The Inner Circle Experience Paris was everything we imagined, planned and determined it would be. Our first European edition of ICE was as magical as a luxury event held in the most romantic city on earth should be - from not one, but several, dazzling venues to a glimmering ensemble of creative entrepreneurs from the world over, the Inner Circle emerged in full force to dazzle the iconic City of Lights.
Our boutique home-away-from-home, the enticing Hôtel Plaza Athénée, was perfectly situated along the Avenue Montaigne, a coveted haunt of the upper echelon of Parisian society. Attention to every luxurious amenity and the inclusion of original art works blended to ensure each accommodation was dazzling and unique - a perfect picture of the multi-faceted city waiting just on the other side of the Plaza Athénée’s palatial walls. It was absolutely vital to the ambiance of the Inner Circle Experience event that our home-base be as enchanting as the ICE program itself, and the knowledgable and attentive Plaza Athénée staff did not disappoint, nor did the opulent surround.
Besides the stunning Hôtel Plaza Athénée, ICE had the honor of visiting other stellar Parisian venues, including the Hôtel de Crillon and the Le Bristol Hotel. Both elegant venues offered discerning dining and plenty of scope for the imagination, as ICE guests perused both locations, taking in the charm and sophistication offered by each. Hôtel de Crillon put on a morning of ICE sessions in one of their stunningly appointed Salons, followed by an exquisite luncheon in the French manner. Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris and the Shangri-La Hôtel Paris both opened their doors wide for guests of the Inner Circle as well, each contributing to the scintillating ICE 17 program in their own unique way.
A bespoke lineup of luxury industry gurus curated and presented by ICE founder Sade Awe tackled tough topics confronting industry leaders worldwide. Notable for their various contributions to the global luxury market, experts included Jo Malone London’s own fragrance ambassador, Chris Wyatt; Christine Hassler, Millennial Expert and Credentialed Life/Business Coach; Kelly Riggs, Wealth Management Specialist and Frédérique Dedet, Editor in Chief at Paris’ Les Echos Série Limitée. Illustrious president of Estée Lauder Companies France, Jean Christophe Jourde, regaled the group with his charm but also entranced us with the wisdom of his experience. An especial thanks is due to the incredible Amilya Antonetti, digital strategist and business expert, who also acted as our daily moderator. Amilya poured her heart into the Experience, and spoke into all of us in an unprecedented manner, leaving us inspired and rejuvenated.
Bespoke encounters included a behind-the-scenes excursion to the famed flagship Hermès shopfront under the expert guidance of Michael Coste. Michael was charismatic, gracious and inspired, leaving us with the most knowledgable insights into the St. Honoré flagship location. Guests also enthused over an especial afternoon tea at the Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris; as well as a hands-on cooking experience à la française at the famed L’Ecole de Cuisine d’Alain Ducasse. Our Parisian rendezvous would only have been complete with tea at the unequivocal Ladurée Paris Champs Elysées, so of course, arrangements were made. A cruise down the River Seine, designed and produced by the Potel et Chabot, was the perfect Parisian experience, against the beautifully lit backdrop of the White Lady herself. Potel et Chabot provided gustatory delights as well as entertainment during the cruise. The Inner Circle Experience guests were also whisked away on a whirlwind tour of the City of Lights, gracing such landmarks as the Tour Eiffel, the lavish Opéra Garnier and the grand Musée du Louvre.
ICE always culminates in Gala Night - a symphony of taste, sight, sound and aromatic delights- and ICE 2017 was no different. Held at the posh Shangri-La Hôtel Paris, Gala Night wove together an unforgettably palatial ambience beset with cascading bundles of white hydrangea and orchids dripping from tall, elegant stands hovering above a couture mirrored-table design. The French-cultivated cuisine was delectably inspired and prepared by the flawless duo, Stephen and Stephen. Adding to the romance and magnificence of the evening, strains of a harpist’s song drifted in the floral-scented air. Another magical touch proved to be the incredibly artful menus and design details implemented by Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York and her trend-setting design team.
Le Bristol Hotel created the most heart-warming Farewell Dinner for ICE 2017, replete with a private wood-paneled dining room, tastefully bedecked with fresh florals and the romance of candlelight. A dainty French-inspired wedding-tableau was even erected, and our dear Inner Circle member, Diann Valentine, and her dashing husband renewed their wedding vows amidst the well wishes of the guests.
With the allure and enchantment of Paris lingering in our memories, it is with great joy that we look back on our Parisian adventures, remembering couture encounters, reveling in laughter shared with friends and pondering the wisdom of other global thought leaders. The Experience was all the more marvelous for the insights and involvement of my dear friend, Alejandra Poupel, whom I cannot thank enough. Philip White captured the essence of ICE like never before with his moving film rendition, and Fred Mariguex was able to preserve our Parisian memories through the excellence of his photographic imagery. ICE has left us again somehow changed, but also somehow more connected in a world that can feel so disjointed. Not only do the memories last a lifetime - but the networks and friendships forged amidst the brilliant lights and fanfare of the City of Lights will not soon fade.