Betty Ford enlisted the aid of David Jones, a floral designer and interior decorator from Los Angeles, to put together decorations for this dinner honoring the Shahahshah and Empress of Iran. It was a white tie event, and one of the more formal dinners that the Fords would host.
The garden-themed decor featured bronze sculptures on loan from the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they were designed by American artists Robert Ingersoll Aitken, Abstenia St. Leger Eberle, Janet Scudder, and Bessie Potter Vonnoh. Each sculpture was placed on a low platform surrounded by greenery and candles.
Garlands draped on the back of the chairs and around the room finished the decor. The garden theme carried outside of the State Dining Room as well with the addition of trees and planters in the Cross Hall.
Although the Johnson china with its wildflower pattern was often used at state dinners, for this one the meal was served on the Truman china with its green border. The Kennedy crystal and Monroe vermeil completed the table settings.
"In 1985, when the Reagans hosted Prince Charles of England, Mrs. Clarke filled vases with hundreds of roses. They can be seen in the background of the memorable photos of John Travolta dancing with Lady Diana, her dark gown swirling around her.” -From the Washington Post’s remembrance.
Thank you, Nancy Clarke, for bringing so much beauty to the White House.
Former White House florist Nancy Clarke has died. Her Web site has a lovely gallery of her work for six American presidents.