Tamara Beckwith

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About Tamara Beckwith…”…

I am a gallerist, columnist and occasional TV presenter as well as the mother of two gorgeous girls Anouska and Violet.

When I´m not dashing off to some fabulous location on a photoshoot, writing assignment or to attend a friend's event, I am busy juggling work at my photography gallery, The Little Black Gallery in Chelsea, with keeping my Italian husband Giorgio and our three-year-old daughter Violet happy and fed. Writing up the previous evening's adventures is not so easy if I break the cardinal rule of no drinking on a school night!

www.thelittleblackgallery.com

Dinner with the girls, the Butterfly Ball and Cartier’s Chelsea Flower Show dinner

It seems just yesterday I was still popping into bikinis and sandals and not much else from my Easter break. Back to London, a fast paced step forward and I have had a serious re-edit of my wardrobe.  I looked at my diary and to my horror I realized I had rather a few too many social girl/charity lunches to get dolled up for.  I love a girls’ lunch but day after day becomes a big effort, especially planning suitable looks!

First up was a girls’ dinner for which I had helped the super chic Italian fashion brand, Agnona, pull together.  The delectable Dree Hemingway, their muse and model, flew in from New York that morning and was so naturally beautiful with barely a hint of make-up, she stole all our hearts. Her silk black caped catsuit must have helped.  The evening was a huge success and The Dover Street Arts Club really spoilt us.

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Left to right: Me, Dree Hemingway & Alice Naylor-Leyland at the Agnona dinner

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Myself and Tamzin Greenhill at the Agnona dinner

The late photographer Bob Carlos Clarke was not only a friend of mine but also the reason Ghislain Pascal, Lindsey Carlos Clarke and myself set up our gallery, The Little Black Gallery, in 2008 after his untimely death.  We manage his archive, and collectors from all over the world come to us.  So any new show we open has to have a strict preview night.  The Daily Mail Online has already labelled our new show ‘Living Dolls’ as “one of London’s most risqué shows” – which can never be a bad thing!  Dan Macmillan was one of the first to arrive and was remarkably knowledgeable about Bob’s work – in particular a work entitled “Keeping up with the Joneses”, a photograph that paid homage to the British art legend Allen Jones. Allen himself actually swung by later on and I found him captivating company.

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Allen Jones and I at Bob Carlos Clarke Private View at The Little Black Gallery

Scarlett Carlos Clarke, Bob’s daughter, is very hands on with her Father’s work and had insisted on one of the pictures being taken down.  Sure enough she arrived and headed straight downstairs to check… followed closely by her childhood friend Luciano Pierre White, son of Bob’s best buddy and chef extraordinaire, Marco.

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Luciano Pierre White & Scarlett Carlos Clarke at Bob Carlos Clarke Private View at The Little Black Gallery

Society chappy Henry Conway flew in with a very cute companion and was as ever fizzing with enthusiasm.  My favourite florist Rob Van Helden came with his husband Seb and we gassed and gassed until I realized it was time to shut up shop!

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Myself & Henry Conway at Bob Carlos Clarke Private View at The Little Black Gallery

Up and another outfit to be sourced. I had been invited to join Kiwi Amanda Newson’s table, as Co-Chair of the Foreign Sisters, for their annual lunch.  It’s a fabulous charity set up by foreign women in London about eight years ago in aid of Cancer Research UK.  400 women, each better dressed than the next, there was nothing un-fashion about this crew!  Held at the Philipp’s Gallery in Victoria I walked in and could not get over the extraordinary noise.  400 women chatting is almost deafening.  It all calmed down once we sat down at what I must admit to being one of the most pretty tables ever.

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Foreign Sisters lunch sponsored by Dior

Needless to say the lunch was sponsored by Dior and they had created the entire look.  We all secretly wanted to steal not only our embroidered Lily of the Valley napkins but also the matching tablecloths.  Amanda warned us she would do a count at the end!  Tania Bryer missed her first speaking slot due to her plane from Texas being late, but the trooper she is had her flying through the tables before our main course and certainly making us understand why we needed to dig deep.  She is a total star!  They raised a massive amount of money and we were sent home in time for the school run…

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Tania Bryer and Amanda Newson at Foreign Sisters lunch sponsored by Dior

As if I hadn’t done my bit already on the charity front, Giorgio and I were expected at the Caudwell’s Butterfly Ball that night.  These things are never planned to be so hectic but sometimes I should learn to say ‘No’. I had been sent a gorgeous Roland Mouret evening dress and felt a bit fresher once I had some make-up on.

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Left to right: Giorgio, myself, Patrick Cox & David Furnish at Caudwell’s Butterfly Ball

The Caudwells had invited so many familiar faces that you start to think you know everyone, then you realize it’s Gemma from ‘The Only Way is Essex’ and I’ve been staring at her for ten minutes!  I was at a table with X Factor winner Sam Bailey and her husband.  I was trying to keep Giorgio on best behavior but he couldn’t help himself grilling her on all sorts of X Factor questions.  David Furnish looked amazing and was in super-good form, while sexy cobbler Patrick Cox was as usual up to no good with the boys from the Scissor Sisters.  Everyone was thrilled that James and Petra Stunt were in the house as they literally hogged the auction.  Tamara Eccelstone looking the best I have ever seen her, with husband Jay, were in happy baby mode and snuck off in time to feed their precious baby, Sophia.  I found my girlfriend Lilly Becker, but no Boris as he was busy coaching Djokovic in Rome.

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Left to right: Myself, Patrick Cox, Claire Caudwell & Giorgio at Butterfly Ball

Claire Caudwell was as always a doll, in the teensiest Ralph & Russo beaded cocktail dress ever.  She is always super friendly and has time for everyone.  The Candys, Holly and Nick, were on a rare night out since their baby arrived.  Holly has become mother nature. Peter Andre bless him did a stellar job as compere but most of the room were just desperate to get on with dancing and cheering Kylie.  And what a star she was ..not for her the four songs normally trotted out on these nights.. more like a mini concert.  Everyone went home more in love with the teeny awesome Aussie than ever.

A quiet weekend and ready for one of my favourite parties of the Summer season – Cartier’s Chelsea Flower Show dinner.  This year Arnaud Bamberger had taken over the legendary Hurlingham Club and as the very charmed man that he is the British weather was perfect.  We all had cocktails out on the terrace, admiring the perfect green lawns.  Watching members amble by all in white off to play a spot of late night tennis. All very charming, all very English…

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Cartier Dinner at Hurlingham

Giorgio was unamused to have been dragged out again, let alone on a sacred Monday night – the air was blue in our car! I had popped on a Lanvin dress and a whopping diamond flower ring by the incredible Eliane Fattal for SJ Phillips.  My ring was so admired I kept checking it was still firmly on.  Tim and Malin Jefferies came over as we chatted to our mutual friends Mark and Katie Cecil. We had all had Bank Holiday weekend together and were laughing at some of the antics.  English rose, Rosamund Pike was milling around looking rather pretty and dashing Ali Spencer Churchill was in his derigeur uniform of a skinny blue suit.

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Malin Jefferies, Amanda Wakeley, myself, Heather Kerzner & Jo Manoukian at the Cartier Dinner at Hurlingham

Everyone was in jubilant form and stylist Martha Ward looked by far one of my favourites in pale pink Ermano Scervino.. faultless. Giorgio was very happy at his placement with Jo Manoukian and Heather Kerzner and the naughty Tim Jefferies… I on the other hand was equally happy with the suave Martin Summer’s and Viscount Daventry!  Talk about delicious food, fabulous flowers, wonderful wine and stupendous company. A night well worth the effort even for a Monday!

Holidaying in Miami, a trip to Mustique and an appearance from Jude Law

Desperate for some heat for my bones, I packed my little family up and headed for Miami.  Easter in Miami has become a bit of an annual trip.  We were invited to stay at one of Giorgio’s great friends and they have children Vivi’s age.  A huge plus as she literally followed them around like a little duck, playing basketball, soccer and learning to boogie board!  I found the Miami Beach heat all a bit overwhelming at first, but not my Italian husband.  He was a dark shade of tan within hours.  We also had some of our great friends staying at the Setai, the Ruskis, so we found ourselves being whisked off for a dinner at Zuma in downtown Miami.  Another great girlfriend Jenny Halpern was also in Miami with her girls  (Vivi’s little playmates) and so she joined us too.  We spent most of the time marveling at the plastic surgery so prevalent in the USA, but also at some of the odd couplings.  It was definitely an eye opener.

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Jenny Halpern, Katya Fomichev, TB, Ruslan Fomichev, Sara Colombo at Zuma Miami

Another of Vivi’s girlfriends was in Miami, Lola Sofia, and they were desperate to get together.  They are quite a handful together so we chose the Big Pink (a Miami landmark) for their reunion.  It is a classic American style Diner and the portions should be illegal.  My lunch arrived and I was hungry but I barely touched the sides!  The waste is beyond wrong.  The girls were in heaven however with cheeseburgers, fries – the whole works!  Not one of our healthy days.

I decided that since I was surrounded by little girls desperate to be ‘Elsa’ in ‘Frozen’ I would drive us to Aventurra Mall and see if I could find the treasured costumes at the Disney store. On arrival in the store I found a helpful looking assistant.  When I asked where these costumes were he practically burst out laughing. He assured me the whole set of ‘Frozen’ dresses, shoes, crowns etc had been sold out for weeks and in fact across the whole of America.  That was me put in my place…  I bought the soundtrack and much to my horror we listened to it on repeat for the next 3 weeks!

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Katya Fomichev, myself and Barbara Becker in Miami

That night was adult time – Miky Grendene the owner of the coolest restaurant in Miami Beach, Casa Tua (with a twin restaurant in Aspen), was having a birthday party.  We invited the Ruskis along and having mentioned to Katya Fomichev it might be smart to dress down due to the location of the party, she announced she prefers a dress!  We headed off into what was previously off territory, although the Winwood area is considered uber cool and very up and coming. Just as we were about to give up we saw what looked like a make-shift valet.. walking through the door into what appeared to be a shabby warehouse was in fact an off the wall “Man Cave”.  The shy host, an Ecuadorian Rock star no less, had his Ferraris, Lamborghinis and a huge array of motorbikes all gleaming in a row.  There was an indoor pool, a bedroom and bath with a chandelier hanging sexily overhead.  All in all, wow! Rows of guitars framed the stage and then down the middle of the vast room was a dining table littered with red rose petals and candles. Breathtaking and of course the crew were all beautiful. I found our friend Karolina Kurkova and her super husband Archie.  It turned out Archie was sharing the party with Miky – it’s such a small world. I was slightly underdressed compared to the Miami dress code but Katya was in heaven in her little cocktail dress and towering heels!  We had a sumptuous supper prepared by Casa Tua and suddenly across the candles I was smiling at Barbara Becker.  She is the most fun and an absolute character.  She flew over and pulled up a chair and we caught up and giggled for hours.  In head to toe leather was super star Lenny Kravitz and although he had come along with Barbara I didn’t want to dare hope he would get up and sing!  Sadly that was not to happen but after some serious ‘Happy Birthday’ singing to the boys and some even more sexy dancing – I noticed a lot of good salsa movers- I felt it was time to head home.

The next morning we re-packed (not a single high heel required) and headed for St.Lucia where we caught another little itty propeller plane to the magical island of Mustique.  This is the only place that both Giorgio and I agree we would be happily deserted.  It’s certainly not for everyone, as Tim Jefferies says “It’s Marmite”, but for us we have found a little teeny slice of family time heaven.

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Easter in Mustique  ©Tamara Beckwith

From the moment we left the charming airport, to Vivi’s first tortoise finding, we started to relax.  The house we were staying at was breathtaking French/Colonial and our co-host Tim Attias and his son Duarte (aka Peter Parker!!) were as thrilled as we were to head off Island scouring on the little electric buggy mules.

Life on Mustique is very laid back and happily very early starts.  I am lucky to have a sporty child and so Vivi is more than keen to get stuck into Tennis camp and riding.  Giorgio disappears for huge chunks of time to play tennis or beat himself up in the beach volley ball.  That leaves me with plenty of time to go mad and read a book… What a forgotten treat!

The Colombos, our great friends from Miami, had finally given in to our relentless pressure and followed us to the island.  So it was off to the airport to greet them.  Vivi was so thrilled and spent the whole holiday asking what time we were seeing them.  Tim Jefferies who was also there with his beautiful wife Malin and kiddies is always a ridiculously generous host.  So it was with zero hesitation we went for dinner at his.  As always every detail was perfection personified.  The chef in his house has been trained to Michelin star levels and as we laughed at the caviar crown perched on top of fresh ceviche I assured my own guests this was not the normal food to be expected…

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Malin and Tim Jefferies  ©Tamara Beckwith 

The next day we headed to Macaroni beach where Vivi and I had our first experience of a true wipeout!  Not a good look but actually quite scary. Vivi certainly wasn’t keen for Mummy to jump the waves with her again.

A huge picnic was being thrown by some fun Spanish friends and we agreed what bliss it was to be on the island as we tucked into a heavenly pile of BBQ ribs.

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En Famille in Mustique  ©Tamara Beckwith 

 

My birthday was not to be celebrated, I instructed Giorgio. I felt just lucky to be there and that was enough.  Of course he didn’t listen and a beautiful dinner was arranged behind my back. Sitting in the garden with a wonderful, eclectic mix of friends and their friends is a great change from London.  I had the gregarious and utterly charming Manfredi Gheradesca on my left and was reminded why Italian men (whilst having many faults!) are such fabulous company.

Vivi, bless her, managed to stay up until 11.30pm to bring in my Birthday cake.  She was determined to make it and I was so touched.  She had even found the silly “not actually blow-outable” candles which gave her the giggles…

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Vivi on the beach  ©Tamara Beckwith 

 

As Mustique is reknowned for its much guarded privacy I am having to pick and choose what I share with you but suffice to say when word spread that Jude Law had arrived on the island, activity trebled.  We let our nannies go to the famous Basil’s Bar for a night off and I guessed correctly they were on a Jude Law hunt!!!

Anouska’s birthday, Poppy Delevingne and catching up with Princess Beatrice

Back on the early morning Eurostar after a spectacular result for my younger daughter’s school quiz night – in excess of £300,000 being raised for The Whitley Nature Foundation and the Royal Chelsea Pensioners.  Not bad at all after six months’ gruelling committee work!tamara-2

My eldest daughter Anouska’s birthday loomed and I had promised we would be together in Paris, where she lives.  It happily coincided with my super Russian girlfriend Katya’s birthday and she had decided we would have a small dinner at the infamous Kaviar Kaspar.  Eating caviar and drinking chilled champagne with Russians seems to make the experience that much more exquisite.  I now stay at the Hotel Pavillion de la Reine as it’s bang next door to Anouska’s apartment.  I don’t feel weird staying there alone either if Giorgio is away working.  I have begun to feel more at home when now in Paris and cannot get enough of walking everywhere.  It all seems so blissful and romantic and there is just so much to take in, I almost always need a nap before dinner.  It must be a general beauty overload.tamara-3

Warmed croissants and French baguettes are hardly my super greens but who can resist? Next we headed for the Pompido Center and a rather ungainly queue for the Henri Cartier Bresson exhibition.  Once inside it was beautifully presented and to say it was crowded would be an understatement.  I found some of my favorite images and realised why he is on such a pedestal.  I left my beautiful girl for her romantic lunch with her equally beautiful beau, Maxime, but not until we had bought, tried and tested her birthday gift – a practical, comfortable sofa!  How I got such a sensible child is way too difficult to fathom…

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Back to London and a belated dinner to re-celebrate with Patrick Cox for his birthday at the by now almost too popular, The Firehouse.  Crammed in would be too polite a way to explain the crush in the restaurant. Luckily I know the boys one needs to know and we were discreetly escorted to the magnificent residents’ lounge.  I won’t bore you about how heavenly it is but suffice to say my business partner, Ghislain Pascal and one of our prestigious photographers, Tyler Udall, popped in for a quick aperitif with us and were absolutely blown away.  It helped that our nutty pretend bartender had the gift of the gab and looked after us all until our table was ready.  Once at the table it was worse than a school reunion as my husband Giorgio found so many friends!!  New daddy, Nick Candy, almost decided to abandon his straight business dinner for us.  Dino Lalvani, possibly one of the naughtiest bachelors ever, arrived and we knew that was trouble.  When Italian Eduardo Teodorani, part of the Agnelli/Fiat dynasty, came by for kisses it was apparent the naughties far outweighed the goodies. For coolness factor Jefferson Hack was having a business supper with The Elizabeth Saltzman; if ever there was an unofficial stamp of a place’s coolness it is bestowed by Elizabeth’s presence.  Much, much later I stumbled across ex-model and now uber nutritionist, Rosemary Ferguson, and her crew including her artist husband Jake Chapman.  I’m not sure if she invited me to sit down and chat or if I just did anyway but either way, she was far too well mannered to ask me to leave!tamara-6

If you ever receive an invitation from a girl called Rena Sindi, you know you’ll be in for a treat.  She was the queen of themed parties in New York and although not hosting quite so regularly now, she still knows how to create a setting.  One of her great friends is the legendary furrier, Dennis Basso, and since she had missed his 60th in Mexico she decided to recreate his party here for all of us Brits.  The Mexican theme translated well in her newly spruiced home and the real live Marriachi band that got us going throughout dinner was spectacular. Tequila shots, so not my bag, were flying off the waiters’ trays and I was stupid enough to try one of the many bowls of candies she always decorates the tables with.  Jeez, it was only a chilli Haribo… next a peppery jelly bean. I had to laugh at her dedication to a theme.  Dennis made a sweet speech and Glenn Spiro (one of the jewelers to go to with a big budget) made some naughty replies.  Caroline Stanbury was on quiet mode which always scares me far more than her normal full throttle. Thanks to my newly installed Uber car service I snuck off once Lisa Tchenguiz and Rena hit the dining table…tamara-5

I am a glutton for punishment but I had secretly been saving myself for the launch of Anouska and my dear friend Alice Naylor-Leyland’s website launch, MrsAliceinherpalace.com (“High street buys with runway style”).  Held in the heavenly spring bloosomed tea rooms of Fortnum & Mason it was a sight for sore eyes. Alice looked serene in her cream lace Alessandra Rich fitted number whilst her fabulous mother, Serena Freeson, scooted around being friendly.  Lady Mary Charteris was on the decks with her rock star husband Robbie on hand.  Alice’s bestie, Poppy Delevigne, fresh off the plane from LA and in wedding preparation mode, looked really great with a tan and modern red lips.  Josephine de la Baume was adding her particular brand of Parisienne boho chic to the affair and Otis Ferry and Edie Campbell just looked cool!  Alice must have felt like the cat who had the cream when Laura Bailey cruised by in achingly cool, pastel blue Chanel…  We finally headed off for an even more cool and small dinner at Annabel’s. The flowers were simple but so pretty and our individual marshmallow selfies by James Middleton were a hilarious touch.  I was happy to have a catch up with Princess Beatrice although the acoustics are not really ideal for long involved chats! I left the groovy gang to it, clutching my treasured bag of Jo Malone goodies.tamara-1

A trip down memory lane, a restaurant opening and the WOW festival

Back in springy London with a bump and I was straight into my Gallery to take a look at the hanging of our new Vee Speer’s show.  She is terrifically talented and a huge character to boot.  Her new show Bordello is extremely provocative – my business partner Ghislain Pascal and Tim Blake of John Jones Framing have done a genius job with the framing.

Very 1920’s with prohibition, masks and voluptuous real women.  The opening was a little like a crazy cocktail party, however Ghislain was happily preoccupied with his invoice pad.  I was delighted to see an old friend from L.A., the actor Michael Wincott.  His voice is legendary and he seemed equally stunned to see me in my Gallery.  We had a wonderful reminisce down memory lane.  Lots of Vee’s collectors had come from afar to see the show and we felt it kicked off to great expectations.

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Director Mike Figgis, interior designer Sera Hersham, actor Michael Wincott & I at the Vee Speers: Bordello opening at The Little Black Gallery © Gabriel Lovas

 The following evening I was taken by another L.A. friend Adam Bernhard with his fiancé for dinner. Giorgio still being away, I invited my great and dear friend Wagi to escort me. Adam always calls me and says, “What’s up and what’s new?” – I then have to scramble to arrange a table out of thin air. Uber hotelier Andre Balazs’ new London hotel, ‘The Firehouse’ in Chiltern Street had literally opened for preview business and I decided that since we all had spent endless, fun evenings at his Chateau Marmont in LA back in the 90’s, that it would be fun to compare.

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Chiltern Firehouse © Nicholas Kay

 Just entering the privately gated courtyard garden you could tell Andre had reworked his legendary magic.  He seems to be able to click his fingers and great ambience, cool, on-it staff (some quite familiar from London Café Society) all magically appear.  Their Front of House man (sadly I selfishly won’t reveal his name) came to my rescue as the restaurant bar was a serious crush. He whisked Wagi and I through into what will be the Residence’s bar.  Dreamily decorated in his recognisable style with a seriously welcoming 50s-esque marble bar in a pretty champagne colour.  Dangerously low and complete with comfortable perching sipping cocktails kind of stools.  If Frank Sinatra had mooched by I would not have been surprised.  Wagi and I felt compelled to try a bespoke martini.

The dining room is very much a working one, with a very open kitchen. Necks were craning albeit nonchalantly. Stephen Fry was doing quite a bit of greeting and the infamous Guy Ritchie was playing his part to a tee.  PR supremo Matthew Freud was dining a-deux with Heston Blumenthal.  I was just happy to see my friends the Bertarellis who were in town just for Kirsty’s birthday.  The evening was a great success; Adam, Wagi and I all ate well, drank very well and managed to take the group decision that staying for a nightcap was a BAD if not dangerous idea.

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 Anouska Beckwith & Lulu Barsotti at WOW Festival

Up bright and breezy, (not a single headache all week!) and I was off with Violet and a girlfriend Annabel to visit my elder daughter, Anouska’s Stand at the WOW festival at the South Bank Centre.  She has created a beautiful Collective of Women artists called World Wide Women and has been inundated with creative women who want to be part of something so special, their aim being to set up shows all over the World to help promote Women in the Arts.  The WOW Festival is highly regarded and she was very touched to have been included.  Her friend and fellow artist Michaela Meadow were there for three days and had numerous inquiries and felt they were definitely onto something good.  I, as a proud Mother, felt pure happiness for her as she got about the business of selling her photography and fielding questions.

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Michaela Meadows & Anouska Beckwith of World Wide Women at WOW Festival

Thrilled to get a late night phone call from one of my oldest fellow Ariens, celebrity interiors guru Martyn Lawrence Bullard. He is incredibly over the top but has fabulous taste and I adore him.  He loves and breathes L.A. since that is where he has his successful business and sometimes pops over here to make award winning TV makeover shows for Channel 4!  He was here for Design Week at Chelsea Harbour and suddenly realised he had a spare dinner slot! I of course rallied and brought a mutual girlfriend of ours, PR Queen Amanda Kyme.  A clandestine rendezvous at the scrumptious Eight Over Eight was hurriedly arranged and it was a joy from beginning to end.  Martyn always had fabulously wicked stories to share of his diva clients, of which I sadly cannot share.  The lychee/rose martinis are one of the restaurants specialities and I have to sadly remember just one is plenty for me these days!

image5Grainne Stevenson, Amanda Kyme, Martyn Lawrence Bullard & I at Eight Over Eight

Afterwards a quiet weekend beckoned…

Dinner with Giorgio, a new friend and Fashion Week

I may be biased but Italians seem to love everything more passionately than any other nation.  Fashion and food obviously being their big ones.  Being invited to see Milan Fashion Week in action was an invite I just couldn’t resist.  PR supremo Warly Tomei, a Brazilian with a heart of gold, enticed me with Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana’s shows, both of which I knew would be off-the-chart wonderful.

 

Arriving at the Baglioni Hotel and having left Vivi with her beloved grandparents in the countryside, Giorgio and I dared to be different and slipped into a heavenly courtyard bistro called Bacaro del Sambuco on Via Montenapoleone.  Discreet and intimate I felt it was perfect for a clandestine rendezvous!  Everything on the menu was light but more importantly, delicious.  I left Giorgio to head to the Cavalli HQ for a fitting.  I was beyond thrilled and relieved, I admit, that I could get into the dresses (well, a teeny bit snug!) pulled for me by their stylist Gregoire.  I also found a new friend, the stunning society blonde with Cara D eyebrows, Ginevra Rossini, 22 years old and with the manners of a true young lady.

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With Gregoire for Cavalli fitting

Back to the hotel to have a quick soak and then off to the Hotel Principe de Savoia for an early supper with Giancarlo Giammetti and Valentino and their crew.  Giancarlo is still on his world domination tour for his book “Private”, and the Editor of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani, was hosting him a cocktail party that night for all the great and gorgeous of MFW.

 

Valentino’s dinner was hilariously short and light with the beautiful Charlene Shorto, Afef Jnifen, Naty Abascal, Georgina Brandolini, and a little late, Bianca Brandolini (in runway Dolce & Gabbana spots).  All the rest of us in Valentino, of course.

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Naty Abascal, me, Giorgio & Valentino 

We headed to the party heavily cordoned off with the largest security where Franca greeted Giancarlo like a star.  Anna Wintour arrived and I was a tiny bit in awe.  However my divine friend Gianluca Longo (fabulous stylist) encouraged me to take a photo. She was, contrary to the old wives’ tales, friendly and gracious, and my photo of her with Giancarlo was one of my favourites.  In one booth the new dandy (after Vogue’s Hamish Bowles crown) Derek Blasberg, was courting the beautiful Joan Smalls, Tabitha Simmons and Georgia May Jagger.  The most down to earth girl, make-up queen Pat McGrath, arrived in her usual head to toe black, and I have to confess to stealing her to sit with me and Marpessa Hennik (ex supermodel and Dolce & Gabbana muse).  There were so many important fashion players that I got a bit lost in a sea of Prosecco on ice.  My favourite had to be Anna del Russo, who was wearing a frivolous Hiawathaesque feather headband. Only a true fashionista would dare!

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Giancarlo Giammetti with Anna Wintour at the launch party for his book ‘Private’

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Giancarlo with Anna del Russo

 

The Cavalli day arrived and they were so worried about us Cavalli “Angels” looking less than perfect that we were collected and dropped at the legendary Aldo Coppola for hair and make-up. Of course, it ran late and Ginevra and I had to race back to the Principe to get ready at break-neck speed.

 

Arriving at the Arco della Pace was madness the like I have never seen; people everywhere posing in outrageous outfits, bloggers in creations that beggared belief and fashion students swarming the guests holding on to precious tickets!  Once inside I caught my breath – a circle of fire literally around a pool of water.  The enormous circus style tent was full to bursting but I was more excited to see the 90’s supermodel Nadège, looking fresh and head to toe in Cavalli leather.  Cavalli had a heavily Brit front row including Cheryl Cole, Ellie Goulding and the actress Samantha Barks.  The show itself was breath-taking with reed-thin models with endless legs stomping past us in wafts of leather and body skimming beaded fringed frocks.  I fell in love with more than one red satin evening dress.

 

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 Me in Milan, wearing Cavalli

That evening we were delivered in another evening dress to their new flagship boutique on Via Montenapoleone.  Five floors of Cavalli creations, children’s wear, sportswear – you name it, there is a floor for it!

 

My friend Magda Pozzo and I decided to head to the dinner early and got caught by Roberto at the door. His marvellous bejewelled walking stick was obviously a talking point.  The dinner was at one of Milan’s most desirable hotspots, Il Salumaio.  A very beautiful old Milanese stone walled dining room with luscious full roses in simple vases.  Russian model Irina Shayk one of the Cavalli’s favourites was there and both sons, Daniele and Robert, hosted tables.  His wife Eva was an excellent hostess in her de rigeur black evening trouser suit.  A beautiful Italian feast followed and even better I was home by midnight.

 

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 Magda Pozzo, myself, & Roberto Cavalli

The following morning I had to pack which was no mean feat as I had gone a little bonkers in the shoe department. Gianvito Rossi being a firm new favourite … oh and some gold lame Dolce & Gabbana slingbacks – irresistible.

 

Warly collected me and my luggage as we hit first a Franca Sozzani Brunch for a new designer called Erika Cavallini in the most spectacular building called the Circolo della Stampa.  Magical and truly only in Italy.  Mini smoked salmon bagels were consumed in vast quantities.

 

Next we did a drive by the Hogan fashion show – there they had the genius idea of having all the models standing as if window mannequins and then doing semi walks, finishing with a mini fashion shoot.  All very intriguing.

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Hogan models

 

Lastly, we finally got into Warly’s car to go to the Dolce & Gabbana show which I was thoroughly over excited about.  Their clothes have become something of a staple in my wardrobe and their heavy Sicilian influence is sexy and feminine.

 

If I thought it was bonkers elsewhere, this was a zoo.  Everywhere you looked there were fabulously dressed girls and boys in creations each crazier than the next. I was, of course, stupidly impressed. The show waited for the actress Monica Belluci to arrive, as she is one of the design duo’s muses and then the music began.  Words failed me as “Once upon a Time in Sicily” started. The set was a fantasy forest. The girls were all medieval fairytale characters with Little Red Riding featuring heavily. My jaw seriously hit the floor!

 

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 Dolce & Gabbana Show

Model after model came out with the loud classical ballet themed music creating the scene.  Reds and purples and deep greens all bejewelled to death.  The finale was literally an army of silver and black girls storming the runway… staggering.  Show over we flew backstage, kissed Stefano Gabbana and found Marpessa and David Gandy. Eva Herzigova (in this season’s campaign) was there with Bianca Balti – too much beauty in one room. I was in heaven but had a train to catch.  In a flurry of heels and Dolce lace I just made it to the train in time for my journey back to the real world.

 

 

Throwing birthday parties and heading to a book signing

Throwing birthday parties are my Achilles’ heel.  Not necessarily mine either. Even when my oldest daughter Anouska was young I always had to go the extra mile..  A Grease theme party when she was nine or her favourite, a cowboy party held in Wimbledon, complete with hay bales and real line dancing.  So my youngest Vivi may have only just turned five but, try as I might, it eludes me to keep it simple and homemade!

 

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I scoured the web for white furniture for children and came up with Birthday Dreams and a great site called Carousel, with lots of gorgeous, pretty things and genius pressies.  The Church Hall at the Brompton Oratory was transformed into a mini girls’ disco courtesy of The Giggle Company and all the little girls +  three token boys had a ball.  Bubbles, balloons and dancing galore for many little Princesses.

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Vivi enjoying party games ©Tamara Beckwith 

Following a celebratory theme, it was with great enthusiasm I headed out into the foul London night with my young friend Alice Naylor Leyand (technically she’s Anouska’s girlfriend but I am allowed to borrow her) for the infamous Lapo Elkann’s book signing of “The Italian” by Wayne Maser, which features photos of Lapo. It was taking place alongside an exhibition of self-portraits by New York socialite Anh Duong.

 

Lapo is a real character and one of my husband’s old friends.  Stylish doesn’t even begin to describe him and neither does naughty!  Robilant & Voena, the Mayfair gallery, was rammed to the rafters and I was only able to see the entrance by looking at a perfectly pedicured foot owned by none other than Elizabeth Saltzman.  A girl of many trades, she’s contributing editor at Vanity Fair and personal stylist to Gwyneth Paltrow, to name a couple.  She was just leaving with the dashing hotel supremo Andre Balzas and model Lily Cole.  We managed to squeeze in and grab copies of both Lapo’s book and Anh’s catalogue.

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 Lapo signing his book for me

Lapo greeted me wondering protectively where Giorgio was. He signed my copy with a wonderful flourish and we then headed towards the crush at the bar, where I found our good friends Eva Herzigova and her husband Gregorio Marsiaj. As it was still tipping down outside, I cheekily asked if we could jump into their car to head to the private dinner being thrown at Downtown Cipriani.  Charles Finch, the urbane agent and PR mogul, was hosting it in honour of Lapo and Anh with Hollywood actor Matthew Modine thrown in for good measure.

I was honoured to be seated at Lapo’s table with Eva and Gregorio and the wonderful Nick Mason (drummer of Pink Floyd) and his wife Nettie.  I lost Alice as she was whisked to another table.  Marpessa  Hennink, one of the original supermodels and now head muse for Dolce and Gabbana was there and I just have to see her twinkly eyes to know I need to head home early!

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 Lapo at Downtown Cipriani

Italians are a breed unto themselves. My husband Giorgio loves his birthday and this year was to be no exception.  A week before the big day arrived he wants to know what I had planned…a big nothing!  So within minutes he had drawn up a guestlist and spoken to the PR girl of the coolest new lounge and private members’ club, Rififi in Mayfair.  Remarkably, many of our fun friends were in town and able to make it.

Some beautiful flowers – dark red roses dipped in glitter – from Nikki Tibbles at Wild at Heart, gave the tables a splash of Valentine’s Day glamour.  Rose Martinis on arrival and a wonderful jazzy pianist called Jonathan created a lovely intimate feeling.  Emily Oppenheimer was one of the first to arrive and almost matched me in a white lace dress. Tim and Malin Jefferies arrived and Malin’s skintight leather number left little to the imagination!  Eva and Gregorio arrived full of beans and Patrick Cox was fast to pop her on his knee.

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 Left to right: My sister Clare, Gregorio Marsiaj, myself, Patrick Cox

 

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 Left to right: Tim Attias, Tim Jefferies, Arki Busson, Giorgio Veroni

The night was full of laughter and sweet speeches.  Italians were heavily represented with our divine Giancarlo Giammetti fresh off the plane.  I finally brought out a heart covered cake which was demolished in a blink.  A few late guests popped by, including Uma Thurman and Arki Busson, and gave Giorgio more birthday kisses. All in all, a wonderful Happy “last minute” Birthday celebration for a very good boy!

Partying with a Made In Chelsea star, a photography legend and an influential make-up artist

It’s incredible but every single time we have a Terry O’Neill show at The Little Black Gallery it goes through the roof. Both in terms of sales but also footfall. People travel miles and miles to trek to Chelsea to view his iconic images. This show has been no different and even our private view, which was not aided by torrential showers, seemed to hardly suffer. Terry is a dear friend and couldn’t be more down-to-earth or normal. He finds all the press attention and fawning a bit odd.

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Above: with Tania Bryer and Terry

The Youngs were out in force, Paul and Stacey with their gorgeous daughters, Levi and Layla, and with them an entourage of Michelle Collins and Paul McKenna.
Mark Vandelli popped his perfectly coiffed head in and couldn’t decide which print he liked.

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Above: With Made in Chelsea’s Mark Vandelli

Similarly Melissa Odabash arrived with her girl posse of Kelly Hoppen and her daughter Natasha Corrett. The large Bridget Bardot was definitely a talking point. Just as we were closing the seriously glamorous Von Bismarcks, Debi and Leopard dropped by. Both great friends of Terry and rather sad to have missed him. However, they made sure not to leave empty-handed.

January seems to be action-packed with lots of catch-up meetings. Our women’s cancer charity campaign to raise awareness for all gynaecological cancers, has been gaining momentum. I’m helping to get it underway with a group of like-minded friends, including my sister Clare Van Dam, Astrid Harbord, Mika Simmons, Jenny Halpern Prince and Kate Percival.

Still underwraps titlewise it has suddenly got some legs! It helps that my divine PR friend Jenny Halpern Prince is a serious time manager.
One of my favourite new PR couplings is Jeanette Caliva and Heather Kerzner.

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Above: With my friend Heather Kerzner

They threw an evening viewing for maternity fashion label Madderson – again the weather was beyond revolting but we all managed to get there and the flowers alone were worth the effort. The two Madderson girls, Helen and Sara, were charming and thrilled to meet everyone. Their collection is very Palm Beach and made us all dream of spring. Martha Ward was her usual stylish self, and Heather and I quietly slipped off to our great friend interiors whizz Tara Bernerd’s small birthday dinner at Harry’s bar.

More meetings where I fear I have over promised my contributions! When will I learn to say ‘No’ to being helpful! Finally the end of the week arrived and with much excitement I got my glad rags on, including some serious Saqqara diamond chandelier earrings and a black leather Ralph Lauren evening dress. It was Claire Caudwell’s birthday and although she is a rather new friend we share many others.

Rob Van Helden had surpassed himself with fuschia pink orchids; literally the tables were heaving with them. Claire and her husband John had really gone mad. She looked every inch a Marilyn Monroe movie star in white crystal Ralph & Russo with a marabou tail! Fabulous.

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Above: my husband Giorgio, Claire Caudwell and Pat McGrath.

Giorgio and I were very happy to be sitting with so many old friends. Tania Bryer, the happiest girl in the world now she has found boyfriend Rod Barker. Make-up legend Pat McGrath, always a fun dinner companion, and the Fennells, Louise and Theo. I could talk to Louise forever and am an avid reader of her novels. Rob Van Helden had pride of place as we ruffled his ego about his genius flowers!

The evening was jam packed with personal touches and entertainment but when Mick Hucknall came out and sang the whole ballroom went crazy. Claire, needless to say, was up on that stage and loving every minute!

Valentino, Madonna and Andrea Casiraghi

Where to start with the most wonderful but of course slightly bonkers Christmas and New Year I think I have ever endured!  Crazily Christmas now appears to start in November.  Knowing my family and I were off to Europe for Christmas, I wanted to be as well prepared as possible.  This meant present choosing and shopping were high on my agenda.  Also I was well aware I was in charge of cooking three entire Christmas suppers during the two-week festive period, and my husband was still  flying around the world for his work on Formula Electric.

I couldn’t resist an invitation to accept and attend a Christmas bash thrown by my great friend Jenny Halpern and her delicious husband Ryan Prince.  My daughter Anouska and her French beau Maxime had come over for a pre-Christmas weekend and so I thought I was pretty safe.  A heavenly red lacy Dolce & Gabanna seemed to do the trick and we headed off.  The Princes really go all out for their parties and this was no exception.  The list of friendly faces old and new was far too long to mention or now remember but upon finding one of my “starcrushes”, Pat McGrath, the legendary make-up wizardress, I was just happy to listen to her funny outtakes having just been with her in New York.

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On the other side of the room I found another top make-up Queen, Charlotte Tilbury, with her new beau George Waud.  They make a truly great eccentric couple and were in festive mode. Fashionista Natalie Massenet popped in as did Sir Stuart Rose and Jenny was being a perfect hostess. With E&O feeding us tasty morsels it was all going well.  My huge downfall was straying off my usual tipple of champagne on ice – instead I got a bit gung-ho on the cocktails.  Mistake 1.  Anouska and Maxim were having a great time mingling with all my old muckers but at midnight decided to go home. Mistake 2 not going with them!  By that stage I was thoroughly over excited, over peaked and in need of assistance, but of course ranting with my girlfriends made it all worth the crashing headache the following day!  Will I ever learn…

My last Christmas obligation was to read at my cousin Nicola Bearman’s, beautifully organized Christmas Carol Service in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital and their Face Value campaign to help fund new craniofacial surgery.  I was in great company at Christ Church, Victoria Road, but a bit daunted by my fellow speakers Sienna Miller, Anne Robinson, Bear Grylls and Spencer Matthews who all read beautifully, and Bear Grylls impresively wrote his reading himself.  I was honoured to have been a small part in helping raise £18,000 for the best children’s hospital in the world.

With London done we flew to Italy for Turkey No2.  My parents-in-law had been so amazing – three Christmas trees decorated to the hilt!  Even a pop-up leopard skin beauty salon for Vivi!  They are the kindest and sweetest people on earth and Violet is their treasured, slightly spoilt only grandchild. There were little children going mad on chocolate-smeared pannetone, presents being opened which I personally can’t bear unless it’s the 25th !  I was thrilled and relieved to get up at the crack of dawn the next day to set off for the snow topped mountains of Switzerland.

Gstaad is a picture perfect mountain village and our chalet for the holiday was cosy, slightly Ralph Lauren-esque and charmingly Swiss.  It helps that it’s located literally bang in the centre  of town, which my darling husband finds an absolute must. Anouska and her best friend Lulu arrived with mountains of luggage and her darling little dog Gigi.  Vivi was so overexcited to have not only her big sister in residence but also a little dog for a whole two weeks I thought she may pop.

We were up and running ski-wise the following morning and as ever were just truly grateful to be on top of a mountain with crystal blue skies, whitened Christmas trees and enough snow to have a great day whizzing getting our ski legs back.  That night was to be the first of many dinners..  Gstaad can be super social if you let it.  Le Comptoir is one of our family favourites  and our friend Sabina Barone, a good friend of the couple who own it, invited us and our great Ruski pals, Katya and Ruslan.  We seemed to get through two magnums of red wine scarily easily…

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Before I knew it Christmas Eve was upon us and that meant preparation of Turkey No3 – (No1 was in London with my Father and his amour Vivien). There would have been no need to panic if not for the small matter of designer Valentino and Giancarlo Giametti and their family being invited.

They are always consummate hosts and every detail is beyond perfect..  My secret weapon is of course Giorgio’s Mother, Marina, who drives in especially with all sorts of homemade Italian treats.  My other friends and family are sweet and would tell me it was delicious regardless!  Also our numbers had snuck up to 22!  Our chalet is perfect but a sit down Christmas supper for 22 took some imagination and organisation…  Of course we had finished the final tweak, lit the last candle, thrown a couple of extra logs on the fire and the jingly bell rang for the door.  Why is no-one ever late?

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I emerged in my new blue Paper London cocktail dress from my friend Cavan Linde’s new site, Cavan.com and of course she was the first through the door with her super husband Stefan and their son, Tine.  Violet had her cousin’s Tatum and Amber in tow and they all disappeared upstairs to Playmobil heaven..

The Ruskis, my sister, Clare and her husband, Sebastian, and Valentino, GG and co were finally all assembled and we all seemed to fit – well with a little seasonal goodwill squeeze.

Giancarlo made a beautiful thank you speech to Marina and before I knew it we were up and sitting by the tree exchanging gifts.  I have to bite my tongue a little as the Italian custom is to open presents on Christmas Eve, however Anouska and I stash ours under the tree pretending we have opened them all!  As always once everyone has gone and the little ones are tucked up, as the hostess you finally want to have some fun!  Luckily our Ruskis are always game and so on went some loud Bob Sinclair and we had a silly boogie until about 1.30am. Luckily I just remembered the most important part of Christmas Eve – leaving out the stockings!!

Christmas Day and of course skiing was not on the agenda… however a family lunch with our girls and the Lindes at the Grand Chalet was a very welcome break from my kitchen. Lastly we all hit The Palace Hotel, a Gstaad treasure,celebrating it’s 100th year, and with a crazy children’s party to boot.

Luckily I am married to a fabulous sporty Italian who was up bright and early on Boxing Day and took us all off to the glacier.  It was an absolutely magical ski day on top of the world.

Glacier

 

As if we didn’t all have enough fun, the one and only Patrick Cox arrived to stay with the Ruskis… that night we all went for rather too chic Sushi at the even swankier new Alpina Gstaad, hotel.  It was one of those evenings where the service was shocking, the food mediocre and the bill outrageous… all wrong!  My mood worsened when my once comfy trousers seemed to be having a battle with my body!  I duly apologized and sent myself home…

The next day was another treat as I was asked to ski with the boys – not another girl in sight!  Proud of myself doesn’t begin to cover it. Patrick, being a Canadian, was full of beans and a fabulous skier to follow. I of course couldn’t help but giggle when he finally hit the snow!

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As I mentioned earlier Gstaad is almost as much about skiing and sport as it is about the social whirl!  That night we bravely headed off into the night – a snow blizzard to put it mildly – to the Graffs incredible new chalet for a cocktail party.  It was held by their pool and we were over 100 people, I hope that says it all!  The nibbly bits were so delicious Patrick and I befriended a particularly cute waiter and were from that point  fed on demand.  I ran into Christina Estrada and the Nuttals, Harry and Dalit, I also found the pretty Heidi Bishop as we discussed little girls in ski school – all looking forward to New Years Eve.

We ended up for dinner at The Palace where Giorgio procured a table in the mad lobby, which offers the best people-watching ever.  Next to us all the new Yummy Mummys, Margherita Missoni and Tatiana Santa Domingo with her fiancé Andrea Casiraghi, with stuning sisters Olympia and Fiona Scarry upping the glamour quota.  I thankfully left Giorgio there but the next morning he was full of stories of dancing with John Travolta and naughty Ilias Psinakis in Gringo (the teens nightclub).

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Finally the night of all nights arrived… New Years Eve. We have been rather spoilt for the last few years being invited to the chalet of Valentino along with Giancarlo and their tribe.  It is of course uber elegant and the dinner is divine. Their New Year’s Eve party in Gstaad is legendary. We always take Vivi for an hour and then the party is just for us grown ups.  This year they had included my whole family.  My only hope was my sister would comply a little and wear a long gown – “out of the question” – and possibly some tights I said – “absolutely not”.  So far so good. Anouska however outshone us all with her fresh flower crown.  She looked sensational in her burgundy vintage McQueen, I was a proud Mama.

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Valentino was chic as ever in a fitted tartan dinner jacket, while the ever perfectionist Giancarlo was busy introducing anyone who didn’t happen to know everyone.

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Our good friends Geoffrey and Lulu Moore were there and as usual Lulu and I were in matching red frocks (it’s an Italian custom to have a bit of red somewhere for good luck).  The heavenly Carlos Souza was already in Brazillian mode and instagramming furiously.  Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and his lovely wife, designer Georgina (Marchesa) were in party mode while looking after her charming parents and I was rather thrilled to meet a new starcrush of mine, Tabitha Simmons, the newest shoe Queen.  Sad that at my age I can still feel schoolgirly about someone!  Madonna and her crew duly arrived in their black dance clothes.  I must say she did have a spectacular white fur coat for her entrance but would it kill her to wear a dress?

Supper seemed to be over in a blink and suddenly it was the 2014 count down!  New Year was duly kissed in properly.  Their DJ was amazing and surprise surprise we were into another serious dance off. The only scary bit is getting dragged in to the Madonna danc circle!  Bless her, Christina Estrada did and was actually rather good.  It’s definitely not my forte and I headed for the balcony to watch the fireworks.  Personally I liked Madonna’s little girl Mercy’s shy routine the best. Within half an hour the chalet was full to the brim with other guests who had come from house parties to greet Valentino and Giancarlo.  The naughty ones are always the most fun, so Principe Emanuele Filiberto and his sassy French wife Clotilde Courau, along with the Polanskis was a good start.  I found myself a quiet corner to have a catch up with the seriously chic Giulia Caltagironi, who was in emerald taffeta Oscar de la Renta no less. When David Furnish arrived we caught up until Patrick Cox and Tara Bernerd finally made their entrance.  As with all the best parties, those boys really know what they are doing, my lips have to remain zipped but please trust me it was a riot…

Joan Collins is hilariously funny

A new week and an inordinately annoying amount of colourful invitations to friends’ book launches have arrived through the door. When do they get the time to sit and write these magnificent tomes?! Not even a whiff of a ghost writer! First up was my old friend, ex-Jimmy Choo creator, Tamara Mellon. Although she has moved stateside she still has a hardcore group of girls who remember mad nights in Tramp or at her parents home in Chelsea. Tamara has done beyond exceptionally and her book, “In Her Shoes” has been seen as something of a whistle blower – noone has escaped! Racy also springs to mind.

Tamara Mellon

Tamara Mellon

Arriving at the launch, I made it in time to Harrods where I snuck quietly in the snaking line clutching my bought copy of the book. As I arrived at her pop up desk, Tamara was so surprised to look up and see me after a few hours of signing, it was so lovely to see she has retained her girlish enthusiasm. She was dressed head-to-toe in her new line TM, a lifestyle brand which she is cleverly marketing as “Buy Now, Wear Now”. Can I face her creating another fashion phenomenon?? Naturally I loved the shoes and was far more interested in bugging her rather-too-cute PA for the how and when I could get my hands (or rather feet) on a pair, or five! Like I need any more shoes…

Tamara Mellon and me

Tamara Mellon and me

 

On to the next launch! This time for our divine friend, and always ‘Best Dressed’, Giancarlo Giammetti with his almost autobiographical “PRIVATE” by Assouline. This has been a labour of love by Giancarlo. A scrapbook style of his and Valentino’s amazing life, work and play over their 50 years together. Rammed with incredible images of the beautiful and glamorous, the young and old, movie stars, models and everything in between! Giancarlo never does anything by halves and the Assouline boutique had been beautifully art directed by himself. The crush was almost unbearable but he was like a kid in a candy store, scribbling away. Joan Collins and Percy were smart and snuck off to Claridges for a pre-dinner cocktail. Tom Ford was smarter still, arriving ahead of the masses and then slipping off into the night. Princess Rosario showed her support and had two of her beautiful children with her. Arki Busson, without Uma, was on great form, as was the ever handsome Tim Jefferies. Carlos Souza, one of their beloved tribe, was on his Instagram constantly bossing both Giancarlo and Valentino around. Finally we all departed for a delicious dinner at Downtown Cipriani, hosted by the magnificent Marina Palma. Marina had even managed to have their usually garish lighting turned down to a subtle glow – quite a feat!

 

Giancarlo Giametti at his book launch

Giancarlo Giametti at his book launch

Last in the book launch category, but by no means least, was one of my favourite icons ever, Joan Collins. I am far and away her biggest fan and she knows it! Having met her first with our mutual friend Terry O’Neill over 20 years ago, I just love her! She is a real fighter and hilariously funny. I could go on but it’s a bit much! We headed down the staircase at The Westbury Hotel for her book party (see what I mean?!) for “Passion for Life”, and literally bumped into Julian Clary and his partner Ian Mackley. Funnily enough Giorgio and I had just watched his Piers Morgan “Life Stories” the night before and I found myself being horribly gushy about how great his story had been.

 

Me with Valentino and Giancarlo Giacometti

Me with Valentino and Giancarlo Giacometti

Right behind us was the one and only Mario Testino, a fellow Peruvian for Percy! So far, so glamorous. The Fennels, Louise and Theo, two of her greatest friends were holding court, and chat show supremo Graham Norton was making a small group giggle. Cleo Rocos was her usual friendly, chatty self with extraordinary perky red hair. Joan looked sensational in black satin and twinkling diamonds. She was in fabulous form and I think beyond thrilled with the turnout. Her lovely son, the artist Sacha Newley, was milling around and Valentino and Giancarlo were inundated with photo requests. I have now got a bedside table with the 3 books – forget about time to write them, when am I going to read them?!

 

Giorgio, Joan, me and Percy

Giorgio, Joan, me and Percy

At the weekend I went up to Harrow school on the Hill with my father, a proud old Harrovian himself. He has a very deep passion for the school and has had a scholarship programme for state school boys for about 15 years. He was a scholar himself and feels it was what gave him his great start in life. His annual scholars lunch is a very emotional day; all the new boys attend with their parents and all the current Harrovians have to make a speech about what they have been up to and their achievements. I always shed a few tears and the fact that these boys take their chance at life so seriously, their sporting achievements, their academic results (a quite astonishing amounts of A*s) and how thankful they are for having been given this golden opportunity, is quite humbling. The boys’ speeches, with no notes, always wow me and without fail I head home feeling very proud to have a father who leads by such wonderful example, putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak.

 

The Beckwith scholars

The Beckwith scholars

Finally my week concluded with a great new show at my gallery, The Little Black Gallery, with Patrick Lichfield’s “Caribbean”. It is amazing the different crowd that congregates for his shows. His partner Lady Annunziata Asquith always arrives looking super chic and is from that point inundated with old friends coming to say ‘hi’. The pictures of Mustique, Bahamas, Bermuda and Cuba are all part of his collection, never previously seen. Lichfield’s daughter, Eloise popped by and was full of joy at her recent marriage. She was as pretty as a picture and friendly, as alaways. Not surprisingly we had record sales!

 

Vivi at Halloween ©Tamara Beckwith

Vivi at Halloween ©Tamara Beckwith

So after all that and, oh yes, Halloween to boot! I am not sure about where you live, but in my neck of the woods it seems to have gone nuts. My little ‘witch with a twist’ Vivi was still anxious to be trick or treating at 8pm. I felt it was rather later for a not-even-5-year-old! Accidentally losing all her loot will not be so easy I am sure. Some of the homes here had almost exceeded LA standards, with queues of children in the best Halloween costumes I have seen for a long time. A little girl of about 3 years old dressed as a Black Birkin bag! Hilarious and very London. Now I think I deserve a quiet weekend…

Julian Lennon photography, Fleetwood Mac and a fabulous ladies’ lunch

They say moving house is up there with divorce and death as a major stress factor and I can now testify that the displacement I have felt for the last 6 weeks has indeed been quite full-on! Add to that the fact that my precious little girl has just started at big school and it really is a miracle that I haven’t started midday drinkies! Our new home does seem to be coming along though, and I think I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel of the seemingly endless snagging list. Apart from the house move, I have also socially been equally rushed off my, nearly totally faded tanned, feet.

So instead of my usual long-winded, waffly approach to blogging I will try to be concise, factual and hopefully with more than a whiff of the amusing…

Me with the talented Julian Lennon

Me with the talented Julian Lennon ©Gabriel Lovas

Firstly my business partner and I had the honour of presenting Julian Lennon’s first London show of his photography at The Little Black Gallery. The run up was jam packed with press interest in Julian and on the opening night he was inundated with friends, fans and new collectors who wanted to come and meet him and see his work.

 

Malin & Tim Jefferies, myself and Boris & Lilly Becker

Malin & Tim Jefferies, myself and Boris & Lilly Becker ©Gabriel Lovas

Boris & Lilly Becker, who used to be neighbours of his, swung by, Robert & Masha Hanson came and even my dearest friend and fellow photography gallerist Tim Jefferies made an appearance. The evening was quite exhilarating and it was also fun to have boy-about-town Mark Francis Vandelli come and show his handsome face. After the show, a group of us headed to Zafferano for a true Italian feast in their newly renovated wing.

The dashing Mark-Francis Vandelli

The dashing Mark-Francis Vandelli and me ©Gabriel Lovas

A few days later, more cultural delights awaited as my naughty old partner in crime Martyn Lawrence Bullard (interior designer to the Hollywood stars) had blown into town and scooped up a ‘Best Reality TV Show’ award. I popped in to watch his Q&A alongside Nicky Haslam at the V&A and was very impressed. That evening we headed to the Christie’s preview of their Kate Moss sale from the collection of Gert Elfering.

Melissa Odabash and Martyn Lawrence

Melissa Odabash and Martyn Lawrence Bullard © Gabriel Lovas

Some of the 58 photographs were absolutey stunning. Kate Moss arrived in her trusty uniform of skyscraper stilletos and itty bitty black dress escorted by her father Peter and her husband Jamie Hince. She looked thrilled with the show and I did spot her magnificent agent Sarah Doukas looking on proudly from the sidelines.

Kate Moss with Philippe Garner of Christies

Kate Moss with Philippe Garner of Christies

Mary McCartney was also milling about as was her great friend and loyal supporter David Tang who was in deep discussion with David Linley. At that point we decided dinner was a must, grabbing Martyn and my business partner Ghislain I coerced them into joining me at Hertford Street for dinner.

Kate Moss at Christies

Kate Moss at Christies

The next morning I was thrilled to have no hangover and had the added excitement of having been invited by a new group of friends to the Fleetwood Mac concert at London’s O2 Arena. My husband Giorgio and I have quite a funny history with the music – far too long a story to enter into here, you’ll be relieved to know, but he heavily encouraged I go despite him being in New York for business.

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac

For me going off with a group of people I have only met once before is not what I consider daunting and, since my host and hostess were so funny and inclusive, I had a ball. The evening itself was so wonderful and having the original line-up play with Stevie Nicks was literally like Christmas come early. I sang along to every song and could have easily listened on for few hours and hours. Mick Fleetwood deserves every morsel of his legendary status. Funnily enough my father had also gone that night with his girlfriend and they came to find us mid-show, my only peeve was that I hadn’t hit the merchandising stand before we went up to our seats – the queues on the way out were something to be seen!!! I conclude Fleetwood Mac are my ultimate guilty pleasure!

Erin O'Connor, Naomi Campbell and Caroline Winberg

Erin O’Connor, Naomi Campbell and Caroline Winberg

Later that week I was off to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden as a guest of Naomi Campbell’s to watch a pre-screening of her new Sky Living TV show “The Face” (she is also the Executive Producer!). Erin O’Connor and Caroline Winberg are her fellow supermodel mentors on what I believe is the ultimate ‘model talent show’.

Valerie Campbell and me

Valerie Campbell and me

It goes without saying Naomi is the star attraction, she is so watchable you just want more and more of her and her antics! I was super happy to bump into her glamorous mother Valerie, whom I have known for years. We caught up and took our seats in the front row. Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw was on hilarious form as he took to the make-shift runway and strutted his stuff.

Nick Grimshaw with Erin, Naomi and Caroline

Nick Grimshaw with Erin, Naomi and Caroline

Sadly for him, Naomi, Erin and Caroline really showed us why they are the top girls. The show itself was fabulous, glamorous and I think pretty true to life, showing that the modelling world can be cruel and full of rejection. I for one have been tuned in ever since!

Celia Dunstone and Jenny Halpern

Celia Dunstone and Jenny Halpern

I had one last duty with a girls’ lunch thrown by the very lovely Celia Dunstone at her more than fabulous house. Introducing us all to a new brand of casual knitwear and heavenly leather jackets by ME&EM alongside the much sought-after Monica Vinader jewellery and the best part of it all was that a percentage of our fun (i.e. our spending) went to the worthy cause of The Prince’s Trust. All in all it was a win, win situation! Lunch for over 30 women can often be a bit much but Celia’s organisation was great and I had Monica Vinader and Jenny Halpern Prince all to myself – noone really ever drew breath! Our delicious and extra light in the calorie department lunch by The Cellar Society was tip top and, to add a cherry on the top of the event, we were sent off on our merry way with gorgeous gifts so, like I said, it was win, win!

Since I have got back my weeks seem to have got shorter and fuller… (Not a great look if I was talking legs!)

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