If there is one weekend to land on the glorious island of Nantucket it is for Nantucket by Design, August 1st to 3rd, a whirl and swirl of celebrations of the island’s influence on American Design — lunches, lectures, preview of the Antiques Show, private dinners and a grand finale at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. With the elegant Phoebe Tudor as the Chair, you can guarantee a whale of a time on this historic aquatic enclave.
This hook-shaped patch of sand, 30 miles out to sea has been shaped by water, wind and the shifting whimsy of Mother Nature. Some believe that it will cease to exist in another few hundred years, vanishing back into the sea. Nantucket or “far away place” is sometimes referred to as the “Grey Lady” as it is often shrouded in fog and sea spray.
Its history is familiar and fascinating. The island was settled in the 1600s by colonists seeking religious freedom. The early settlers tried their hands at farming, when this proved unsuccessful, attention was turned outward to the sea. Islanders set sail to the open water in search of bounty and fortune, never looking back. Sperm whales were their prey and by the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Nantucket became the whaling capital of the world and among the wealthiest communities in the country. Nantucket whaling prowess was known around the world as ships circumnavigated in search of these beasts of the sea.
As kerosene replaced whale oil, the tides of fortunes reversed on the island and by the late 1800s the population dwindled. Nantucketers abandoned the island to pursue other opportunities. This pensury proposition eventually proved fortuitous to the island. Those that remained had no funds to update buildings and cottages, thus they were left unchanged for over a century.
The rustic beauty of Nantucket Style catches your breath in the abundance of bright white clapboard, weathered grey shingles, picket fences, vibrant climbing roses and great profusions of hydrangeas. The town fathers have maintained a firm influence on the process of new construction. This has resulted in the most charming and picturesque destinations on the Eastern Seaboard, attracting thousands of visitors and summer residents who seek its rustic simplicity.
Nantucket Design Week is a celebration of its individual style and we will impart a little of our What2WhereWhere style for the whirlwind schedule of the design driven destinations.
Bunny Williams, the grand dame of design will be signing books and presenting her stunning style at the Design Luncheon in the iconic White Elephant Hotel on Thursday, August 1. This sell-out event is expertly Chaired by Chesie Breen and Stacey Bewkes who are tops in their social and visual fields. Stacey as Founder of Quintessence, a lifestyle blog, and Chesie as Editor-in-Chief ID Boston; and Co-Founder of NivenBreen.
While many of the talented designers have a knack for great color, in August I adhere to an all-white palette. Can you imagine a more easy, breezy packing scheme? For the luncheon, a versatile Tory linen shift is just the ticket. The accessories complete the casual feel of the island.
Hilary has put together a quintessential Nantucket ensemble, from the blue and white ticking stripe dress, hemp espadrilles, to the shell embellished bag, it is a simple yet stunning statement on summer dressing.
White is always my go-to color in the summer. It is fresh, versatile and cool feeling when the heat is on. I like this dress as it can be dressed up or down as you head to the many different events of the week. A wedge heel is always a good idea when navigating the cobblestone streets of the Island. And if not carrying a Nantucket lightship basket, a pretty shell-embellished tote is the perfect piece for the island life.
Hilary caught up with Stewart Manger for a little tutorial on Nantucket Style. According to Stewart, “The architecture of the homes found on Nantucket reflect its long history. The most famous is the raw shingle-style house which is found all over the island. Nantucket by Design will bring together interior designers to reflect on the preservation of historic houses including the New England School as well as other historic styles.”
After lunch, you will have a little down time to enjoy the island’s many charms, then it is off to change for the opening of the Nantucket Summer Antiques Show Preview Party in partnership with the The Nantucket Historical Association. Co-chaired by Kelly Williams & Andrew Forsyth and Pamela & Max Berry with the Honorary Chairs, design world’s Big Guns Richard Keith Langham, Alex Papachristidis & John Rosselli. Cocktails and light bites will enhance your viewing pleasure as you will have a sneak peak before the show opens its doors to the public.
For what to wear, my romance of summer white continues with a nostalgic pairing of wicker and lace. This fab sheath from Ralph Lauren is from his lower priced lines and it looks like so much more — a true updated classic. RL is one of those rare brands whose style and execution transcends pricing. Don’t you just love the Cane Bag from J. McLaughlin? so summery!
There are so many inviting and enticing events to enjoy that you will never catch your breath. Luckily, we are simplifying your What to Wear questions. This is a versatile summer day’s assemblage. The key is the large tote that carries your swimsuit, cover up, biking shorts and shirt so that you are ready for the pastimes that are so much a part of the Nantucket charm.
You can view the entire schedule of events at Nantucket by Design.
Then there is the grandest finale to the week of visual virtuosity. Held at the Nantucket Whaling Museum, Night at the Museum is an epic evening immersed in Nantucket’s rich maritime history, with great grog, grub and dancing to a lively band, Yacht Rock Schooner. Enjoy the evocative rooftop vistas over the harbor. Who knows what spirits you will encounter at this monument to the past and the relentless heros who ruled the seas just over a century ago?
Castaway Chic is the theme of the evening and we found a romantic frock of white eyelet that has a nostalgic feel, while the earrings are a cluster of little bits found at sea. The wrap can be tied, buccaneer style or worn against the chill of the salty sea breeze. We must mention here that a “Theme Party” is not the same as a “Costume Party.” Although some will go full “Lost at Sea” we prefer a subtle suggestion of it.
This map of the island’s Historical Sites is courtesy of Nantucket Chamber of Commerce.
And if your schedule allows, don’t miss the most hauntingly beautiful film about the island by Ric Burns at Nantucket Whaling Museum. Showtimes are 9:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.