Venus Williams Celebrates Sportswear Line with Garden Soiree
by leigh crandall
Ask tennis star Venus Williams to sum up her sportswear label EleVen by Venus Williams, and she’ll use the same three words she does when talking about her personal style: “classic but fun.” It’s an apt descriptor for the new collection, which is inspired by European tennis tournaments; it features staples such as solid-hued polo shirts, tanks, and tennis skirts, as well as pieces with decidedly more flair, like capri pants and shorts in bold geometric patterns. Ultimately for this collection, which also debuts the brand’s first-ever performance shirts for men, Williams wanted to create clothes that “are wearable, fashionable, and that cross over,” she says, citing the women’s “Oh & Oh” graphic T-shirt as an example of a piece that can be worn on the court or off, paired with a blazer, heels, and jeans. Williams, who has 22 Grand Slam titles and three Olympic gold medals to her name, has also incorporated into her clothing personal philosophies that have driven her throughout her career. Customers will find handwritten notes featuring Williams’ favorite motivational words, like “Bring It” and “You Got ’Em,” hidden in each piece.
Williams’ love of personal touches in design also extends to the parties she hosts, including a fête to celebrate the latest from EleVen planned for August 11 at the Southampton home of Rita Schrager. Guests, invited via personalized letters from Williams to wear their “tennis best,” can expect an all-white palette for the tennis-meets-garden-party-themed event, with touches of whimsy added in the form of custom black, white, and tennis-ball yellow straws, cupcake toppers, water bottle labels, and other printables created by design studio Anders Ruff Custom Designs. “There’s a lot of attention to detail throughout the party, and that really reflects the collection,” says event planner Lara Shriftman.
Healthful food options are of paramount importance to Williams, who became a vegan in October 2011 after she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Sjögren’s syndrome. “It’s been great—for the waistline as well!” says Williams about how she’s felt since making the dietary switch. At the party, vegan hors d’oeuvres created by chef Lauren Von Der Pool—like vegan burgers topped with local butter lettuce, baby heirloom tomatoes, red onions, and béarnaise sauce—will be served alongside smoothies from Jamba Juice, all-natural blueberry tea from Talbott Teas, and a refreshing Honey Deuce cocktail, made with freshly squeezed lemons, Grey Goose vodka, and Chambord and garnished with honeydew melon balls. Even dessert takes a healthy twist with a tennis-court-themed vegan cake and chocolate coconut and peanut butter bars from vegan company Good Greens. Those with a devilish sweet tooth can snack on mini-cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop.
photography by Seth browarnik