time is in just as short supply.
This marvelous party concept, which marinated for years and germinated at a wine-fueled dinner between Heather and Katie at The Optimist, soon became a fully hatched plan. A little more than a month and a half later, the evening is finally upon us.
Rounding the corner, I navigate the boundaries of the plush slice of yard, which rolls out like a mossy carpet in front of Roberts’ 1941 Frazier & Bodin-designed colonial revival home. A crescent moon hangs in the air. Katie, ever the style arbiter, touts that The Great Gatsby has never been more au courant. Flapper fashions stormed the runways for spring, and an evocative Baz Luhrmann epic is close on the horizon.
Tonight, under the twinkle of globe lights and Japanese lanterns, I believe these two couples have truly captured that spirit. Round tables are surrounded by white Thonet chairs, and a fire pit roars from a bowl on the property’s edge. Adirondacks are flanked by elephant garden seats, and harlequin-etched hurricanes mingle with spit-and-polish heirloom silver, staggered milk-glass compotes and a silver challenge trophy Heather won for horseback riding in 1988. These elements are softened by succulents and green gerbera daisies set upon antique Irish lace. Vases have been filled with white roses and magnolia leaves. Cocktail tables are scattered with pearls, antique cigarette holders and objects culled from both hosts’ homes.
It’s altogether an exquisite affair: ’20s jazz sounds—handpicked by Katie—waft through the towering trees, while guests tap vintage croquet balls through wickets on the lawn. Period ensembles range from suspenders and family pocket watches to feather boas and cocktail rings. Heather and Katie have accented both their headpieces with authentic plumes and vintage brooches, while the latter has brought to life a mint-condition flapper frock. Peter Lloyd, a stylist at Dresden Hair Studio, has dusted off vintage Dior and donned a plaid driver’s cap, and Read looks dapper in a straw skimmer hat and a cream-colored three-piece suit. Katie’s equally debonair husband has opted for slick Gatsby hair and black-tie.
Tonight’s guests are an emerging who’s who of the real estate, finance and fashion worlds: jewelry designer Laurel Wells, SCAD fashion professor Jason Bunin, Coca-Cola brand manager Andrew Rodbell, music mogul Zachary Wallace, and interior designers Lauren Dott and Brooke Merrill. The artisans behind the Paper-Cut-Project, Amy Flurry and Nikki Salk, have also appeared, and ADAC’s new special projects maven, Amy Musarra, is chatting merrily with Ally May by the fire pit. May is an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty and the one who helped the Robertses settle on this spectacular home when they moved here from Manhattan.
Bless the 21st Amendment, because these fine folks are filling goblets upon silver goblets at the Champagne fountain. I tip the apothecary jar full of homemade cucumber-infused vodka into my cup, and, perusing the provisions, I discover figs wrapped in prosciutto, rice-and-cheese balls and delicate finger sandwiches. While guests nibble, everyone is practically effervescent.
“Katie and I had such a great time planning this,” Heather enthuses. The results speak for themselves. While the evening starts to simmer, the scene is cemented in my mind like a snapshot of decades past, the whole evening like a page from a book—brought to beautiful life.