You know it's going to be a good night when the first person you talk to is Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (cool title, no?), Joan Collins. Dame Collins charmed us last night at the inaugural summer party for the Victoria and Albert Museum, where we asked what brought her out.
"Well, listen darling," she drawled. "The V&A is a marvelous testament to British culture and history. I myself can wander around in here happily for hours.
So true. It's easy to lose an afternoon in the glory of the V&A museum. God bless British museums. For the most part, they’re free and astoundingly beautiful. In fact, nobody should leave London without having a cream tea in the unabashedly lavish V&A cafe designed by William Morris, or a trip to the gift shop.
The summer party last night was hosted by the V&A’s new chairman (and Condé Nast International president), the ever-dashing Nicholas Coleridge, and the organizers are hoping it will become an annual event. To be sure, the V&A deserves to be celebrated. Not only should it be heartily congratulated for keeping entry free, it also is one of the few art institutes that puts fashion on the front line as art, rather than viewing fashion as trivial. This is evidenced by the countless fashion exhibits it has held. Who can forget “David Bowie Is”, "From Club to Catwalk", or Wedding dresses"? Never mind the current exhibit: "Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear."
There is also the Fashion in Motion series, in which curators handpick designers to show in the magnificent, goose bump-giving Raphael Gallery. To be sure, it is a rare privilege to be asked, as Osman Yousefzada, who was chosen in 2010, confirmed to us. "It was an amazing honor to be asked to show my collection and be part of a great roster of designers who have showed there before," he said, referring to designers like Christian Lacroix, Hardy Amies, Ferre, Missoni, and his peer, Ashish. "In fact, the collection went to a completely different sphere against such a magnificent setting."
The party was destined for success considering the committee members included Kate Moss, Christopher Bailey, Victoria Beckham, Alexandra Shulman, and the like. No surprise, then, that Moss made an appearance (but left straight away to Paris to sit frow at her buddy Kim Jones' LVMH menswear show held the next day). She was joined by Arizona Muse, Erin O'Connor, Jeremy Irons, Mary Katrantzou, Edie Campbell, Sabine Getty, Charlotte Tilbury, Twiggy, Katie Grand and many more. Yes, of course there was chatter about today’s Brexit referendum, but the power and the respect of the institute commanded that people speak about it in hushed whispers. Talking about politics in polite company, as you know, is a no-no.
Completely done up in am elegant display of flowers, the venue was even more beautiful than usual, with food and wine to match the decor. This was British summer and British elegance at its peak, and perhaps Dame Collins summed it up the best: "Look around you, look at the flowers, the people, the building itself. Everyone looks even more beautiful simply by being here."