Gems weren't the only things to shine at a 10th anniversary dinner hosted by Canturi jewels in Melbourne, writes Michael Harden - the menu and lavish venue shared centrestage.
"It was about showing our appreciation for the amazing support from our Melbourne clients. And what better way to say thanks than to invite them to dinner?"
Patricia Canturi, wife and business partner of jewellery designer Stefano Canturi, is talking about the dinner party she and her husband hosted in Melbourne recently to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their Sydney-based Canturi jewels setting up shop down south.
As would be expected from a designer whose most famous creation is the dazzling "Satine" neckpiece worn by Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, this was never going to be an ordinary affair.
There was the venue for starters. The Canturis' friends Deanne Bevan and Guy Russo offered their 1850s mansion, recently given a makeover by designer Iain Halliday. A mix of antique and modern, the house, described by Bevan as "glamorous chaos", is an unequivocal scene-setter.
Then there was the menu, served in the formal dining room to 36 guests, including Anthony Puharich (of Vic's Meat and Victor Churchill) and his wife Rebecca, developer Bruno Grollo and his wife Pierina, and Harper's Bazaar editor Kellie Hush. The guests were seated at black lace-topped tables sporting pink orchids and set with Noritake tableware.
The menu, designed by Shannon Bennett, was matched with Penfolds wines. The food was a blend of classics from Vue de Monde - smoked eel with white chocolate, truffle marshmallows, the theatrical liquid-nitrogen and cucumber sorbet dish that had guests crushing frozen flowers and petals in individual mortars. Dishes designed especially for the night included marron (flown in from Western Australia that day) simply steamed and teamed with a superb brown-butter emulsion and brilliant wagyu beef clustered sculpturally with a variety of onions, an onion jus and mustard greens.
And, of course, there was the jewellery. After dinner, a parade of models dressed in Alex Perry gowns drifted past tables, adorned with pieces that highlighted Canturi's intricate, playful, colourful style.
The party then moved to the living area where Bennett had arranged a Willy Wonka-esque dessert table, piled high with pistachio lollipops, macarons and a brightly coloured, multi-tiered cake. In a heartfelt speech to his guests, Stefano commented that the "love in the air is what motivates me to make beauty".
Not only do these words apply to his jewels but also to his ability to throw a great party.