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After-Life of the Party

For the 10th anniversary celebration of a furniture manufacturer, Mary Tribble Creations brought both heaven and hell to North Carolina. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company turned a working warehouse into an otherworldly party site for client Mitchell Gold Co.

By holding the event during the busy buying season, the client hoped "to thank its customers and create an industry buzz," explains Mary Tribble, president. Because there was not enough time to remove the furniture from the warehouse showroom, the Tribble team decided to capitalize on it. Keying off a "heaven" theme, the team installed white slipcovers on every chair, couch and cushion to create a sleek, unifiedlook.

The invitations featured a cloud-covered couch floating in the sky. "We also die-cut couch-shaped name tags to add consistency to the theme," Tribble says.

JAZZING IT UP To greet guests arriving at the warehouse entrance, Mary Tribble Creations stationed two 30-foot inflatable Fly Guys from Los Angeles-based Air Dimensional Designs. "Our goal was to create excitement at the street level," says Tribble. The 300 guests entered a small room filled with hundreds of sunflowers. The event's freelance designers, Willie Little and Wayne Manness of Charlotte, completed the sunny look with clouds of white tricot hanging from the ceiling.

Guests moved from the entrance room up to the second floor, where the Tribble team, spearheaded by event manager Beth Ramsey, had transformed an empty storage area into a cozy venue for cocktails, a buffet dinner and entertainment. "We used a lot of objects that Mitchell [Gold] has in his storeroom-rustic window shutters, furniture and small props such as table lamps," Tribble notes. Little and Manness created vignettes of furniture throughout the brick-walled, open-beamed space. Mary Tribble Creations also draped food stations in the client's gold fabrics and added furniture and floral arrangements for decor. Guests enjoyed cocktails, hearty hors d'oeuvre and a buffet, all from Raleigh, N.C.-based Mitchell's Catering & Events. A jazz singer crooned sultry songs.

PARTY IN PARADISE After dinner, the door to the showroom was opened to reveal a white gobo reading "If Heaven Were Furnished, Mitchell Gold Would Do It" projected onto white fabric. Guests walked through a hallway filled with bright, white light and clouds of dry ice into what Tribble dubbed the "heaven room," where a live band greeted them with the sounds of What a Wonderful World. "It was really like 'walking into the light'-a very dramatic transition," Tribble notes.

The showroom had been open until 2 p.m. the day of the event. Apart from the lighting, which the Tribble team had put up a few days beforehand, all decor elements had to be arranged in a matter of five hours, "from putting slipcovers on every piece of furniture to setting up the stage and the sound system and bringing in tables," notes Tribble. "We had about 10 people doing the slipcovers and another 20 setting up everything else."

On the other side of the hallway, white lights projected on a mirror ball and intelligent lighting washed the white slipcovers in blue. Philadelphia-based Current Events provided all lighting.

The heaven room featured bars, dessert tables and dancing to a live band playing Motown and Top 40. Models in angel garb passed hors d'oeuvre and "sweet sushi"-confections shaped like sushi rolls with sauces for dipping. The company mascot-Gold's bulldog-paraded around in a halo and wings. A martini bar that had been carved entirely out of ice by Ice Sensations of Charlotte was a particular hit with the guests.

DRAG-SHOW INFERNO But before long, the celestial atmosphere changed. The lights turned from blue to red as guests descended from heaven to hell. "At around 10 p.m., Mitchell brought in a drag show," Tribble notes. "There were rumors all night that Cher, who is a customer of the company, might show up," she explains. It was true, after a fashion-the first drag act was a Cher impersonator lip-synching to If I Could Turn Back Time. The waiters traded their wings for red boxer shorts and devil horns. "No one was offended-Mitchell has a reputation for being off the wall," notes Tribble.

After the drag show, the band played on until past midnight. "Guests went back and forth between the two rooms all night," letting loose on the heaven-turned-hell dance floor and relaxing in the more laid-back buffet room, where the jazz singer continued performing.

As a parting gift, guests received a pair of "human slipcovers"-unisex black boxer shorts featuring the company logo, presented in a red, candy-filled box.

Mary Tribble Creations 324 N. College St., Suite 202, Charlotte, NC 28202 704/376-1943; e-mail: [email protected]

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