By Adele Chapin Posted February 17, 2014, 7:00 AM EST
WASHINGTON, D.C. A purple carpet and a step-and-repeat with a boxwood backdrop met guests at the 2014 BET Honors preshow dinner on February 7, held at Washington’s National Museum of Women in the Arts. The museum’s elegant Great Hall and upstairs mezzanine inspired the evening’s sumptuous purple look for the 250-guest dinner, with topiary and candelabras topping long tables set with rich eggplant and lavender tablecloths.
The seventh annual dinner kicked off the BET Honors weekend, drawing celebrities and luminaries such as Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson, Janelle Monáe, Wayne Brady, Ice Cube, Smokey Robinson, Motown legend Berry Gordy, American Express C.E.O. Kenneth Chenault, and visual artist Carrie Mae Weems to D.C.’s Warner Theatre for Saturday’s Honors show celebrating excellence in the African-American community.
With a building as grand as the National Museum of Women in the Arts, event designer André Wells of Events by André Wells said he knew a simple paper step-and-repeat would not be adequate. Instead, the boxwood step-and-repeat was echoed in the decor, with small boxwoods on tabletops and large boxwood hedges upstairs to hold escort cards and to serve as another photo backdrop for impromptu selfies. “We want it to be interactive,” said Wells, who has designed the event since its inception seven years ago.
Upstairs in the cocktail area, additional playful elements included paillette tablecloths and moss-covered bars. Downstairs, tables were named after BET Honors honorees, and tablescapes veered toward the eclectic, with different gold chargers at each place setting. Dinner by Occasions Caterers included cassoulet and black cod with mushroom risotto.
“The venue lends itself to an elegant event,” said Bobette Gillette, director of corporate relations, who worked closely with Wells on the event. Gillette noted that BET Networks chairman and C.E.O. Debra L. Lee appreciated the museum’s mission. “Debra is also an art collector, so we thought she would enjoy it here,” Gillette said.
In addition to the BET Honors dinner and show, the network hosted a BET Honors after-party on Saturday at the historic Howard Theatre. Natasha Bryson, senior manager of event productions and corporate relations at BET Networks, produced the event.