Bronson van Wyck didn’t become one of the New York City society and fashion world’s most in-demand event planners just by throwing spectacular parties and creating buzz for his clients—a blur of names like Chanel, Ferragamo, Sean Combs and Bill Clinton. He did it by dreaming up experiences that keep people talking for years: For Ferragamo, he filled a room with naked models; for a High Line park benefit, he seated donors near a giant electronic replica of a rising and setting sun. But “for the holidays, you go back to tradition,” he says.
It helps that tradition, for van Wyck, is a constant source of inspiration. Raised on an Arkansas farm by a Southern mother and a New England–bred father, the 38-year-old, a descendant of 1800s NYC mayor Robert Anderson Van Wyck, describes his youth as “Balmoral meets the American South”—a mix of British blue blood and rural Dixie. In his world, tradition might mean draping a table in the tartan plaid of his mother’s Scottish clan and stringing up garlands of magnolia leaves.
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Van Wyck has a knack for using his life experience as a source of ideas and new traditions. As a teenager, he’d watch relatives gather for dinner parties, the adults mixing Bloody Marys to their own idiosyncratic tastes. A post-college stint working for socialite and former US ambassador to France Pamela Harriman—who threw A-list bashes on a grand scale—enhanced his love of entertaining. And a little more than a decade ago, he and his mother, Mary Lynn, set up the firm Van Wyck & Van Wyck in New York City, planning big-ticket events and decorating private homes for the holidays. Now he’s taking his bespoke holiday-design skills public, launching a pop-up shop in Manhattan that runs until January. It sells custom-fit decorations like wreaths and magnolia garlands, monogrammed tartan tablecloths, vintage ornaments and his new line of cocktail mixes and salad dressings.