Recently we had the amazing honor to interview the world’s leading event designer and extraordinarily talented Colin Cowie. You can imagine our excitement level when he agreed! Not only is Colin known for orchestrating the most spectacular celebrations across the globe, he is also an authority on living and style, an author, interior designer, and a celebrated television personality. With a show on HSN Network selling home decor and eight best-selling books, Colin has earned his reputation as a leader in the industries of design and lifestyle. His impeccable attention to detail allows him to execute the most gorgeous and flawless events!
On top of all that, he has planned gorgeous events for high profile celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Bruce Willis, Kelsey Grammer, and many more! He truly is an outstanding individual and aspiring entrepreneur.
See below for his insightful interview
You have established such a successful business and are sought after by many celebrities. How did you get started and when did you realize this would be your dream career?
I started as a one man show — chief chef, waiter and bottle washer. I used to wake up at 6 am and go to the flower market, arrange the flowers, do the marketing, then head home to cook the meal. I’d set their table, cork the wines, pour drinks, serve the meal, and do the clean up. And I put 120 percent into everything I do. It’s kept me at the top of my field. My favorite days are always the day of the party or opening of a project. I never set out doing what I’m doing now. One step led to another and the dream has come to life.
The weddings and events you orchestrate are beyond gorgeous! Are there certain design elements you rely on to make all your celebrations extraordinary?
I like to work within a family of color, using a limited amount of materials to weave a thread of style throughout…from the invitation to the thank you notes. It creates a cohesive vision. My events are always executed with tremendous attention paid to every detail and with great production value. Every party has a well thought out beginning middle and end, before a guests looks at their watch wondering what’s next, it’s already happening.
You have a remarkable sense of style that shines through in each event you create. Where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by many things: my travels, my friends, magazines, movies, the stores I shop in and many that I just browse. I love food and find inspiration from the many great chefs I’m fortunate enough to work with. Most importantly, everyone wants something personal and I love learning about my clients tastes — their likes and dislikes, then creating something that reflects their personal style and always exceeds their expectations.
What has been the most memorable wedding you designed and why?
The next one I’m working on, that’s really how I feel. Each is so different, I’m able to start with a blank canvas and go from there. Bringing a vision to reality and seeing it all come together is like weaving a thread thru a needle, there are so many moving parts that must come together seamlessly, with only one take; it’s like live TV.
What three things do you feel are most important to having a remarkable wedding?
It needs to be personal. A remarkable wedding should be entirely about the bride and groom, their likes orchestrated into a celebration that’s uniquely and personally theirs, in ever detail. From the type of party the host to the color scheme, the food served, the cocktails offered, the music playing and of course the décor,
Production value. There is an art to throwing a wedding and it’s all in the timing. A well-produced wedding has a distinctive beginning, middle and end with everything smoothly orchestrated without down time. Guests are never looking at their watch wondering when the next thing will take place. Whether it’s the ceremony, which always happens within 15 minutes of invitation time, to cocktail hour being just that, one hour from start to finish which means 45 minutes of cocktails with guests ready for dinner and seated by the end of the hour.
The food and beverage plan. What’s served and how it’s presented are of equal importance. A delicious piece of grilled chicken that’s properly cooked is much better than a fancy dish with a sauce on top that no one recognizes. If it’s a seated meal, it should be served within an hour and a half with no lag between courses, appropriate music playing in the background to enable conversation when guests are seated around the table. I consider lighting and sound to be fluid and constantly adjusted to control energy and ambiance. In the end, everyone leaves saying it was the best party ever and they can’t believe it’s already over; the reason being it moved along so smoothly and elegantly.
From your experience what advice would you give clients on a restricted budget? For example are there any cost effective and unique ways to pull in fabulous design that won’t deplete a budget?
Pick three things and do them well rather than 5 things on the skinny. Spend your money on what your guests will get the most out of, offer a better cut of meat and quality of wine instead of party favors, serve a delicious 3 course meal including dessert instead of an elaborate multi course menu. Offer a signature cocktail instead of the proverbial red wine, white wine and water, save them for the meal service. And rather than hiring a band, book a DJ…find one who understands how to work the energy in the room so when its time to party everyone is on the dance floor.
You also have show on HSN showcasing fabulous Home Décor with endless options from dressy and classy to sleek and chic. Have you always be into interior decorating?
Each wedding I design is like an interior design project unto itself. I don’t have a signature look, my personal tastes are minimalist, but I love the classics. By being versatile I’m able to design products that I know will appeal to the HSN costumer, just as easily as I can design a hotel or private residence. I always start by understanding the end user and their needs.
How do you manage to look great with such a demanding job that keeps you traveling a majority of the year?
Last year, I spent over 250 days traveling. There was this one week when I was in seven different cities in five different countries meeting the different Colin Cowie Lifestyle teams and working around the clock. I wake up and head right to the gym by 8 am. Breakfast is eggs, wheat toast, a smoothie, a hand full of vitamins, and no tea or coffee (only water when the sun is up), and then the day begins. Tequila is my cocktail of choice on the weekends.
Lastly, what do you feel is the meaning of true style?
True style has nothing to do with what you wear or how much money you spend. It’s about how you treat yourself and those around you. I treat people with respect and am grateful for everything, they’re the foundation for how I live my life.
Thanks again Colin!