By Samantha Critchell, AP
NEW YORK (AP) - Fashion designers know how to party. But while some count on the trendiest new nightspot to deliver a good time, others take a hands-on approach.
With the holidays around the corner, the Associated Press asked Nicole Miller, Peter Som, Cynthia Rowley and Devi Kroell to plan seasonal soirees. They're among the scores of designers who contributed recipes to the new "American Fashion Cookbook," published by Assouline.
"Designers, by definition, are among the most creative people on earth," master hostess Martha Stewart writes in the book's foreword. "So it comes as no surprise that fashion people are also keenly interested in food, in its preparation, in its presentation, and in all kinds of recipes. I have eaten at several well-known designers' homes and I have always been greatly impressed with the kinds of foods they served."
Here are four fashionable parties:
NICOLE MILLER'S SIT-DOWN DINNER
-Signature drink: Eggnog and martinis with candy canes.
-Favorite foods: Rack of lamb with rosemary cooked on top of a cassoulet made with sliced potato, white beans and onions.
Miller, who has been known to throw a sit-down meal for up to 36 people, also likes to cook up a theme - fondue, or Mexican or Turkish food, perhaps. She's working on a menu for a white truffle dinner.
For dessert, she'd serve a combination of panna cotta, chocolate mousse, figs cooked in Madeira wine and candied chestnuts with whipped cream.
"I'm always cooking, lots of times I spend the whole weekend cooking," she says.
-Dress code: She'll make herself an outfit to fit her motif but she usually won't tell anyone else so they don't feel burdened to do the same.
-Special touch: A little party favor. For a Southwest-themed party, guests took home mini cactus trees and at a Turkish party, there were evil-eye napkin rings. The decor tends to be simple and sophisticated, Miller says, and if there's a crafty element - a centerpiece of pine cones and greens for the holidays, for example - she'll try it DIY.
DEVI KROELL'S COCKTAIL PARTY
-Signature drink: Champagne cocktails, such as a Kir Royale with creme de cassis, or plain Champagne - not a rose version.
-Favorite foods: Passed trays of small canapes, including fois gras on top of raisin brioche, mini sushi rolls served on a small spoon, proscuitto or fresh mozzarella skewered on a toothpick with a cherry tomato.
Later on, she'll serve petit fours. "I love little strawberry shortcakes and of course you need something chocolatey. Little mini molten cakes are very popular at my party!"
-Dress code: Party dress. "I like to make it an occasion," she says.
However, Kroell says she's also keenly aware of the tough economics out there so she'd choose a little black dress this year instead of something more flamboyant. Maybe as it gets closer to Christmas and New Year's she'd add a touch of sparkle.
-Special touch: Fresh flowers. She'd use small vases for peonies, in any color but white. She'd display a traditional advent wreath with pine-tree branches shaped into a circle with four candles on top. One candle is lit each Sunday over the four weeks preceding Christmas.
PETER SOM'S BRUNCH
-Signature drink: Bloody Mary with fresh horseradish, if available.
-Favorite foods: Croissant French toast, using day-old croissants or, even better, the ones that are prepackaged by the dozen. "You get a good crunch because of all the butter in there," he says. Nutmeg and vanilla would be added to the egg dip.
The alternate meal would be a big plate of scrambled eggs flavored with goat cheese and chives.
"I love brunch. It's the easiest meal because you don't have all day to plan and work on it, so you have to keep it easy and that's the best way to entertain," he says.
-Dress code: None - it's come as you are.
-Special touch: Votive candles. "It's all about good lighting," Som says.
CYNTHIA ROWLEY'S DROP-IN OPEN HOUSE:
-Signature drink: Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) and sparkling water.
-Favorite foods: Desserts, including grown-up sweets - Rowley's top picks are whiskey cookies and rum balls. "Remember when you were a kid and weren't allowed to touch the rum balls?" she says. "Now you are."
-Dress code: a long green kimono and a fringed leather skirt.
-Special touch: Karen O's soundtrack for "Where the Wild Things Are" playing in the background.
"I feel like holiday entertaining has gotten a little more relaxed. You don't have to bring in a decorator and a caterer and tent your backyard. It's not important to have the perfect canape or stress about the garland or the garnishes," Rowley says. It's a time for people to get together ... and people in the fashion world always like an excuse to dress up."