You know you are at a high-fashion event when there is a man in a Little Red Riding Hood outfit, a woman with feather horns and people wearing ankle socks with shorts who are not toddlers.
You definitely know you are at a high-fashion event when those same people are not merely wearing an outfit, they are making a statement.
Like Nina Tiari from New York, who is wearing a jumper, tights and pink sequinned Miu Miu knickers that cost her £3,700. Surely you mean dollars, I murmur, trying to pretend it is perfectly normal to pay a four-figure sum in any currency for a pair of pants.
‘No, I mean your British pounds,’ she says. Nina is a dress designer who understands how it all works. ‘Value is relative. I’m not buying these knickers because I like them. I bought them to make a statement. I wanted Anna to notice me.’
Of course. Anna! Cue flash of lightning and ominous music.
Vogue World is the brainchild of Dame Anna Wintour, the formidable Vogue magazine supremo, who is here tonight in a severe silver trench. What statement is Anna trying to make in her coat of shining armour? That she is a Tin Man, perhaps, in need of a heart?
Vogue World is the brainchild of Dame Anna Wintour, the formidable Vogue magazine supremo, who is here tonight in a severe silver trench
This would certainly play into her reputation as the most terrifying woman in fashion, an icy commander capable of orchestrating a major event like this, right down to the carb-free canapés, which is supposed to be about supporting the British arts but is really about marketing the Vogue brand.
Vogue World is a night of entertainment at the Theatre Royal in London’s Drury Lane, a fledgling red carpet event that Anna hopes will one day rival her infamous Met Ball in New York.
Little booklets handed to guests claim the evening is being held to ‘celebrate iconic British creatives from Shakespeare to Stormzy’.
So far so marvellous, even if I’m not sure William Shakespeare needs the publicity boost afforded by Princess Eugenie turning up in a squat whorl of turquoise satin or Sienna Miller’s baby bump bursting through her Schiaparelli puffball skirt like a peach bobbing in a punch bowl.
The object of the exercise, Vogue claim, is nothing less than securing ‘the future of the UK’s rich cultural scene’, with proceeds going towards ‘the National Theatre and Royal Opera House, and many more’.
Good for them, even if there is no mention of the fact the National Theatre already receives £16 million from the Government every year and the Royal Opera House is the beneficiary of an annual Arts Council Grant of £22 million.
More is needed of course, more is always needed, but Vogue gives the flighty, self-important impression it is somehow single-handedly saving the arts world from certain ruination.
(L-R) Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista stand onstage during Vogue World
Damian Lewis and Alison Mosshart attending the Vogue World
There is certainly no mention of any support from the Conservative Government, only a statement in the programme from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, saying we must do ‘everything we can’ to ‘support the sector during the ongoing cost of living crisis’. Well, we could drop the Ulez scheme for a start, said no one at the event.
What I now understand about Vogue World is that it is not one world but many worlds, and most of those worlds are off-limits, behind a velvet rope, entry forbidden unless you happen to be Kate Moss or a Delevingne or the person who knows the person who assists the person who polishes the buckles on Anna’s party shoes.
We are not allowed into the tequila bar, onto the first-floor balcony, into the Cecil Beaton bar, or onto the official after-party at Mayfair club George. I’m not complaining. It is just how it is.
Guests who have paid around £500 for a ticket are told to take public transport and arrive two to three hours before the show begins. I’d like to witness the eruption that would ensue if they told Naomi Campbell to do the same thing. When we civilians arrive we are hurried down the red carpet (‘keep moving, keep moving’) and rushed into the upstairs reception rooms of the theatre, leaving the coast clear for the celebrities.
Upon arrival each guest is handed a rose. What is this for, I ask? ‘There is going to be a throwing moment inside,’ he says. I bet there is. Throwing up or throwing down, that is the question, as that up-and-coming playwright guy W. Shakespeare once almost wrote.
(L to R) Poppy Delevingne, Stella McCartney and Carey Mulligan attend Vogue World
Princess Beatrice poses for a photo as she attends Vogue World
US actor and singer Jared Leto (R) and US drummer Shannon Leto of Thirty Seconds to Mars pose upon arrival to attend the ‘Vogue World: London’
Upstairs in the Burberry Grand Salon, waiters are serving crab croquettes, radishes with butter, walnut and quince bites and trays of hard-boiled eggs topped with haddock cream — exactly all the things, I would venture, that you don’t want to eat at a party.
Sparkling wine is served generously while silent men walk through the crowds with lacquered trays piled with free Coach pashminas. Well, don’t mind if I do.
I talk to Susan Mutesi, a broadcaster from Australia who is wearing a giant cartwheel of orange net, a silver hoop across her boobs and a big smile. Susan, you look sensational, but how do you go to the loo? ‘I haven’t been yet. I don’t know if I dare,’ she says.
Choreographer Sean Bankhead is wearing a three-piece shantung Dolce & Gabbana suit that looks as if it has been carved onto his body. ‘No shirt, I thought I’d get my chest out tonight,’ he says.
Someone is wearing a captain’s cap, someone is wearing red tinfoil, someone is wearing a look that I have described in my notebook as ‘rasta virgin nun’.
Somehow, the nun, Susan and her cartwheel, Nina in her pants, Mrs Tinfoil and me all make our way into the theatre for the 45-minute show. Forty-five minutes! Is that it? Yet so much of it was pretentious nonsense many must have been glad it was so short.
It began with that old incorrigible Kate Moss being cheered for her interpretive dancing under a gauze curtain. It featured an utterly cringe Shakespearean (him again) duet between Stormzy and Sophie Okonedo. Worst of all was a comedy skit featuring Damian Lewis, Sienna, James Corden and others pretending to be theatre ushers and making jokes about the non-celebrities in the audience.
There were magical moments — the London Community Gospel Choir, the appearance of the original four supermodels from the 1990s, with Christy Turlington (always my favourite) looking as if she had not aged a second.
Yet by the time Dame Harriet Walter in a mad quiff came on to make a plea for all the actors and actresses taking to the stage across the country, my patience was exhausted. They needed more money? Well, they could always go and work in a shop.
The evening ended with singer Annie Lennox dancing around in a coat that spelled out God Save The World in rhinestones.
We don’t need God for that, darlings, we’ve got Vogue magazine.
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