A bittersweet London memorial and a wonderful Milanese wedding
DINNER WITH TOMMY HILFIGER AND THE SOFTER SIDE OF GORDON BROWN:
Paris having been a whirlwind of chicness, fashionistas and massive parental pride I found myself back in a chilly London. Mondays are usually strict no go zones as far as socialising is concerned but my darling husband Giorgio had planned a business dinner with Tommy and Dee Hilfiger at trendy new club 5 Hertford Street, so hey ho when the husband decides to change the rules…
We arrived and lo and behold it turned into a jolly dinner, except Dee and I were the only females – joined by five men! I suppose, at least it made us look good. Tommy kept us all entertained with his wicked sense of humour and spot-on imitations of his friends. The actor Christopher Biggins arrived very late for a post theatre supper – having just been to see Rupert Everett’s latest offering, The Judas Kiss. He was swift to tell me there were lots of naked bits on show!
I was back at 5 Hertford Street later in the week for one of my best and naughtiest girlfriends, Lindy Loo’s birthday – her devoted husband threw a very intimate dinner but yet again we seemed super men heavy (not that we should be complaining!). Anything’s better than New York where the men-to-women ratio is something ghastly like 1-7!!! I was beginning to feel like an early night would be a blessing in another life as we had a very long-standing memorial dinner scheduled for Saturday evening. The nature of a memorial party is something of a conundrum because, naturally, it is tinged with sadness. On this occasion, however, the widow in question, Lucy Doughty, threw what I can only describe as an exemplary royal send off for her beloved late husband, former Nottingham Forest owner, business supremo and Labour Party donor Nigel, who died suddenly earlier this year, aged just 54.
Labour heavyweights in attendance included current leader Ed Miliband and ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown. We got to see a side of the taciturn Scot you don’t normally see – he was soft and charming and, blow-me-down-with-a-feather, came across as highly loveable and a totally normal hands-on papa with his lovely wife Sarah and sleepy son. He made a wonderful welcome speech and acted as a sort of master of ceremonies. Usually I am able to bite my tongue but he was really rather incredible and I felt compelled to tell him so. He actually won me and a great many other guests over that night. To end the evening on a high we were totally spoilt by the Doughtys’ great friend Stevie Wonder flying in especially to perform all his greatest hits. As you may be able to tell, the whole evening was actually a little bitter sweet.
As if London needed any more excuses to get busier, Frieze art fair was upon us. It started off with a Stephen Webster Preview of his couture jewellery line at ESPA in the Corinthia Hotel. How was I to know this is where the X Factor Contestants live?! Hoardes of youngsters all clutching cameras and printed photos swarming outside as I arrived, none the wiser. Popping by to say ‘hi’ to Stephen and his charming Russian wife Assia, I bumped into the beautiful Malin Jefferies, who was then off to support her dapper gallery owner husband Tim.
I had not managed to find a minute to get to his stand at the Palladium of Art and Decoration (PAD) in Berkeley Square, but then again I hate looking at things I have no way of ever buying anyway. I was also trying to hold onto my reserve energy tank to host what has become an annual Frieze lunch at my own gallery, The Little Black Gallery.
I try to invite a clutch of carefully chosen girls who all have some sort of business situation. I also promise them that it’s one hour in total. Pretty important as time is precious and I know all my girlfriends like to pick up their little ones from school or nursery. First through the door was the most rock‘n’roll jeweller in the world, Loree Rodkin. We caught up on all our mutual friends back in LA, and naturally I wore one of the precious snake rings that she had custom made for me. The new muse for Dolce Gabanna Alta Moda, Marpessa Hennink – she is a legend – came and kept all the girls laughing and in awe at how she looks so cool. Tabitha Somerset-Webb (her handbags are to die for) and my great friend fashion designer Alessandra Vicedomini (a really smart cookie with a must-have collection for this winter) talked shop with new jeweller on the block to the Chelsea/Mayfair crew, Mimi Baldwin. All in all we had a hugely productive lunch. They came and viewed my Vee Speers Photography show and then got a chance to eat at the delicious Italian “Eleven” whilst making new friends…
If dressing beautifully for Paris is a stretch then Milan is a whole different effort level. Naturally, being married to a Milanese man, I can’t risk the shame of bumping into one of his friends looking typically Tamara and crumpled. So packing involves military-style measures. Italians are totally unconcerned with teeth, hair and manicures but when it comes to looking great in clothes they lead the world. I made the huge mistake of wearing a fabulous olive green faux fur jacket – sweltering before I even got to our hotel. Of course, with the time change we flew into our room and had to get ready straight away. This is the story of my life with an Italian, always rushing!
The wedding of the beautiful Hannah Colman (Jimmy Choo’s President of Europe) to the irresistibly naughty but delicious Eduardo Polli kicked off with a huge dinner at Nobu. Hannah was in tight cream Tom Ford frock complete with Gwyneth Paltrow mid cape. How chic is that for a wedding look? The guest list was full of uber glam Euro characters: Fiona Swarovski, still with the best legs I have ever seen; Robert Kass from LA; Tamara Mellon in sexy black leather Valentino squired by her seriously successful beau Mike Ovitz in from New York; Von Bismarcks of all ages; Arun Nayar with his lovely leggy brunette Kimberly; Amanda Ferry minus Bryan; Giorgina Brandolini; the knockout Hilde Polli (Eduardo’s previous wife); Mogens Tholstrup – the list was endless…The smoking was, too – Milan seems to be a rule unto itself with the smoking ban.
The food was skimpy to say the least but Eduardo is renowned for liking his girls thin! The party was a riot and we all ended up at a new nightclub called Byblos. Rahim Aga Khan was having his birthday party and so, of course, we couldn’t say no. Our gorgeous girlfriends Caroline Habib and Arabella Spiro were all up for some trouble so we dragged Tamara Mellon and a slightly resisting Mike with us. Need I add some of us were responsible and some of us were not! The next day was a little foggy so Giorgio had booked a long table at Il Salumaio. Glenn Spiro, a truly amazing jeweller, came and found a kindred spirit with American artist and best friend of Peter Beard, Peter Tunney. My good friend Cavan Mahony Linde arrived wearing incredibly cheeky shorts with her husband Stefan. They have the Missoni concession here for London and so inevitably talk turned to fashion.
One of the husbands was feeling ridiculously generous or guilty for having left his wife behind at home and had been talked into buying her the virtually unobtainable latest Hermes cobalt blue matt crocodile Birkin. Did I want to go with him to look at it? Er, no thank you! I was off like a flash to the Valentino store where a red catsuit was being altered for that night. Yanet, the most efficient and honest shop assistant ever greeted me like the biggest spender ever (sadly, not the case) and produced my pantsuit. Heavenly and fitted like a glove.Heading back to the hotel I almost flew off my 9″ suede skyscrapers whilst starring at a giant poster of our friend Stephen Dorff in the new Hogan campaign. He had found us in Capri in the summer having just shot it! He looked every inch the real McCoy American Movie star.
Giorgio was off to show our British friends the Duomo. I politely declined. Arriving that evening at Palazzo del Senato was like a dream. From the outside it appears far from special and is almost unnoticeable. However, once you step through the ancient doorway into an open courtyard with imposing pillars, the beauty of the place really hits you. Our bride Hannah was now in another Tom Ford creation, which Giorgio thought too chic for words. Jewels dripped from earlobes and wrists were encased in bejewelled cuffs. The ever-charming playboy Philippe Junot was all smiles and Princess Lilly Wittgenstein and her husband Lambros were dispensing lots of kisses to all and sundry – the night was off to a great start. As we were ushered through to dinner under a canopy of twinkling candles and enormous hoops of flowers it was hard to disagree that Italians do do it better.
Thankfully the travelling is over for a while and London looks very welcoming. However, although I waffle on about wanting a quieter pace of life I obviously secretly love the hustle and bustle. A less hectic week ahead with an unusual photoshoot, another girlfriend’s birthday, and, oh, a wonderful night out at the theatre…