At Nairobi’s second Diner en Blanc, I spotted ruffles, long billowy coats, fascinators and statement jewelry. For the men I saw variations of the all white suit as well as a couple in cultural dress.
First, a little primer: Francois Pasquier hosted the first ever Diner en blanc in 1988. He had invited his friends to a picnic in his backyard, but they were too many to fit. So instead, they all agreed to meet at a park nearby. To recognize each other in the crowd, they would all wear white.
Almost 30 years later, the event has expanded to over 50 cities and a membership of 100,000. Still, it maintains that initial orientation towards celebrating friendship, fun, food and fashion.
The event venue is secret and guests do not find out until the actual dinner. All they do is show up a designated pickup site from which the organizing team transports them to the site in buses.
This year’s Nairobi venue was Garden City Estate. Between two rows of sleek houses, hosts set up white tents and tables for the 600 guests who had RSVPd . As the guests arrived, they brought their baskets of picnic food, either homemade or ordered from ArtCaffe. Moses the Drummer and DJ Protege played for most of dinner, only for Dela to take over later on in the evening.
Tables were splashed with an array of foods: from soups to salads to strawberries in chocolate to sparkling wine. They were also set with elaborate flower and candle arrangement. After dinner Dela took over the stage, and the crowd danced off all the good food, only pausing for a moment to carry out a delicious all white Mannequin Challenge.