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Elle Decor editor Margaret Russell,
DIFFA executive director
David Sheppard and
Victoire Taittinger

Champagne Taittinger Presents
Elle Décor’s Dining By Design

Story by Edward T. Callaghan
Photos by Rob Rich

ather together 50 of the world’s greatest design gurus—architects, artists, floral fashion, interior designers—and give them free reign to indulge their most over the top fantasies and you have Elle Décor’s Dining by Design presented by Champagne Taittinger, the most spectacular tabletop event of the year.

Co-hosts Margaret Russell, editor-in-chief of Elle Décor, Victoire Taittinger, architect David Rockwell and philanthropist Beth Rudin de Woody mobilized the entire design industry for the seventh year on behalf of the Design Industries’ Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA).

New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom was filled with eye popping displays by Versace, Christofle, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Vicente Wolfe and dozens more.  Standouts – and there were plenty – included Robert Rufino’s Zhivagoesque snow-covered table glistening with silver and crystal.

For Tiffany & Co., Robert Verdi’s creation for Champagne Taittinger was like the inside of the fabled champagne bottles with Swarovski crystals and milk glass globes.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy designer Thom Filicia opted for an outdoorsy Tuscan setting with vine covered arbor for Pier 1.

Designers Douglas Wilson,
Robert Verdi and
Carson Kressley

Uber architect David Rockwell, whose eponymous Rockwell Group created some of the world’s most unique restaurants and public spaces, went celebrity ga-ga with dinner ware embossed with the images of pop icons like Cher and Bette Midler.

Victoire Taittinger told us, “The family has for centuries been supportive of the arts and artists, so, the affiliation with DIFFA came naturally.  The art of handcrafted champagne marries well with the art of design.”

Upstairs, where the champagne was flowing faster than the Seine, we ran into three of TV’S interior design mavens: Doug Wilson of Trading Spaces, Robert Verdi of Surprise by Design and Queer Eye’s inimitable Carson Kressley.

Sipping the bubbly were Cooper Hewitt director Paul Thompson, Moby, Boy George (it was his night off then and now permanently since Taboo folded), Susan Magrino, Darcy Becker, Nina Griscom and our favorite couple on the scene, Rufus and Sally, that is the Earl and Countess of Albemarle.

The Countess and Earl of
Albermarle, Rufus and Sally

New York is not the only town to partake in this annual experience. Russell and Tattinger will be carting these unique displays all around the country: Houston, Kansas City (the largest attendance on the tour), Los Angeles, East Hampton, Atlanta, Chicago and Minneapolis.

For details about upcoming Elle Décor’s Dining by Design presented by Champagne Taittinger, visit

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