The design doyenne hosts a glittering party at Sotheby’s galleries
It’s a clear, crisp morning; I take advantage and walk to Sotheby’s. It’s a good decision – by midday it’s pouring with rain and blowing a small gale.
A friend comes in and we look around the exhibition. She appreciates fine workmanship and is thrilled to see Tord Boontje’s Fig Leaf wardrobe ‘in the flesh’, commenting that photos do not do it justice.
Christopher Wilk, senior design curator at the V&A, also comes in. I always enjoy talking to Christopher; he is so learned and informed. I never fail to pick up knowledge from our discussions. Trying to be too clever by half, I ask him my new “party piece” question: does he know Birmingham is the world’s leading copper manufacturing centre? The wardrobe’s 616 copper-enamelled leaves were made there.
Of course, Christopher knows. Later he mentions he is leaving for Portland, Oregon the next day. I assume it must be something to do with wine, but it’s because Portland is the plywood capital of the world and a major exhibition on the material is in the pipeline at the V&A.
I am now equipped with two fascinating new facts with which to thrill my friends and acquaintances.
Kate offers me a lift home as I need to go and change in preparation for the reception and be back at Sotheby’s for 6pm. We make a small diversion via Chiltern Street and one of our favourite stores, Mouki Mou, where Tricia Guild bought the divine Rachel Comey dress she wore last night. We decide to pop in for a minute.
Mouki Mou owner Maria Lemos has impeccable taste and chooses pieces by lesser-known labels, such as 45 rpm from Japan and Jupe, a Belgian designer. According to Kate, the labels are very “me”. They are, I have to agree, but I am not shopping. It’s much too early to be thinking about what I’ll wear in spring. Artemis, the lovely assistant, says she’ll call me if anything “with my name on it” comes in.
Chiltern Street – despite its newfound fame thanks to the Chiltern Firehouse, London’s most self-consciously cool hotel and restaurant – still has some oddball shops such as Jas Musicals, exclusively selling Indian musical instruments. And Howarth of London has been there forever; a sign on a door reads: “For all bassoon enquiries, contact staff at number 31”.
Home, bath, change and back to Sotheby’s. The doors open at 6.30pm. It’s crowded straight away and a great turnout. I talk to as many people as possible. My great friend Suzy Menkes, who knew Alexander McQueen, is busy Instagramming the Doll Chairs. I see designer Nigel Coates and his partner John Maybury, the film director famous for his iconic collaborations with Derek Jarman. John spies Nicole Farhi and starts taking endless photos of her (I adore John – he’s very naughty). I also spot Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum, and his partner Jeremy Rosenblatt, another soulmate.
There are compliments and congratulations but I keep saying, “Congratulate Tord and Emma, not me”. The party officially ends at 8.30pm but the galleries are still crowded. I can’t leave – I am the host. And anyway, I’m having a great time.
Eventually things wind down and I join my husband David and son Olly at Little Social on Pollen Street. David and Olly are deep in discussion about events in Paris. Olly went on the protest march with a group of French filmmakers, including Julie Gayet. I am half asleep but they don’t even notice. The cheeseburger is delicious.