Eloise at The Plaza
Eloise is without a doubt, no holds barred, this Examiner’s early-girl hero.
One might say she could be considered “Sex in the City’s” Carrie as a girl – or perhaps her capricious aunt.
And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
Except that Eloise never grows up.
The darling of many a young girl’s dreams and the mischievous denizen of The Plaza hotel has a lot in common with Peter Pan – because she just never grows up.
(Eloise surely needs to launch a line of beauty products that promotes her recipe for preserving her youth with such stunning success!)
Equal parts smart city girl, sophisticated hostess and restaurant enthusiast, and savvy trend setter – Eloise remains a cosmopolitan icon to generations of urban kids of all ages.
This was the first Eloise celebration with her illustrator, Hillary Knight.
An intriguing, proper gentleman, Mr. Knight held court in – where else - the Palm Court in The Plaza, on the momentous occasion of Eloise’s 6th birthday party.
With poised elegance, he made the more than 10 back-to-back media interviews he tirelessly conducted one-on-one, appear like a cakewalk.
And he knows about good food and drink, too.
Noting this Examiner writes about food and drink, he thoughtfully shared the fact that prior to his Eloise collaborations he worked at Gourmet Magazine doing illustrations – “Mainly for the automat series,” he said.
The Eloise birthday party pre event was for members of the press, followed by a pink and white, glittering, happy tea party and book signing featuring Mr. Hilary Knight, for the more than 60 guests in attendance: children and their parents or caregivers who came dressed in their party-perfect attire.
To further honor Eloise – surely one of the hotel’s favorite guests - and a nod to her love of birthdays, all the guests received special birthday gift bags, compliments of The Plaza.
Leaving the pre-event, this Examiner could sense the guests’ palpable anticipation that hung in the air like so many of the star balloons that dotted the Palm Court like pink lollipops.
Anyone who’s had even a brief acquaintance with the gem of the landmark hotel that is The Plaza is familiar with the oversize gilt-framed portrait of Eloise that hangs in the hallway overlooking all the mahh-velous goings on in the Palm Court.
This Examiner’s father took her here for cherished visits when she was a child and in that sense not much has changed.
When out of town guests come to Gotham, one of our must-do, favorite tourist stops is a visit to Eloise for a classic insouciant pose under her watchful, impish stare. (Now if there were just rubber bands there for the end of the nose, the photo memory and "Selfie" would be complete!)
Mr. Knight can dish the dirt with the best and so it was a delightful, albeit startling discovery, to learn during the interview that the first portrait he did of Eloise went missing rawthter mysteriously, some time in the 1960’s.
It was reported that there was a clutch of drunken debutantes last seen near that Eloise portrait…
No one was ever fingered for the caper.
Further, he shared that some thought HE took the portrait -- or perhaps one of his cronies might’ve...
While he’d lost the sketches from the original, and repeated that he’d never worked on such a large scale. Mr. Knight graciously painted another Eloise portrait.
“Besides,” he said with a recollected confidence, ”She’s the boss.”
And one can just gaze over to Eloise’s hypnotic smile to see Mr. Knight captured the essence of her quirky Mona Lisa-like countenance.
The other noteworthy Eloise piece of lore Mr. Knight revealed was in response to this Examiner’s query about the real-life model for Eloise – that girl being Liza Minnelli.
Don’t misunderstand – I admire Ms. Minnelli’s cabaret and singing as much as the next. And there’s no denying her entertainment pedigree. In fact, that’s how this story came about.
It was rumored that because her mother, Judy Garland, traveled so much for work she often left her home alone. As much as one can be alone at The Plaza.
Thus all the easy references to how Eloise and her misfit, impish hijinks came about.
Adding fuel to the rumor is Eloise’s creator, Kay Thompson – is Liza’s aunt who attended to the little Liza while Mother Judy was “somewhere over the rainbow.”
As much as this all sounded possible – it remained most unsettling.
And then pouf!
Just like that, Mr. Knight dispelled the rumors as hogwash.
In fact, he was rawther quite adamant about it.
“No way.” He said reassuringly. Kay probably based Eloise a bit on her own personality, he explained. Of course Kay spent time with Liza but Eloise is her own, original character; like no other.
Mr. Knight and Kay Thompson were key collaborators on the Eloise series spanning six decades – and several generations of loyal fans.
There is no doubt Mr. Knight captured Kay’s vision and brought to life Eloise’s indomitable spirit as that unforgettable precocious, adventuress, curious young girl who lived a fun, every-day-is-a-party-life.
Looking ahead, Mr. Knight revealed he was presently working on a new book with his nieces. Stay tuned.
Take Eloise Home
“The Plaza pays homage to Eloise’s enduring place in the hotel’s history with a series of newly designed limited edition prints and commemorative art pieces by Hilary Knight.”
Upcoming events: Readings, Rawther Fancy Teas with Santa will take place in the Eloise Shop or Tea Room
(and please note, Hilary Knight’s attendance at the birthday party was a rawther special occasion)
For detailed information:
The Plaza and Hilary Knight introduced a holiday-themed limited edition print of the ever-charming Eloise; the first in a six-part series.
This means that throughout the year, Eloise enthusiasts can further delight in special occasions with Valentine’s Day, Easter, the 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas-themed prints.
“Fans who purchase all six prints will receive a custom seventh birthday-themed print, signed by Knight with a special custom inscription. Each series will include 100 prints, available for $250 each” according to The Plaza.
In 2014 Hilary Knight and The Plaza plan to release more themed print series curated from Eloise’s beloved misadventures.
Eloise Birthday Menu
Have some fun and re-create these mahh-velous Eloise recipes.
At least until the next Eloise celebration at The Plaza.
Sandwiches and Savories: Curried Lobster Salad, Local Apple Deviled Quail Egg Salad
Smoked Salmon, Wild Sturgeon
Roasted Turkey Sandwich, Pomegranate Chutney Cucumber Sandwich, Radish, Basil; Cucumber, Radish, Green Herbs Smoked Salmon, Endive Roquefort, Shaved Red Grapes, Watercress Prosciutto, Mozzarella, Pesto
Roast Beef, Horseradish
Scones: Freshly Baked, Warm Seasonal Scone, Plain and Cranberry-Orange Double Devonshire Cream, Lemon Curd, Preserves; Freshly Baked, Warm Seasonal Scones Double Devonshire Cream, Lemon Curd, Preserves;
Pastries & Sweets: Pate de Fruit with Gin Rickey Sugar Fudge Marshmallow Square Amarena Cherry and Chocolate Sachertorte Banana Financier
Hazelnut Napoleon; Jazz Age Chocolate Bon Bon; Black and White Cookies, Mini Canoli, Chocolate Cupcake, New York Cheesecake, Lemon Tea Cake, Profiteroles
Warm Fitzgerald Tea Or choice of Champagne (adults)
NV, Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label
NV, Perriet-Jouet Grand Brut
NV, Veuve Clicquot, Rose
Dios Baco Oloroso Sherry
The menu was curated into special, customized selections based on price and preference.