Diner en Blanc comes to D.C. for the first time

No one born after the “Mad Men” era needs an excuse to wear white after Labor Day, but just in case archaic protocol prevails there’s Diner en Blanc, the exclusive all-blanc everything pop-up picnic that was founded in Paris nearly three decades ago and on Thursday finally made its way to Washington after pit stops in Paris, Philadelphia, Singapore and New York, among other sexy locales.

At 5:30 p.m. sharp,well over 1,000 Washingtonians swathed all in white arrived at checkpoints dotted across the District to wait for their next instructions.

The orderly crowds came from the U Street corridor, Dupont Circle, Chinatown and Eastern Market, hauling portable tables for two, chic silverware, flameless candles and endless vases of hydrangeas. Of course, non-monochromatically clad folks had questions.

“Who are you guys?” “What’s going on?” “Did I miss the memo?”

They were told to head to Yards Park in Southeast–and the impromptu ivory parade began.

The idea that hundreds upon hundreds would sign up (and pay more than $100) to schlep across town for an al fresco dining “experience” of fancy cheeses and crisp crackers is much more than novel here, it’s practically impossible to imagine. Remember this town isn’t big on spontaneity.

But the event’s exclusivity was simply too appealing for most Washingtonians to ignore (only previous Diner en Blanc guests or friends of guests or the lucky ones lifted from the wait list can attend).

“It looks like Pinterest vomited all over their table,” noted one guest as an entire row of attendees unloaded their stylish accouterments. Once the tables were set and the Moet Ice Imperial (an official sponsor) was poured, attendees began to wave their white cloth napkins in the air. The dinner had begun.

We were promised all sorts of weird Instagram-worthy fashion do’s and dont’s like wedding dresses, butterfly wings and other exaggerated sartorial moments. And the night didn’t disappoint. There were as many ill-fitting tight skirts as there were custom and chic fascinators. There were powdered wigs, white tutus, and battery operated top hats.

But, in a refreshing twist for D.C., no one seemed to care.

Hundreds of people decked out in white had dinner at Yards Park last night, bringing his or her own white table, tablecloth, chairs and (not necessarily white) meals. PostTV tagged along to capture some of the napkin-waving and wig-wearing action. (Alice Li/The Washington Post)

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Helena Andrews is the co-author of The Reliable Source. Follow her on Twitter @helena_andrews, and send your hot tips, sightings, and gossip to reliablesource@washpost.com.
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