Article by Pat Gallagher, Images Courtesy of Elvis Presley Enterprises
Elegance and Style blended with southern hospitality was front and center inside the magnificent Guest House at Graceland Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee for three majestic days and nights the last weekend in September. Hosted by Graceland's First Lady Priscilla Presley, the weekend introduced audience members to a magical experience as they were treated to fashion, design and cooking seminars inside the Graceland theater, sitdown lunch and dinners highlighting southern comfort food (fried green tomatoes, anyone?), great music, line dancing inside the Graceland Ballroom, a tour of the Graceland mansion grounds ( where guests could engage in the ultimate fan experience and literally "feel" the spirit and legacy of the place that Elvis Presley - the King of Rock 'n Roll - called home).
Gladys Magazine enjoyed the company of Priscilla's special guests throughout the weekend including Zoe Gowen, Senior Homes Editor of Southern Living Magazine, who shared her "unique perspectives on outdoor living and southern hospitality:'; Michelle Dunavant and Mary Helen Butler from Memphis Botanical Garden who shared their expertise on how to create the perfect outdoor oasis; Renowned "Rockstar" lifestyle expert Jim Norton, who has over 500 "over the top" dinner parties under his belt, shared his tips for entertaining outdoors -- and along with Sam Andrews from Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken, treated the audience to a "sides of the south" lunch & learn with instructions on how to prepare Jim's macaroni and cheese (include smoked Gouda, Gruyere and extra sharp cheddar with Applewood smoked bacon and mayo) along with Sam's recipe for fried green tomatoes and the perfect recipe for fried chicken (All to die for!).
Interior designer Hope Wilkinson and lead interior architect for The Guesthouse at Graceland Hotel Aron Ramage discussed different styles of architectural and design details that make the southern style specifically unique. Interior designer Greg Baudoin explained how to create casual designs in your home to highlight your own southern flair. Orchid expert and Founder of Chadwick & Sons Orchids Art Chadwick discussed many different types of orchids sharing tips on how to decorate with orchids and MOST IMPORTANT: their care and how to keep them alive - no ice cubes! (An important lesson for people who are misinformed by those little instruction cards that accompany your store-bought orchid). Orchids live for decades - who knew?
Saturday evening, guests were treated to a special sit-down dinner: "Bellini's and Bites at the Barn Dinner Party:' Executive Memphis Chef Kelly English, who prepared an alfresco buffet dinner menu of southern classics (including braised beef short ribs over grits and peanut butter and banana bread pudding), served this crowd-pleasing meal under the stars on the grounds of Graceland Mansion overlooking the pasture - Priscilla's favorite spot at Graceland. After dinner, Priscilla and Graceland's Head of Archives Angie Marchese took the stage in the Guesthouse theater sharing personal vintage slide shows and videos inside the gates of Graceland with Priscilla sharing dozens of very personal memories of her life with the King of Rock 'n Roll.
Fashion icon Pat Kerr, who has been featured in the windows of the most successful upscale retailers in the country, showcased some of her world-famous lace creations (bridal couture, evening couture and children's couture) in her unique "Celebration of Life DisplaY:' Classic southern style including southern fashion essentials for every occasion was the topic of discussion when Priscilla and fashion experts Kerr, Katie Bodenhamer of Draper James, fashion experts Sid and Ann Mashburn, Emmy-Award winning costume designer Janie Bryant and Hal Lansky, owner of Lansky Bros. (where Elvis bought the plaid jacket he wore on his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956.) took the stage in the Guesthouse theater for a "Head-to-Toe Southern Fashion Seminar:'
Celebrity event planner Troy Williams ("The 50th Anniversary of The Carol Burnett Show" - not a bad gig) and motivational speaker and lifestyle expert Leigh Anne Tuohy (Yes, "The Blind Side") along with Kevin Coble of Le FLEUR Floral Studio joined Priscilla on stage as they shared their unique expertise on hosting perfect fall-themed parties.
Priscilla was directly involved with each invited guest and their unique presentations during the three-day extravaganza, participating in every discussion lending her personal thoughts and expertise throughout the weekend. The audience absolutely fell in love with the beautiful matriarch of Graceland and definitely went home with unique personal memories (including photos with Priscilla).
Enjoy the photo spread that includes all of the events, expert participants and special guests of this exciting, one-of-a-kind weekend at Graceland.