There are parties and then there are DRIEHAUS parties of which there is a world of difference. As a matter of fact, Richard Driehaus just may well be the Hugh Hefner of our age sans Bunnies!
One of the most coveted invitations around is to Richard's Summer Party in Lake Geneva which, this year, was a nod to both James Bond and Richard's 77th birthday. It was the largest in the event's long history with over 1,100 of his closest friends in attendance.
The "mother" of all parties began with a unique invitation that included details printed on silvered metal with an image of Richard posing as James Bond between Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and others, enclosed with a black leather kit (marked "Top Secret-For Your Eyes Only") which contained a complete portable martini set for two! The invitation box also included a very real-looking passport with Richard's photo and info as a "Special Agent." This sort of attention to detail is a hallmark of every Driehaus party and it's a thrill to behold.
We drove up to the "estate on the lake" where courteous valet parkers took guests' cars before boarding trolleys and buses to the party site. Among the many lakes and ponds dotting the property, the one bordering the cocktail and dining areas were filled with ginormous "casino chips" floating lazily atop the water.
Aerialists and models dressed as "golden girls" greeted guests as they meandered through the orchard and "Children's Village" (where Richard had constructed mini-playhouses for his kids when they were younger).
The invite requested men wear white dinner jackets and almost everyone complied making the scene look uber-elegant. Food stations were scattered throughout the space and featured "Skyfall" (Mediterranean fare), "License to Kill" (carving station with baby lamb chops, salmon, pasta), "The Spy Who Loved Me" (veggies), "Casino Royale" (paella and salads), "Goldfinger" (desserts including caramelized bananas and mini apple pie skillets) and a "Pretty Cool" ice cream bar.
Every year, Richard thrills guests with his entertainment choices and, this year, it was Miss Diana Ross! (This might account for the record attendance!) White chairs with mini cocktail side-tables covered the lawn in front of the Pavilion stage where "077" was lit up across the top. Richard made his entrance in his usual dramatic fashion via a video that showed clips from past James Bond films with his image superimposed in several key scenes (see video here).
During his opening remarks, he sat in an oversized red leather chair and began in story-telling fashion talking about how his father influenced his life.
"One of the greatest gifts of time and aging is the perspective it gives on life. Danish philosopher Kierkegaard said this, 'Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards.' With that in mind, tonight I want to acknowledge my father Herman and his influence on my life...Dad wanted the best for us and he gave me a priceless gift, the power of aspiration, " he said.
Richard's father was a successful mechanical engineer with 24 patents but he only received $1 per patent and wasn't able to afford a house that he desired. This inspired Richard to make sure he was in a better position to provide for his own family when the time came. With his voice breaking, he concluded, "I thank you dad, you inspired me with your aspiration. It was a life-changing gift. Thank you dad for what you did."
Diana Ross entered in grand fashion too (see video here) and opened her hour long set with "My World is Empty Without You Babe" and sang many of her hits including "Stop! In the Name of Love", "Baby Love", "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" and many more. During "Reach Out and Touch", she asked the crowd to hold up their cell phones in flashlight mode.
She made three gorgeous costume changes, one more exquisite than the next, wished Richard a happy birthday and then, poof, she was gone leaving everyone in a dreamlike state. Afterwards, Richard's family presented him with a huge birthday cake and then it was time for fireworks! On the lawn, more cocktails and desserts were served.....It was a party for the record books, as they all are.
I'm sure Hefner was watching with envy.
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