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