- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2005

Guests couldn’t wait to discover the playful floral fantasyland created by Dutch event designer Rene Hofstede and his team of eight at the handsome Kalorama residence of Netherlands Ambassador Boudewijn van Eenennaam. “We’re all about cultural shock and awe,” the cheerful host told his guests, who included fellow envoys from Morocco, Bolivia, Jordan, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Bulgaria, Lebanon and Egypt.

The weeklong display of 30,000 freshly cut Dutch blossoms (with lots and lots of tulips) showcases Meet the Dutch, a series of events honoring Queen Beatrix’s Silver Jubilee and demonstrating Dutch contributions in politics, business and culture. (The latter includes the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Dutch Royal Silver Exhibit continuing through July 4.)

Bright colors were everywhere, especially orange, of course, to celebrate the Royal House of Orange. Stunning Jellie van Eenennaam looked especially striking in a theatrical Madeleine Pauw design of orange and black.

“Oh, I’m wild about this,” exclaimed the Portuguese ambassador’s wife, Cheryl Catarino, standing amid the shocking pink and orange organza draping the living room chandeliers and reaching down to sparkling pools of magenta orchids. Taylor Ensenat, wife of Chief of Protocol Donald Ensenat (who was dressed appropriately in electric lime green) called it just too, too “daring and divine.”

The tall and charming Mr. Hofstede missed the receiving line to continue working in the residence’s garage-turned-floral-workshop but soon turned up. “I always start with flowers in abundance,” said the “out-of-the-box” designer, who is doing H.G. Well’s “War of the Worlds” movie premiere with Tom Cruise at New York’s Hayden Planetarium and whose media and fashion clients include Oprah Winfrey, Donatella Versace, HBO, ABC and Time magazine.

Rakela Ruperez, wife of former Spanish Ambassador Javier Ruperez (who is now serving at the United Nations), showed off her new business cards (“institutional relations” for a Spanish law firm with offices in Madrid, Marbella and London). “She’s our inspiration,” said Rim Abboud, wife of Lebanese Ambassador Farid Abboud, “There’s life after Washington.”

Other guests — who all took home traditional bouquets of orange tulips — included Aniko Gaal Schott, Esther Coopersmith, Isabel and Ricardo Ernst, Ina Ginsburg, Wyatt and Tandy Dickerson, Lolo Sarnoff, Ruth “Baba” Groom and Anna Maria and Giorgio Via.

Gail Scott

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