Event designer Bronson van Wyck relives a 1999 New Year’s Eve fête that nearly froze his career in its tracks, accompanied by photos from an equally memorable 1978 bash at New York City’s Studio 54.

Foreground: Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol, photograph by Robin Platzner

I had just started my business when I was asked to help with a Millennium-themed New Year’s Eve party for 500 people in Sun Valley, Idaho.

The client had fantastic taste; we designed a tent with beautifully dyed, pale terracotta fabric that was not easy to hang in the -20 degree weather.

Two days before the party, my team and I noticed that the tent’s ceiling was a little wet. Fifteen minutes later, it started sprinkling inside. Because it was so cold, as soon as someone breathed, water vapor would condense on and then drip from the ceiling.

Grace Jones, photograph by Allan Tannenbaum

Nobody knew how to fix it, and I thought my career in party planning was over — I only had done two events before this.

I didn’t have the professional network I do now, so I called my junior high Earth science teacher, who laughed at me before coming up with a convection system to suck up the moisture using little fans along the perimeter of the tent between the structure and fabric.

For the next 48 hours, we kept those things going all day.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Inside florist Eric Buterbaugh’s Los Angeles perfumery, designer Isaac Mizrahi shares favorite baubles from his stash of Eisenberg costume jewelry.


Straggling party animals, photograph by Tod Papageorge