Inside the Spectacular Fall Art and Antiques Show Gala

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The show's director Ariane Trimuschat and chair Suzanne Tucker
The show’s director Ariane Trimuschat and chair Suzanne Tucker

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

“That was a really wonderful event. Everything about it was just great. The food, the drinks, the atmosphere. I think it’s the best event of the year—better than the symphony, the opera, all those things,” a dapper gentleman of a certain age was overheard in conversation at the Balboa Cafe on Wednesday night. He was referring to the San Francisco Fall Art and Antiques Show Preview Gala, which had just ended at Fort Mason. The Balboa Cafe was packed with people who had attended the event and everyone had a certain celebratory glow. It was a truly sensational event.

Aerin Lauder
Aerin Lauder

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Hosted by Suzanne Tucker with honorary chair Aerin Lauder, the 35th annual show was a feast for the senses. When guests walked into the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason, they were greeted by four breathing-taking vignettes. A pair of oversized gold great dane statues elegantly announced the show’s theme, Animalia, while silently watching guard over the entrance. Four local designers partnered with principal sponsor de Gournay to create distinct vignettes with luxe details and beautiful hand-painted wall paper. Ann Getty and Associates created a simple, yet wildly chic room with gilt wood stools from the English country house, Castle Hill, and an elegant poured-glass console from John Lewis. Jonathan Rachman Design took inspiration from a traditional Indonesia sculpture to create his vignette, a sitting room with plush textiles, Balinese umbrella, and vintage photography from Peter Fetterman Gallery. Catherine Kwong Design created a sophisticated tea room with hand-painted bird-print silk panels inspired by Alberta Ferretti’s latest collection. Antonio Martins Interior Design’s vignette had a bold wallpaper with green foliage, bright flowers, and exotic animals such as pink tropical birds and adorable armadillos. Although guests were not supposed to walk inside the vignettes, at the end of the evening, many were seen breaking the rules inside Martins’s lovely room with the fantastical wallpaper. It proved to be the evening’s ultimate photo op.

Catherine Kwong's vignette
Catherine Kwong’s vignette

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Speaking of photo opportunities, a fun photo booth was set up just past the vignettes and guests had the chance to snap a picture in front of the black-and-white de Gournay backdrop. The champagne and vodka flowed freely and the food, created by McCall’s catering, was delicious. Gentlemen serving tiny pieces of toast dipped in creme fraiche and piled high with caviar were everywhere. Rack of lamb and roast beef carving stations were manned by charming high school students, members of the Enterprise for High School Students program, which the show funds. Buttery whipped mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables were plated alongside the meats. Prosciutto, cheese, salumi, smoked salmon crostini, sushi, and dim sum were elegantly stacked on platters at stations throughout the main dining area at the center of the pavilion. When it comes to the food at events, San Francisco often tries to cater to a thousand special dietary needs, so it was a refreshing change to see a disregard for vegans, vegetarians, lactose intolerant, et. al. A lavish spread of desserts, including mini ice cream sandwiches and glazed doughnuts, was irresistible. It was old-fashioned over-the-top extravagance in the best kind of way. Notable attendees who enjoyed the ornate evening included Dede Wilsey and her son Trevor Traina and his wife Alexis, Allison Speer, Yurie Pascarella, Jennifer Biederbeck, and Barbara Brown—plus all of the city’s top interior designers.   

Jonathan Rachman and Claud Gurney
Jonathan Rachman and Claud Gurney

The show is currently open to the public and runs from now until Sunday, October 30. The show’s director Ariane Trimuschat says that the biggest trend to come out of the event is to combine old and new. “Incorporating and mixing together contemporary and antique, because you never want to have all of one thing in your home,” she told Haute Living. “It’s really about the mix. It’s about incorporating a beautiful Louis XV chair and having a contemporary 21st century work of art hanging on the wall above it. Mixing eras. Mixing different genres together. Getting away from having everything be from the same time period, or from the same era. Really mixing different time periods. It really makes a room so much more interesting.” If you do walk the event, here are some of the things you will come across: a collection of vintage American flags, first edition maps, estate jewels, oversized rugs, Fornasetti plates, and antique canes with intricate handles. Don’t miss the selection of fowl portraits by photographer Paul Lange and the exquisite French straw marquetry table from the 1760s.

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