For Bevy Smith, putting on spectacular events is more than a job, it's a lifestyle.
Bevy Smith, well known for hosting her star spangled Dinner with Bevy parties and more recently her Dining with Bevy: Life with a Vision series, partnered with Harlem's Fashion Row last Tuesday to host a pre-fashion week dinner at the Marriott Renaissance New York Hotel's beautiful Opia Restaurant. I had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes look at this social connoisseur's event empire, and from television, radio, blogs and events, Bevy Smith does it all. In fact, I would call her a modern renaissance woman. "I do whatever strikes my fancy," Smith stated.
The evening was a perfect way to jumpstart Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, with a very fashionable set of tastemakers congregating over fine wine, a cocktail hour and a seated dinner. Conversation flourished and ultimately focused on the role of persons of color in the fashion industry. Brandice Henderson, CEO and Founder of Harlem's Fashion Row which seeks to generate a more diverse presence in fashion and design mentioned how "surreal" it was to be working with Bevy Smith during her opening remarks. "The movement has taken on a life of its own," Henderson stated. The guest list included the likes of Michaela Angela Davis, former editor of Vibe and Honey magazines, Flo Anthony, the first African American woman to write for entertainment and Page Six of the New York Post, Vashtie Kola, artist, director and designer, and Misty Copeland, one of the first African American female soloists of the American Ballet Theater, to name a few.
Smith goes above and beyond the typical role of a hostess. She is not an event planner, an important distinction to be made and one that becomes blatantly obvious when watching her navigate the social sphere. She is in her element. Her evening starts traditionally with a Belvedere vodka gimlet, sweetened with agave. Her vision for each event requires equal parts strategy and charm, from table layouts conducive to conversation and dialogue, to meeting each member of the hotel staff personally. Throughout the evening, her top priority is to ensure that everyone enjoys the festivities.
The evening was a true testament to the art of conversation. Smith has a talent for making all of her event attendees feel special and welcomed. "They are all fabulous and they are all VIP to me," Smith stated. Event attendees are not just guests; they become friends for which she knows small, but important details about, and for which she is able to meticulously determine seating arrangements amongst varying personalities. Likewise, she has a genuine interest in each and every person she invites, and takes the opportunity to greet each individual personally.
"I like to have dinner parties at organically, innately nice locations with great ambience," Smith stated. "What matters most is great people in the room...when they come to my parties, they know it is going to be a good time"
Well connected is definitely an understatement. Her events are a mix of notables from diverse genres, and guests are often delighted to attend because they know they will have a grand time, and a valuable experience. It is remarkable to see how people gravitate toward her. Where other events focus on building networks, Smith believes in generating long lasting relationships between people. "I like to bring smart, fabulous, amazing people together and watch sparks fly," Smith stated. "And hopefully they will generate collaborations for the future. It is not about networking, it is about connecting."
Smith is always on the go, having flown in from a wedding in Los Angeles last week to be in the city for fashion week. She enjoyed a New York City staycation last week, courtesy of Marriott International. Although a jetsetter, she is also a big advocate of the staycation, calling it "a wonderful way to clear your head and a great way to see the city" The sponsorship from Marriott International is part of their new multicultural marketing initiative, where they will be generating more experiential partnerships with diverse organizations. Apoorva Gandhi, the Vice President of Marriott International's Multicultural Markets and Alliances stated, "It means a lot to us provide future generations with opportunities to do what they do best and be recognized for it."
Host Bevy Smith with ABF soloist Misty Copeland
Bevy Smith captivating the room with a few opening remarks
Bevy Smith looks on as guests enjoy themselves
Bevy Smith with Kristine Friend, Senior Director of Marketing Activation at Marriott International
Apoorva Gandhi, the Vice President of Marriott International’s Multicultural Markets and Alliances
Vashtie Kola and Apoorva Gandhi
Misty Copeland, Julee Wilson, Brandice Henderson, and Rich Daniel share a laugh after dinner
Follow Brandice N. Daniel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hfrmovement