The fashion empress invited Simply You over for a divine dinner to share the story of her three antique-filled homes and glimpse a life lived in colour.
“I like to honour my guests with a little bit of theatre and a little bit of sumptuous glamour if it’s a full-on dinner party,” says Dame Trelise Cooper. “Whenever I set a table, it’s always thought out, but that’s the pleasure of it for me.”
When the fashion designer invited us over for dinner at her Auckland home, ultraviolet anemones, ruby red anthuriums and winter white orchids spilt down a hanging candelabra and out of the gold vases below. Beside them were stacks of pink Versace plates, ornate glass bowls full of dragon fruit and an eclectic mix of candlesticks.
“There’s no better way to come together than around a table,” she says. “It’s a coming together of friendship and love, and I like to celebrate that.”
Flowers and ambient lighting are always on the table, a Spotify playlist in her guests’ favourite genre playing in the background.
Trelise’s cooking style is, like her clothing designs, layered with plenty of flavour. From her favoured French-style duck confit with cherry jam to an Ottolenghi-inspired chicken with Middle Eastern spices, which she recently cooked impromptu for a friend’s birthday, ask the creative about any dish and she’ll be able to give you an enthusiastic recipe, punctuated with affirmations of “delicious”, “ fuss-free” and “wow-factor”.
While she’s the epitome of glamour, both in front of the camera and in daily life, Trelise isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves. “I do find I always have my hands in the sink,” she admits. “I feel good in the kitchen. It’s my hangout place, more than anywhere.”
At the end of Simply You’s shoot, she was toasting to our success with Beau Joie Brut Champagne, while still cleaning up from the full day’s shoot.
She’s the hostess with the mostest, but Trelise can be easily distracted when the conversation, and the Champagne or chardonnay, flows. “We could have a flambé dessert without meaning to quite often because I would have put it in the oven and forgotten it,” she laughs. It’s this relaxed, carefree entertaining style that has led to many evening drinks rolling into high-spirited dinner parties.
Of course, the location plays a big role in the entertainer’s theme, whether this be her charming Orakei bolthole, historic beach cottage in Leigh or picturesque French home, located in a small medieval village near Toulouse.