Backstage at San Francisco Opera > September 2013 > 5 Questions with Colin Cowie
5 Questions with Colin Cowie
This Friday, San Francisco Opera will celebrate the opening of our 91st Season with a gala opening night like none other. Co-chaired by Ann Girard and Mai Shiver, San Francisco Opera Guild’s sold-out 2013 Opera Ball: The Garden of Good and Evil will be created by celebrity event designer Colin Cowie and will reflect the celestial and devilish themes of the evening’s performance––late 19th-century Italian composer Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele.

Colin Cowie is one of the most recognizable and sought-after event planners in the industry and is well known for his stunning celebrity weddings, Grammy Awards and Oscar Awards parties, luxury hotel openings and other high profile celebrations around the world. The party planner of choice for celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian, the designer appears regularly on television shows including The Today Show, CNN and Access Hollywood. Also a prolific author, Cowie has written numerous books, including six wedding books, two entertaining cookbooks, a book on living with style and three books on design. We sat down with Colin to ask him 5 questions in anticipation of Opening Night.

What inspired you to begin your career planning and designing events? 

I have always been a dreamer – I love fantasy – I love taking people on a journey – I love the idea of creation, and this career seemed like the one thing that could incorporate all of that. I grew up in central Zambia in Africa and we were always welcome people into our home- entertaining them and making them feel welcome.
What can you tell us that we can expect from Opera Ball 2013? Any hints you can share about the décor?

Skulls and feathers – wait and see- it will be just the right amount of good and evil. 

How did you come to work with the San Francisco Opera Guild on this year’s Opera Ball?

Lorre Erlick (, who lives in the Bay area, and is now heading up our newly established San Francisco office, made the introduction to the SF Opera for us.  We had our first meeting and immediatley knew we were in sync on how we saw the vision of this spectacular night unfolding.  It has been such a pleasure to work with them and  we worked closely through the entire planning stages.

[Above: Colin Cowie with Opera Ball 2013 Co-chairs Ann Girard and Mai Shiver. Photo by Drew Altizer]

You seem to have a very busy schedule—designing events around the world, writing books, making television appearances, etc.! How do you do it all and is there something specific that keeps you centered?

I live by the motto - "live hard- play hard –party harder".   I travel at 120 MPH fueled with big doses of style passion and glamour, and that gets me from A to B – everyday- every week- every month- every year. 

[Above: Boito's Mephistopheles. Photo by Prasad & Valerie]

What advice can you give for someone planning to attend Opera Ball this year? Any words of wisdom?

When coming to the Opera opening this year I suggest you come dressed in your chicest of chic . We will start the experience in the gardens of good and  magically transport you to the Opera and after that we will bring  you back to the gardens  of evil where we are sure you are going to have a fabulous night- so come with an open mind and be prepared to have a ball!
Posted: 9/3/2013 1:49:35 PM by Colin Cowie, Opera Ball 2013 Designer
Filed under: 2013-14Season, design, Guild, Mephistopheles, OpeningNight


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