(Photos all by NHYM copyright 2014)
Peak Summer Party Week
Apparently, this week is Peak Party Week for Summer Parties (quoted from the Evening Standard 2/7/14) and if there is one summer party to go to and one invite to receive, it is to the Serpentine Summer Party (Cartier Polo is passé, Wimbledon becomes a bit repetitive, and it wouldn’t be fair to compare it to Garden/Country/School Parties). It is the gallery’s biggest fundraiser of the year and showcases a Pavilion designed by some of the world’s most influential architects, from Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, to Jean Nouvel and Oscar Niemeyer, who have all exhibitied in the past. It is also the trendiest party of the year, mingling artists, architects, fashion designers with A-list Hollywood stars of the moment, Supermodels and London socialites, Rock Stars, and Power Mad Business Tycoons.
First, the art…
This year, a Chilean architect Smiljan Radic brought a giant alien spacepod to Hyde Park. It is one of the strangest pavilions so far, (I am partial to the Japanese architects, really liking Sou Fujimoto’s pavilion last year and the 2009 Pavilion by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa), but the directors, Julia Peyton Jones and Hans-Ulbrich Obrist see a vision in it: ‘While enigmatically archaic, in the tradition of romantic follies, Radic’s designs for the pavilion also look excitingly futuristic, appearing like an alien space pod that has come to rest on a Neolithic site.’
The Frog and The Yanks have landed in London in a Chilean Spacepod
Not only is this party about art, but it is becoming about international power players and this year’s party was co-hosted by some of the most powerful men in the world; Michael Bloomberg, (who recently became Chairman of the Serpentine, American ex-New York mayor, finance publisher, billionaire, 16th richest in the world), Francois-Henri Pinault, (French CEO of a luxury conglomerate, Kering, which owns Gucci, Stella McCartney, Bottega Venetta, St. Laurent amongst others, 3rd richest man in France), and Andre Balasz (Hungarian-American hotelier extraordinaire and taste-maker worth $450 Million, who recently opened the blazing hot Chiltern Firehouse). And in the midst of this power threesome are stories of politics and money, dating Hollywood actresses, Supermodel ex-girlfriends baby mommas, and more gossip and scandal than in a Danielle Steele novel.
Michael Bloomberg takes over the world
Michael Bloomberg, known for being a major philanthropist has already donated a large sum of money to help build an extension of the Serpentine Gallery, the Sackler gallery. This is just one of the ways of making his name in the London Social Circle, along with building Bloomberg Place in the city with Fosters architects, befriending David Cameron with party donations, and launching London’s Technology Week with Boris Johnson a few weeks ago. He already conquered New York by ‘buying’ his candidacy with more personal money than any other candidate (and did a relatively good job of it, being a Robin Hood type, decreasing New York’s deficit by cutting costs and spending his own personal money to compensate the losses). He now has his sights on London and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to try to run against Old Boris for the Mayor candidacy in London. The Etonian vs. the Billionaire. Perhaps we should take it as a compliment that he is now turning to London as his home, post NY, but perhaps it is his ambitions that have grown bigger than the U.S. alone. Unfortunately, Bloomberg was nowhere to be seen at the party, likely too busy planning on how to take over China.
The Co-Hosts: Francois Henri Pinault and Andre Balasz (Oh, and Brendan Mullane creative director of Brioni and Marina Abramovic, artist)
The other billionaire moving to London is Francois-Henri Pinault from France, who is known for his love scandals in great French style, having fathered two children in the same year with Supermodel Linda Evangelista and Superstar Hollywood Actress, Salma Hayek (I’m not sure his good looks got them into bed…). Andre Balasz, also known for dating Hollywood actresses (famously dated Uma Thurman post-Ethan Hawke, and the comedienne Chelsea Handler), also has his sights set on Hotel-World-Domination after the ridiculously successful London opening of Chiltern Firehouse, where everyone ended up for the Serpentine after-party.
(Keira Knightely at the DJ Booth)
As we arrive, Princess Beatrice is being photographed, looking like a princess in her billowy, white, flowery bouffant dress, while we pass the hoards of paparazzi. The security this year is much more stringent than in the past years, promising some great people watching. Inside, Andre Balasz, being the consummate host, is chatting and smiling at my arrival. The Ladies of London cast positioned themselves at the entrance to expose themselves to the world and welcomed any photographic exposure. At the bar near the DJ Booth, I am fighting for a Watermelon Martini with Nick Grimshaw behind me and Zadie Smith on my left (who knew she was this beautiful) while Cara Delivigne sipped her cocktail and watched on, being her kooky self. She is wearing a somewhat subdued, classical black Mulberry evening gown and carrying the latest Mulberry bag, of her own design. She is rather cool and beautiful in person. She eventually wanders off to chat to Keira Knightely who is at the DJ Booth trying to figure out who the guest performer will be tonight.
The people-watching is quite simply spectacular (not quite the Met Ball or the Oscars but pretty impressive for London standards), with Actors, Models, Magazine Editors, Fashion designers, Business Tycoons, Artists and all the other London’s scenesters and trendsetters everywhere I look (you can see all the dresses on the Hello, Vogue and Huffpost websites): Bradley Cooper is looking dapper next to Francois-Henri Pinault who made an appearance without his wife, Suki Waterhouse is looking fab in pale pink Burberry although a little too slender for my taste. Grayson Perry, Tracey Emin and Nancy D’el Olio, colourful as always, are yearly regulars. Orlando Bloom looks rather dashing with his hair pulled back in a fitted suit while Lily Allen is looking funky with multicoloured hair. Noel Gallagher has finally made it to the Serpentine this year he says, and chats to Bradley.
Keira, Cara and Alexa: the Belles of the Ball
Keira, Cara and Alexa are already setting the scene on the dance floor for the surprise guest. Natalie Massanet is looking a bit tired this year, she must be working too hard, while Sir Philip Green is here with his daughter. Nikki Hilton looks a little lost in the crowds, although pulling off a great black and white Diane von Vurstenberg jumpsuit. Gemma Arterton is looking luscious in her red midriff baring dress and red matching lips. The fash pack is out in force; Matthew Williamson, Alice Temperely, Naomi Campbell, Lily Cole, Arizona Muse are only some of the few. And I spot a number of NHN and NHYMs I recognise, and while I am busy people watching, Mr. C is busy being chatted up by a 20something New York socialite.
(The Electronic Surfboard)
Inside the gallery is a dedicated room for the football fans following USA vs Belgium, being projected on a wall in a man room, with an inflatable bouncy castle and electronically controlled surf board, a basketball hoop and a dance arcade (a favourite of Alexa Chung and Andre Balasz).
I ‘Get Lucky’ and I am ‘Happy’
As the sun sets on a beautiful evening and crowd in the Park, arrives the highlight of the night in the form of our favourite pint-sized, hat-wearing, artist/singer/producer Pharrell Williams. (Last year’s performance by the Saturdays was forgettable, the year before was Azalea Banks who sang 212 while I was boogying between Benedict Cumberbatch and Arizona Muse, and a few years before, Dizzie Rascal made us get rowdy to ‘Holiday.)’ It doesn’t get better than this. Pharrell is an artist and a magician with his hit songs and collaborations, who inspires 3 year olds to 70 year olds. And as he sang ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Happy’ under the stars of Hyde Park’s Serpentine Gallery, there is nowhere else to be tonight, and just for tonight I truly am feeling pretty ‘Happy’ and I’ve gotten ‘Lucky’ as I held hands with Pharrell and danced the night away between Cara, Keira and Alexa.