Tracy Stern is A Teas

30Apr09

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Very Short, Schiaparelli Pink and Orange Creamsicle Cocktail Minis Melt Me in the Wardrobe.  I am age 7, in my mother’s closet. Little hands reach up to the hem edges of hot pink and orange popsicle colored wool mini-dresses dresses hanging there and I am “seven-year old swooning” over the juice of the colors, the weight of the fabric, the jewels embedded at the collar and the imagined nightclubs they are worn in.  I am already extending my world beyond the plastic bodies of Ken and Barbie and into far better imagined worlds evoked by hot-colored-party-worn dresses, lingering perfumes and liasions.

I am convinced my mother is Twiggy and hot pink and orange together will forever excite me. Clearly, the key to one’s life path can be found in child’s play…a tease of the Future.

Flash forward to my meeting with New York’s teasing hot pink and orange confection, Tracy Stern of Salon Tea.

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Sunny Palm Beach, 1973.

Tracy Stern gets her first flowery porcelain tea set from her parents’ latest antique jaunt to Europe and easily sees herself presiding over a Salon in Paris circa 18th century mixing Artists, Politicians, Writers, Scholars, Dandies, Musicians, Famous Lovers and Society hounds over fragrant and exotic teas and spiced cakes. She is Alice, assembling the cast at the Mad Hatter’s Tea, ruling the party and lording like a Lady from her pink velvet tufted throne, except she, unlike Alice, is not at all mad about “Murdering Time.”

She is having a blast and solidly set on her important hostess role and intent upon her game of “Tease.”

A Tease is a Flirt, Fun and a Portent of things to come.  Teas love rituals, excite exotically, calm, soothe, heal and bring people together.  Tracy Stern is all Teas.

Her Biz.

Today Tracy is the worldwide empire of Tracy Stern Tea, a society tea mistress lavishly combining hot pink and orange everywhere and making sure there is a disco ball in every room. She is a total tease encouraging the Murder of Time with the luxury of slowing down and sipping, bathing, eating, breathing and slathering on of TEA.

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I’ve always admired her massive collection of vintage designer jewels and party dresses and was curious to know more about what makes Tracy tick and what makes her make teas. (Here she presides over her orange and pink home office and rocks a vintage Miriam Haskell necklace and vintage feather dress by Sonia Rykiel.)

I was happy to run into Tracy in her new Salontea Bar, 501 E 75th Street, where I went to have tea with my friend, Dame Lori, the city’s Pleasure Expert. (of course, more on Lori for another post!) Without hesitation, Tracy agreed to an exclusive look into her closets and her world at home.

The Living Room.

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The lushness of Tracy Stern Home (your next license darling!) begins with creamy white marble floors throughout creating a massive roller skating venue which Tracy’s kids, Chloe and Hunter on wheels, do endless rounds after round after round.  The windows wrap on 3 sides creating a floating island effect, especially in the way Tracy created individual sitting areas which all work together but each one cultivates a different mood. You can feel the guests who gather here and imagine the 18th century tea hostesses in hot pink and orange gowns who serve on roller skates at Tracy’s parties!

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Every room has a light fixture that hovers between modern, vintage elegant and kitsch…she makes most of them.  Gold alligator upholstery is the only fitting choice for a Palm Beach bred entrepreneur serving tea in New York like it’s 1840.

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Everywhere there are The Tableaus.  In the hallway, Tracy’s own sketch sits among her trademark themes, silhouette portraits, graphic lines and drama.  Everywhere there are surprises that work from the black flocked wallpaper in her son’s room to a 7 foot tall massive silhouette of Alfred Hitchcock in her daughter’s room.

The Kitchen.tracy-stern_kitchen_chloe

Mama Disco ball lords over the kitchen along with daughter Chloe taking a break from the mad rounds with her brother.

The Closet.

Tracy begins…”This is Miriam Haskell.”  “This one was on the Dior runway.”  “This one is Palm Beach thrift, I can’t say where because I already fight with Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler to see who gets what first.” “I have tons more in the back.”  “These shoes I designed were worn by Paris Hilton.”  This woman needs a TV show. (or a curated show of her vintage collections, which I vow to do with her on the spot!)

Notes on The Bedroom.

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The Dress: 1970’s YSL, the jewels are No-Name Vintage.

The Signature Cool: “One should always have paintings on the ceiling.”  Tracy did a massive framed parquet of golden tone woods on the ceiling as you enter, she calls it “golden Mondrian.”

The Get Away:  The Bathtub, with tea and candles.  Every night.

The Exercise.  Fourteen flights of stairs instead of the elevator.

The Bedside Books:  “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, Donny Deutsch‘s book and “Richer Than Spices” by Gertrude Z.Thomas, the story of how tea was brought to England through Catherine of Bragnaza, a Portugese princess whose dowry from Charles ll of England, introduced cane, lacquer, cottons, tea, spices and porcelain to England, and so revolutionized taste, manners, craftsmanship, and history in both England and America.

Tracy and Tea would not be here if it wasn’t for these two royal lovers and the Tease of a Dowry.

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From the esoteric to the simply childlike, Tea is a Tease. Bored royal lady smarties, women excluded from the coffee shops of men talking politics, geishas and monks with time on their hands adoring the meditation and enlightenment aid of tea… all are parts of the global puzzle of the still mysterious Time-Murdering Culture of Tea. Deeper still are the “hmm, that makes sense” rants of my muse, Terence McKenna, author of “Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution.” His comprehensive theory that altered states have created culture as an agreement between plants and humans reads like an other-worldly tease tickling the human imagination.

On a lighter note, on Tracy’s new CD release of Tea Party mix of Paris tunes (including a song by my favorite, sultry Natacha Atlas), Billie Holiday croons the childlike but brilliant anthem for the contemplated, playful and tea-infused life. It’s totally in line with Tracy’s impassioned motto and the key to Why Tracy Stern Makes Tea: Enjoy Life. Drink Tea. Celebrate Often.

When we wanna work we work, when we want to play, we play.   In our happy setting, we’re getting.. some fun out of life.  Maybe we do the right thing, maybe we do the wrong…spending each day wending our way along…Billy Holiday

tracystern.com

photos of Tracy and her home by Kaitlyn Barlow and Nina Mattar, written by Jade Dressler




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