The Sky's the Limit 
Published in: Southern Accents
By: Carol Isaak Barden
Photographed By: William Mappem

It all started simply enough.  A cocktail party to celebrate the launch of the Hermes men's collection.  

Robert B. Chavez, president and CEO of Hermes of Paris in New York, had in mind a seated dinner for 50 with a tantalizing French menu from Houston's best caterer.  The event would include the best wines and fine porcelain flown in from Paris -- a different pattern for every course.

As powers and I talk, Jackson Hicks, a God-is-in-the-details caterer arrives with an army of waiters, about one for every three guests.  "A typical residential kitchen isn't suitable for big seated dinner," explained Hicks who has decided how the operation should work and is setting up the temporary kitchen in the garage.  Within an hour, his staff has transformed the carriage house into a commissary.  Meanwhile, the kitchen, adorned with orchids, becomes a bar with infinite style.  "It's important to keep the mess out of sight," he says.

Before long, amid all the activity, a serene scene emerges -- a cool, uncluttered, mostly white room with burlap-covered tables draped in hem stitched linen.  The outdoor fireplaces are lit, the pool fountains are turned on and Hermes-orange pylons are situated in the street for valet parking attendants.

Three courses are served on five different patterns of china.  And make no mistake, the splash of color from porcelain precipitates discussions among guests about rigid table traditions.  "Hermes mixes things up with style," says Hicks, who encourages hosts to make waves  in the dining room.  Although some of his clients still revere tradition and believe china must match, Hicks thinks there are practical reasons to bend rules.  "If people collect things, an eclectic mix can be dramatic, bold, and much more interesting," he says.

A glorious sunset came and went, and the room, packed with social celebs in designer wear, buzzed with the energy of friends celebrating the night.  "Even though there were 50 people, it all felt very comfortable and cozy," says Chavez.