That’s the Way to Do It – 2011’s Best Parties

by Katie on December 31, 2011

It’s the last day of 2011. (Thank God. Let’s just say that it’s not been the best or the kindest for many). And, I’m ruminating on my selected good times of the year which have mostly involved parties, events and meeting very entertaining new people. 

I cannot abide annoying aphorisms like “If life throws you lemons, make lemonade, (then add tequila)” etc. I find them a trite dismissive of people’s concerns and of real life. Never a truer sentiment was uttered re fashion in the midst of recession than in Vanessa Friedman’s recent Financial Times column, “There’s nothing I feel like I need to buy in order to feel current, no ankle boot will fix all my problems.”

Saying that, in the midst of mire often the only outlet is to gaze upwards. Aspire to better times and enjoy the opportunities that occur. Keep looking upwards and onwards. With this in mind, I’m spotlighting the hours of fabulousness that came my way in 2011 in the year’s best parties (with thanks to the brands and hard working PRs who invited me) and looking forward to the next set, even if I may be partying in last season’s clothing. 

Happy New Year when it comes people. Slainte Mhath.

The Most Glittering Uplifting Launch to Christmas – Tiffany & Co’s ‘Winter Wonderland’ party at Somerset House. With Emeli Sande head-lining and Norman Jay MBE’s hot DJ’ing skills, the party mixed new style upbeat soul with an old style London Christmas with its magical lights, stilt walkers, acrobats, ice dancers and smart waiters all bedecked in Tiffany blue scarves – not to mention the flowing champagne, mulled wine and cocktails to get the crowd in a Christmas party mood. Magical scenes captivated so much, you missed the many famous faces in attendance. The most joyous, fun filled, glamorous, kick off to Christmas I’ve ever experienced. Attendees Dame Judi Dench, Pippa Middleton, Jade Parfitt, Kelly Hoppen, Paul Smith and Julien Macdonald would no doubt agree. 

The Most Star Filled Party that made a Civilian think “Why am I here?”Stella McCartney’s Christmas Lights switch on celebration. When super sleek Ms McCartney decides to throw a party, boy does she go all out. Not only was it a relatively intimate (well, enough to fill her Bruton Street store) shindig but she managed to rope in Jennifer Saunders as her ‘Ab Fab’ persona Edina Monsoon to switch on the store’s Christmas (eco energy) lights and fill a space with so many celebrities that it began to be like ‘spot the un-famous’ in their midst. Sir Paul & Nancy, Sir Bob, the ubiquitous Alexa Chung, Nick Grimshaw, Kate Moss (looking amazing as per..), Laura Bailey, Sharleen Spiteri, Pam Hogg, Richard E Grant, Marie Helvin, Mike Figgis, Lynn & Evelyn De Rothschild, Sir Peter Blake….the list goes on and on. See what I mean? An unforgettable night filled with Laurent Perrier fuelled giggles. 

Vogue’s Fashion Night Out – Too many great store events and parties in the one night to leave this out of any list. Lucy In Disguise’s new store launch sponsored by Grey Goose, the Burberry Party with live indie band, Coach’s new Bond St store party with Gwynnie and Alex Shulman in attendance and, of course, Stella’s legendary Vogue Night Out Bruton Street store bash. It was also the night I infamously broke my arm at the Rupert Sanderson roller disco rink. Some ideas are better left on paper, methinks.

The Most Unlikely Splendifirous PartySkyy Vodka’s Bartender of the Year event held at The Supper Club underneath the Westway in Notting Hill. Now, if you’d have told me that a party in the deepest part of West London, on a Monday, with the only celeb party scenesters in attendance being the (pre fame and Series 2) ‘Made in Chelsea’ crew would be making my list a year ago, I’d be laughing like a drain. As it was, the atmosphere, the cocktails, the fact that you had to purchase* (*ie. bribe) the drinks from the bartenders with fake dollahs while pumping music played and the anything goes and laid back attitude of everyone attending made this a night to remember. It was also one of the first appearances of the ever present ‘sickly pink drink’ of 2011.

The Craziest OTT Party from an Unknown Designer – Vanessa Gounden’s debut launch party held at Banqueting House, Whitehall. The sheer scale of this catwalk show and party was a shock to most fashion centric attendees used to newbie designers being hard strapped for cash and seeking their fame and fortune by securing that order from Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Barneys or Net-a-Porter. 
However, self-made millionairess and philanthropist, Vanessa Gounden, had no such concerns and launched her new label with an almighty crash, bang and wallop on the London fashion circuit. Opulent, lavish and swathed in black and red light and fittings with overflowing Veuve and vodka, myriad celebs (Jade Jagger, Jade Parfitt, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Jasmine Guinness, Emilia Fox) and an OTT production level of the catwalk show itself which was more a presentation and a ‘theme’, this was one that stuck in the mind if not for the real reasons, the clothes themselves.

The Socialite’s ‘New Project’ Party of the Year – When Willa Keswick decides to do something new, she certainly knows how to make an entrance. The beauty of this project is it ain’t half a bad idea – marrying exciting new London based designers with hard to find global labels, hip art and object trouves with a varied price list.  

The Village Bicycle is great little find in (where else) Notting Hill. As the first journo inside the store, I saw first hand Willa’s joy as the place took shape two days before her party. A delightful character full of enthusiasm, graciousness and good will, Willa impressed me as much as the store which is taking its place on the Ledbury Rd circuit. At the party, Dani and Annette Felder, Henry Holland, socialite and columnist Richard Dennen, Jade Parfitt, Luke Pritchard of The Kooks, Tyrone Wood, ‘Great Expectations’ Douglas Booth, TV presenter Zara Martin, Laura Bailey, Julia Restoin-Roitfield, Eliza Doolittle, Poppy and Cara Delavingne mingled with the creme de la creme de West London.

Fashot TV’s launch at Sketch – At the time, we hadn’t heard of Fashot TV and still now, some say what?, who? Yes, it maybe niche, but this launch at Sketch was the most fun filled , bizarre party that featured bad rappers, unknown awards, plentiful champagne (natch), a cross section of designers, fashion biz types and bloggers along with a smattering of ‘Made in Chelsea’ (Alas, they have now outgrown the fashion blogger party circuit and my headcount pics are running low on the Series 2 newbies). It also featured one of the many friend of Chutzpah mishaps when a Birkin dumped in a sink with automatic tap sensors, slowly filled with water while make-up was being applied. Cue floating debris, Blackberry, tupperware broccoli box and a bag drip, drip, dripping, all night.

Net-a-Porter’s Unrivalled Ability to pull in the Big Names but to lose a few by giving zero directions – The Dolce & Gabbana launch held at the swish Net-a-Porter offices in Westfield, West London saw the bizarre spectacle of me (unable to find the damn place) teaming up with David Gandy’s agent and of David Gandy (yes, the one), giving us directions and meeting us outside the doors of the place which we’d walked past around a gazillion times. That’s how easy it is to find a place if you’re not given specific instructions. Hmm. That aside, on entry it was a multi bizarre celeb fest with designers, models, actors, famous journos and pop stars who wandered around the Net-a-Porter offices going from bar-to bar at either end and trying to work out who was there, or rather, who wasn’t.  Attendees included Queen Latifah, David Gandy (natch), Naomi Campbell (guided by a ring of PRs/assts), Pixie Geldof, Henry Holland, Kelly Osbourne, Pixie Lott, Douglas Booth, Tara and Otis Ferry, Roksanda Illincic, Mary Katrantzou, Jaime Winstone and Nat Weller. And moi, obviously.

Summer Bar Launch of the Season – From what I can vaguely remember, The Vista Bar Launch at The Trafalgar was the Summer Party that kicked it off. Despite only a smattering of celebrities, high jinks were plentiful as a fine London Summer evening, unrivalled views of the city and copious amounts of cocktails had everyone in a party spirit. The space itself is huge and can only be appreciated fully with not so many in attendance. Still, it gave me an excuse to go back and sample when it wasn’t so ram-packed with business types and T.O.W.I.E inhabitants.

Most Glam Art Exhibition launch – Now I attended a fair few glam art events in 2011 mostly at the Royal Academy, Scream or Whisper but The Krug Happiness Exhibition launch was the best of the best not only for the idea itself, the celebrities involved in the art project, the inspirational choices and for the Krug Vintage Premier Cru being served all night which had everyone as happy as hoot. Co-curated by Lady Amanda Harlech (muse to Lagerfeld at Chanel), this had exactly the right mix of fashion, art, music and business in attendance in the glorious surroundings of the vast Haunch of Venison gallery. Lady Amanda Harlech attended alongside Virginia Bates, Andrew Logan, Nicky Haslam, Alex James and Jasmine Guinness  which raised funds vital for the Royal Academy Schools. (And yes, that is me larking around with Alex James).

Please let me know what you think of this year’s best party choices by leaving a comment in the box below.

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