Well-known in the capital, these friends have revived the art of hospitality with a contest on Instagram and via their website. A return to true values in response to lockdown.By Éric Jansen
When it comes to hospitality, these two are pretty much know-it-alls. Arabelle Reille is the daughter of Baroness Inès Reille, who for years was recognised as one of Tout-Paris’s best-known hostesses. Maha Chalabi, Péri's mother, embodies all that is best in oriental hospitality. The two have been friends since they were teenagers and were made to get along. “We love to organize meals for our friends and it’s second nature for us to prepare a carefully thought-out dinner table often with a little touch of humour.” Lockdown however put the brakes on their passion. “All of a sudden frustration replaced conviviality. And we weren't alone… On Instagram, people were no longer posting pictures of parties or idyllic beaches, but snaps of dishes they had cooked. Home had become where it all happened.”
Pour déterminer la plus belle table, le duo s’est entouré d’un jury de choix : India Mahdavi, Stéphane Bern et Thierry Marx.
Faced with the restrictions of lockdown, the duo looked for an idea that could bring them together in a common project. They are not just friends, they had also discovered that they complement each other perfectly at work. In 2013, Péri Cochin had created “A Picasso for 100 euros”, a charity set up to fund a craftsmen’s village in Lebanon. In 2019, she repeated the operation and asked Arabelle for a helping hand. An art advisor, the young woman has an enviable address book and found the famous Picasso… “We not only worked hard but also had loads of fun. It’s very rare to have fun when working with someone, and that’s why we wanted to carry on.” After hours of brainstorming, they come up with their concept: Waww la table! A contest on Instagram for the most beautiful dinner table, with a prestigious jury each week: India Mahdavi, Thierry Marx and Stéphane Bern. “Friends of ours, yes, but each highly qualified to be judges.”
Une des nombreuses tables gagnantes. Toutes les semaines, elles sont postées sur Instagram et un très beau cadeau est remis au lauréat.
It was an immediate hit, and not only because Péri and Arabelle rewarded followers with gifts signed Dior, Baccarat, Christofle or Lalique. As the contest gained momentum, the duo moved into high gear and created a website where this new community of tableware lovers could order glassware specially created by India Mahdavi, buy or sell second-hand crockery and even follow video coaching courses with Françoise Dumas! The next step, partnerships with designers such as Hubert Le Gall and Olivier Gagnère. And how about a TV show one day? Alongside TV presenter Laurent Ruquier Péri Cochin has already “played the role of the wacky bourgeois...” A great way to bring tableware back into fashion.