“There are a few parties which never leave your memory – and they always have a personal aspect to them; the expression of someone unabashedly sharing who they are with their guests,” says Hikari Yokoyama. The celebrated creative consultant, curator and philanthropist is famed for her mastery of the art of hosting, her London home a constant hub of revelry. “I’ve always loved hosting,” she tells us. “When I was six, I made little paper invitations with markers and invited all of the neighbourhood kids over for arts and crafts activities.”
One of her latest entertainment feats was a collaboration with new lifestyle brand Clos19, a pioneering shopping platform dedicated to luxury champagne, wine and spirits. To mark its launch, Yokoyama co-hosted a sumptuous dinner at her home in support of the South London Gallery and ReCreative, an arts education program for young people living in Peckham, taking inspiration from early 20th-century garden parties. London florist Fjura created stunning arrangements of lavender and white peonies; beautiful pale pink decorations covered the surfaces; British painter Ian Davenport made a gorgeous striped plate to give to ReCreative’s patrons to mark the occasion. Following the event, we spoke with the consultant to discover her guide to pulling off the perfect soirée – from who to invite and what to serve, to the ultimate soundtrack – presented here alongside an exclusive film detailing the event.
1. Invite friends, old and new
When it comes to choosing who to invite, Yokoyama suggests using your party as an excuse to catch up with old friends, while galvanising budding relationships. This adds an element of surprise for those in attendance. “I like parties where you never know who you’re going to meet,” she says. “So for me, the ideal guestlist is everyone you know and love, plus those you don’t know but think you might love.”
2. Attention to detail is everything
“A good party should make you feel transported to something outside of everyday life,” explains Yokoyama, “so the details are all important if you want to reinforce the temporary belief in an alternate reality.” But be careful not to be too pernickety, she warns: “Seek beauty but draw the line before it becomes fussy.” The consultant looks to celebrated hostesses of the past for inspiration, citing Lee Miller, Elsa Schiaparelli and Peggy Guggenheim among her favourites.
3. Prepare a killer playlist
Yokoyama believes that no party is complete without a well-curated playlist gently steering the mood – and it’s hard to disagree. She suggests Iko Iko by the Dixie Cups to warm people up; All Shook Up by Elvis Presley, to get the dancing started; Get Down by Nas to build momentum; This Must Be the Place by Talking Heads for a joyful, late-night sway; Hurt So Good by Susan Cadogan; Live Up by Rodney P; and Total Control by The Motels for a low-key wind-down.
4. Keep the menu simple, but tasty
“Make sure the food you cook is easy to eat, and account for all potential allergies by serving lots of different dishes so that there’s something for everyone,” Yokoyama suggests. “Remember to choose something that won’t cause bad breath and is properly filling. And of course ensure that it tastes delicious.”
5. The most delicious drinks should always come first
She also has some top tips for crafting the perfect drinks menu: “Serve the most artful or delectable drinks at the beginning of the night because no one will remember them later; have delicious wine for dinner; always keep spirits like vodka and tequila around with lots of soda and lime. And don’t forget something special for guests who don’t drink.”
6. Be attentive, but enjoy yourself
Once the merriment gets underway, the host’s most important task is to make sure their guests are having a good time, Yokoyama notes. And although it’s bound to feel a little daunting, it’s not rocket science. “Just make sure there’s enough food, drink and music to go around, then introduce people to each other and let them get on with it,” she says simply. “And have fun yourself! If you seem stressed, it will cultivate a tense atmosphere.”
7. Celebrate your successes with a quiet moment of reflection
Pulling off a successful soirée is an exhausting and exciting accomplishment, so allocate some time to unwind once the final stragglers have departed. “Have a hot bath,” recommends Yokoyama, “then into bed with an eye mask and earplugs to completely shut out the outside world.”
For more information, head to Clos19.