The Steeple Times asks Atlanta based lifestyle expert Danielle Rollins: What’s on your mantelpiece?
The Steeple Times shares “wit and wisdom”. What’s your guiding force?
My guiding force is to share a chic and sometimes tongue in cheek guide to living and entertaining. Let’s face it, we all need a way to find the pretty in the impossible sometimes and who couldn’t use a few antidotes, tips, treats and easy ways for adding a little panache to everyday living?
“Don’t get even, get medieval” is, in our humble opinion, a great motto. What’s yours?
I am not sure I can ever top the illustrious and oh so clever Elsie de Wolfe’s bon mot: “Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you”. I try to adhere to this little prescription in word and deed.
Kerry Katona was considered unacceptable in 2007. Who or what is unacceptable in 2015?
I think the one thing that is always unacceptable and should always be out of favour is a lack of manners.
In addition, in people that are considered well known for causes that are based on a sense of narcissism – which would include most manufactured bands, reality stars and those who are famous for the sake of being famous – there is also an unacceptable general lack of graces and an abundance of entitlement. It is not attractive, in anyone.
I would suggest that if you don’t want people to write or say bad things about you, you should not do bad things. If you have to ask if it is a bad thing, ask if you would want it done to you. It is really that simple.
Tony Blair misses being Prime Minister. What do you miss most in your life?
Given that I am at the tail end of the throes of a full on renovation and living in a transitional space (AKA “an apartment”), I miss having a space to entertain friends and family, a cosy spots to curl up with my dogs to read a book in front of a roaring fire, a place for working on a puzzle, playing a board game or simply a hand of cards. Even more, I miss having a garden as they are one of the only places I find I am truly able to relax.
What might you swap all your wealth for?
Well, given that I have had one hell of a nasty divorce, I have had that taken care of for me, so I would say my ex-husband. It is perhaps a rather ungracious thing to say, but it is the truth.
Donald Trump was once a case of: “If you owe the bank a thousand, they close you down; but if you owe the bank a billion, you own the bank”. What’s your view on the banking crisis?
I am afraid that that old idiom “you will always have to pay the piper” is true and instead of the children being lured away, it is the rats that are coming back. I really dislike the idea of ‘The Donald’ for President, and as much as I think he is a bold businessman, I am afraid there would be hell toupee and the banking crisis would be the least of it.
What phrase or word do you most loathe?
I have a few, but I despise the word “moist” most of all. I also intensely dislike the words “billfold”, “couch” and “drapes”. If someone tells me about their “couch”, it is like fingernails on a chalkboard and I have been known to have a Rainman like reaction and find myself repeating: “Sofa, you have a sofa, not a couch”. I’ll add that I also find anyone who describes themselves, or refers to others, as “classy” since 99% of the time, they aren’t.
In the UK, some people consider charity to “begin at home”. What’s your view and what causes do you personally support?
Charity starts in the home and it starts at birth, taught by example more so than words. Having charitable minded children is a lot like preventing having spoiled and entitled children: If you wait until they are of an age to be expected to do it and try to instill it then, rather than teaching it all along, it is impossible.
Teach children when they look at others and ask why they don’t have the same, to look for others who don’t have enough and ask why they don’t. I am a big believer that creating jobs is better than giving a handout. I am an unapologetically outspoken advocate for domestic abuse awareness and education.
I support many charities that focus on women and children. In particular, I am most proud of an event I co-founded with two of my closest friends eight years ago following a near fatal accident of one of my children eight years ago. It is called “The Women of Style and Substance” and I continue to chair it each year. The annual fashion show and luncheon, sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue and The St. Regis, brings in a major fashion designer and highlights the charitable contributions and personal style of eight Atlanta women each year to benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
The judge in Law Abiding Citizen states: “I can pretty much do whatever I want” before being blown up whilst answering her mobile phone. What’s your view on the appropriate use of such devices?
I hate to admit that I can be a repeat offender of this habit and the punishment of having to answer this crime will make my children gleeful because I can be guilty of “do as I say, not as I do”. It is a constant challenge for me to turn off my phone and myself, for that matter, in the never-ending quest to get more done, in less time.
The efficiency of portable technology has a downside, but to that end, devices should be a never at a dinner party as should be talking on one in a public space where proximity forces another person to unwillingly be a third party to the conversation.
One of my greatest fears after the advent of having Wi-Fi accessibility on planes is that people will soon be able to use cell phones. Can you imagine the consequences?
If you could fill a carriage on The Orient Express, who would be your fellow passengers?
All aboard! Elsie de Wolfe, because there is nothing she did or didn’t do that I do not like; Sir Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine, a woman who was never afraid to speak (or write) her mind; Oscar de la Renta, whom I considered to be the epitome of the rare species known as “gentleman”; Miles Redd, a modern day gentleman, thankfully, with impeccable manner, style, charm and wit. I owe a lot of where I am today, to this fellow southerner & you always “dance with the one who brung ya”; Cecil Beaton, because he certainly knew how to make a party fun; Johnny Hartmann and Errol Garner, because together they made some of the most divine and timeless music. The list could go on and on, but smaller parties are the most fun.
If you were unfortunate enough to end up on death row, what would be your last meal and where would you eat it?
I am not one to take to the table when I am stressed, which I guess is quite fortunate given my last few years. I’d have potato chips, caviar and champagne.
What time is it acceptable to consume the first drink of the day?
I may be blonde, but it is always 5 o’clock somewhere and desperate times call for desperate measures. Who am I to judge? People who write books on entertaining and are known for daring cocktail concoctions are not advised to comment on the drinking rules for others.
A Negroni, a martini or a cup of tea?
A Negroni but I would take an old fashioned over any of them. Like any proper Southerner, I like my bourbon.
Whose parties do you enjoy the most and why?
Having a book on entertaining is one of the fastest way to turn up on the save for fancy occasions list, only, because people think you will be critiquing their every move and fear to extend the invite. Couple that with being an attractive divorcee and you can be sure the mailbox is empty. I have never been to a bad party. I always love the next one the best, and I am lucky I travel a lot and have so many great (and secure) friends who know how to host a good time.
Who is the most positive person you know?
I am not far off the mark. Life is too short, or too long, to be a droll dreary drag. I wake up happy even when I have every reason not to.
What’s your most guilty pleasure?
Time off with my family and loved ones. Frozen York Peppermint Patties, especially the new minis, are something I will admit to not wanting to admit loving.
If a tattoo were to sum you up, what would it be of?
Oh dear, next question? I am afraid that thought is simply too ghastly. It is like asking what type of gemstone I would put on a piercing in a place other than my ears.
If you were a car, what marque would you be?
A wood sided navy blue Grand Wagoneer: Proudly American, solid, dependable, stylish yet rugged and a classic.
Cilla Black presented Surprise, Surprise. Tell us the most surprising thing about you.
I think people assume that I am quite the gadabout given the “lifestyle expert” title I’ve acquired. Hell, you have to call yourself something and I didn’t make up; it was assigned to me. Rather than always being about town and on the go-go-go, I am actually rather reserved and quite shy until I get to know someone. I like a fairly good-sized chunk of solitude.
I also possess a wicked sense of humour, I am a tetrachromat and I am fiercely loyal.
What’s currently sitting on your mantelpiece?
I look forward to having a mantelpiece. I tend to favour the things over, not on, a mantelpiece, so as not to detract from the focal point. I prefer simple pots of seasonal flowering plants or greenery, perhaps a pair of candlesticks for a little added evening glow and an objet in the centre, especially if it’s a sentimental one with a good story.
Mixing a dash of glamour with an approachable flair, lifestyle expert Danielle Rollins sets the standard for what she describes as Gracious Living & Stylish Entertaining™. Rollins is the author of Soiree Entertaining with Style and a contributing editor at VERANDA. Follow her on Twitter at @drollinsstyle and Instagram at @danielledrollins.
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