You all know how it is...party famine and then along come three in a row, just like buses.
How does she do it? My wardrobe couldn't stand the strain. Adele Geras sends required details of her latest party in the perfect surroundings of the V&A Museum in London.I've seen the Chihuly's and they are indeed stunning, what a backdrop this must have made. I'm loving all this vicarious party pleasure but Adele tells me she has one more before the season is over and she'll be hanging up her party frocks for a while. I suspect she's quite exhausted and will need a holiday.
Thursday evening, in the half hour between the museum closing and the doors opening again to admit the guests flocking to Orion’s Author Party, the whole of the reception area was transformed. Flowers appeared everywhere, champagne flutes and other glass were ranged on what used to be the circular reception desk and the Chihuly chandelier - which is astonishing and astonishingly beautiful - hung over us like something from another world. And believe me, ‘flocking’ is the right word. There were apparently six hundred people circulating in the very impressive vestibule, and I spoke to scarcely any of them. Some of the people I was most looking forward to seeing just didn’t emerge out of the crowd. One of these, Jon Appleton of Orion Children’s Books, tells me by email that he was wearing patent leather shoes with silver trim and I wish I’d seen both them and him.
What I did see: Ian Rankin in a black shirt printed with a white flower pattern. Rachel Billington in a brocade jacket, white on black, a Chinese pattern. Her sister, Antonia Fraser was also in black and white and looked fantastic. I had a conversation with both halves of the writing partnership which is Annie Sanders: Annie Ashworth and Meg Sanders. Annie was in a crisp and beautiful white blouse and black trousers. Meg had a scarf round her neck that mirrored the Chihuly above us: intricate and interesting. Her glittering necklace was beautiful, but I can’t remember the name of the designer. Too much champagne. Too much noise. She was in conversation with Kate Harrison who looked very pretty in a top printed with a red and black Japanese design. I saw flowers but Kate reckoned she’d spotted mushroom clouds and the nuclear power symbol, but perhaps only because she was feeling paranoid about her next book.
Erica James looked very stylish in black with a necklace of glittering amethyst flowers, but the prize for Jewellery of the Evening goes to Judith Elliott of Orion Children’s Books. Her necklace looked like a bright gold snake, twisted up in to a vaguely Egyptian shape, but Judith assured me that it wasn’t real gold at all, but simply a rope of gold stuff -.plastic? I don’t know - which you slipped over your head and made into any shape you liked. Fabulous.
Francesca Simon, of Horrid Henry fame, was wearing a cloth-of-silver jacket and agent Rosemary Sandberg looked as glamorous as ever in black.
Catriona MacPherson was in floral printed jersey and looked super and she was with agent Lisa Hoylett who was wearing the most beautiful black suede shoes on vertiginous heels. I wondered how she managed to look so comfortable. She also had on a real fox fur, which had once belonged to her grandmother and which she’d inherited. It looked both elegant and sinister, as fox furs always do.
The prize for the most original outfit goes to a woman whom I don’t know. I asked her her name as I was on my way out of the party but I didn’t write it down (some fashion reporter I am!) and now I’ve forgotten and I apologise. She was elderly, small, and dressed in a long skirt, a dusty- pink velvet figure-hugging jacket in the Edwardian style and to top it all, a straw hat with red and pink silk roses decorating the brim. She looked magnificent, as though she’d stepped out of one of the V&A’s galleries.
We were allowed to go and see Kylie’s clothes, which are on show there now and apparently bringing in more crowds than any exhibition ever held in the museum. I don’t know what these looked like on stage, but I can report that up close the fabrics were ghastly: synthetic , and seeming to give off static even as they stood there. The colours were unsubtle. I felt quite sorry for poor Kylie having to put them on and appear in them in public.
And finally: I caught a glimpse of Marie Helvin who must be nearly as old as I am and looked about thirty-five. I said it last week and I’ll say it again, models are not like the rest of us. She was very, very slim and tall and plainly dressed in what looked like black trousers and a grey T shirt and she was quite dazzlingly beautiful.