Decorating & Entertaining Ideas

Inside a Hot L.A. Designer’s Backyard Movie Night

Inside a Hot L.A. Designer’s Backyard Movie Night
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If there’s one Los Angeles party you want an invite to, it’s Cynthia Vincent’s outdoor movie night under the stars. The Twelfth Street fashion designer has been hosting screenings in her dreamy backyard for more than 20 years, so we were beyond thrilled to join. See how she pulls off this fun alfresco fete, score her laid-back, boho style tricks, and shop the look. Ready, set, action!

Tucked into a vibrant blue nook (painted with Behr’s Sapphire Lace), Cynthia’s outdoor bed is a favorite place for her family to hang. When she’s not using it, she simply covers it, pillows and all.

Tucked into a vibrant blue nook (painted with Behr’s Sapphire Lace), Cynthia’s outdoor bed is a favorite place for her family to hang. When she’s not using it, she simply covers it, pillows and all.

THE SEATING: Layered and Lively

Cynthia created cool, comfy nooks for lounging by piling her patio furniture with throws and pillows pulled from inside her home. Partygoers also kicked back on rugs covering the ground, which provided extra padding and kept their garb grass-stain free.

Cynthia’s approach to mixing and matching? Start with one favorite piece, nail down what you love about it—color, pattern, style—then choice accompanying accents that have the same characteristics.

Cynthia’s approach to mixing and matching? Start with one favorite piece, nail down what you love about it—color, pattern, style—then choice accompanying accents that have the same characteristics.

My personal style is eclectic. It’s a mash-up of influences from all over. I always say all tribes are welcome. It’s how I design and how I decorate.

— Cynthia Vincent
When it’s not showtime, Cynthia uses the movie-screen line to hang party decorations or her daughter’s drying artwork.

When it’s not showtime, Cynthia uses the movie-screen line to hang party decorations or her daughter’s drying artwork.

THE SET-UP: Easy Does It

All you need is a sheet, a clothesline, and clothespins to pull off a Cynthia-style screen. As for placement, hang it in a spot that will be bathed in the least amount of “other” light possible because there’s no faster way to kill a movie screening than with street-light glow. Cynthia also has her own projector (they’re a cinch to rent if you don’t), and built-in outdoor speakers, but swears by Stellé’s Audio Pillar, a portable system that works with Bluetooth she’s used in the past and loved.

When throwing a backyard bash, pull your favorite pillows, blankets, and tableware out of your house and use them alfresco. It’ll make your outdoor space seem like a seamless extension of your home’s stylish interior.

When throwing a backyard bash, pull your favorite pillows, blankets, and tableware out of your house and use them alfresco. It’ll make your outdoor space seem like a seamless extension of your home’s stylish interior.

When the movie started, we had extra chairs, but everybody went straight for the floor. Strangers were practically on top of each other. We were passing around Milk Duds and popcorn. It was so fun!

— Cynthia Vincent
The ultimate sign of a sure-to-be-good party, many enthused guests arrived early, eager to catch up before the opening credits rolled.

The ultimate sign of a sure-to-be-good party, many enthused guests arrived early, eager to catch up before the opening credits rolled.

People went crazy for Cynthia’s nacho bar, which included sliced jalapeños, pico de gallo, scallions from her garden, corn, beans, sour cream, guacamole, and two types of cheese sauces (one fancy, one Velveeta; most guests opted for the latter).

People went crazy for Cynthia’s nacho bar, which included sliced jalapeños, pico de gallo, scallions from her garden, corn, beans, sour cream, guacamole, and two types of cheese sauces (one fancy, one Velveeta; most guests opted for the latter).

THE FOOD: Twists on Traditional Theater Treats 

Cynthia considered standard movie munchies then did them one better. Her insanely delish spread included everything from a gourmet nacho bar to three types of popcorn to vodka-soaked gummy bears (it’s a party, after all!). Of course she also stocked up on the can’t-beat-em classics: Milk Duds and Junior Mints.

For beverages, Cynthia filled a galvanized tin tub with ice and a variety of old-school sodas. She also whipped up a big batch of chartreuse and cucumber margaritas, poured it into a self-serve beverage dispenser, and let people help themselves.

For beverages, Cynthia filled a galvanized tin tub with ice and a variety of old-school sodas. She also whipped up a big batch of chartreuse and cucumber margaritas, poured it into a self-serve beverage dispenser, and let people help themselves.

The classic candies were rounded out with gourmet chocolate-covered marshmallows, all served in vessels of different shapes, sizes, and materials to make the tablescape a bit of eye candy.

The classic candies were rounded out with gourmet chocolate-covered marshmallows, all served in vessels of different shapes, sizes, and materials to make the tablescape a bit of eye candy.

Any frequent hostess knows that you can’t go wrong with fresh flowers and big plates of fresh, seasonal fruit.

Any frequent hostess knows that you can’t go wrong with fresh flowers and big plates of fresh, seasonal fruit.

Guests’ comfort is always at the top of Cynthia’s mind, so when the sun starts to set, she lights citronella candles and has bug spray at the ready just in case.

Guests’ comfort is always at the top of Cynthia’s mind, so when the sun starts to set, she lights citronella candles and has bug spray at the ready just in case.

THE TIMING: Sunset Showtime

The bash started at 7pm (though many enthused guests arrived early), giving people time to catch up before the screening kicked off at sundown. After the credits rolled, the party picked back up as Cynthia cranked the music up and everyone swapped thoughts about the film, one of Cynthia’s favorite parts of the night.

She hauled out a mix of serapes, kilims, furs, and blankets that, when layered, created a rich boho mix.

She hauled out a mix of serapes, kilims, furs, and blankets that, when layered, created a rich boho mix.

I’ll set out big stacks of bedding, throws, and sheepskins to make sure people are as comfortable as possible.

— Cynthia Vincent
Cynthia’s go-to entertaining outfit? A kaftan or djellaba, which manage to be both comfortable and chic.

Cynthia’s go-to entertaining outfit? A kaftan or djellaba, which manage to be both comfortable and chic.

Cynthia always keeps a flashlight taped to her projector, so she doesn’t have any trouble starting the movie after the sun goes down.

Cynthia always keeps a flashlight taped to her projector, so she doesn’t have any trouble starting the movie after the sun goes down.

THE FILM: A Cult Classic

A die-hard movie buff, Cynthia chose the 1971 black comedy Harold and Maude for this crowd since many had never seen it. In the past she’s screened North by Northwest (one of her all-time faves) and My Fair Lady—both big hits. Up next? A kids-only showing of Bedknobs and Broomsticks as requested by her daughter.

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