As anyone will tell you, when you love what you do, success follows, and Kala Maxym clearly loves what she does. She was able to turn her passion for storytelling, music and wine into a unique and rewarding career. Yet, her story actually begins with the five senses. “Everyone always talks about engaging the five senses,” she said. “But we are largely visual creatures. When it comes to storytelling and the senses, sound is often an afterthought.” And so she set out to change that.
Kala Maxym of Five Senses Tastings
When Kala Maxym, a soprano who has performed on opera stages and concert halls around the world, began to perform at special events, she noticed that the music was often nonspecific or even distracting. “I began thinking of how to include it yet take it a step further,” she said. “Like a flight of wine, I wanted to take guests through a taste of jazz, blues, flamenco, rock, and more while telling their own, unique stories. And I wanted to do it with live musicians to further increase the sense of intimacy and community.”
To do that, Maxym started Five Senses Tastings while living in New York in 2012. Since moving to Los Angeles, she has found a supportive clientele who have included her music tastings at a variety of unique events. And no matter what the event, Maxym is able to find and then creatively weave a musical story that makes guests pause, reflect, and enjoy the moment using all of their senses both individually and together.
The Sixth Sense – Shopping
Take a recent event at the Diane von Furstenberg store at The Grove, a high-end shopping center in Beverly Hills. The store manager of the DVF boutique was looking to create a new way to launch the summer collection, “Palazzo.” Upon meeting Maxym she was intrigued by the notion of doing it with music. And to make it more of an event with a purpose, they made it a charity event. A portion of proceeds from sales that night would go to the Icla da Silva Foundation, the largest bone marrow recruitment center for the national BeTheMatch registry.
Wearing the dresses they interpreted through music,
from left to right, Cheryl Lin Fielding, Molly Miller, Kate Bass and Kala Maxym
Singer Kate Bass and Molly Miller performing La Vie en Rose, an ode to the dress worn by Bass
At the beginning of the event, invited guests, and even passersby, perused the new collection. At a given point, Maxym took the floor to talk about what inspired the stories the musicians were about to tell. A waiter passed out glasses of “Tintoretto” – an Italian drink that mixes Prosecco with pomegranate juice — and brought out three different food pairings.
In two sets, Maxym and her musicians performed six songs that “interpreted” the dresses. Singer Kate Bass, accompanied by pianist Cheryl Lin Fielding, and guitarist Molly Miller, began the performance began with “Three Coins in the Fountain.”
“This song takes us straight to the heart of the collection – Rome and Florence,” Maxym told the audience. “Taste the last line of the song, ‘Make it Mine,’ while you make this dress yours tonight!”
A jumpsuit from the collection was interpreted in music by a samba version of the jazz classic “Like Someone in Love,” followed by the Malena Tie Front Maxi Dress. The silky chiffon was “paired” with a bite of sweet, light meringue and an aria from Puccini’s La Rondine (The Swallow) sung by Maxym.
The next three songs were equally inventive in how they paired with tastes of food and the story of the dresses. The finale was Bass and Miller performing Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” which was paired to the pink Bali wrap dress worn by Bass. The story recalled von Furstenberg’s first stop in Paris as a fashion student, while a sip of Roscato Rose Dolce and taste of dark chocolate completed the sensorial scene for guests.
No story is too difficult, too big or too small for Maxym to reinterpret through music. For those at the DVF tasting, they savored taste, smell, vision, feel and sound through stories about the dresses for a totally memorable experience. Yet, happily for DVF and the Icla da Silva Foundation, no one forgot that most important sixth sense, shopping.
Photos: Sarah Lovrien