I am lucky enough to have two of the best grandmothers a girl could wish for. My mum's mum was unable to take up her invite to an elite Country Life evening soiree and I got given the place instead. The theme of this party was ‘Girls in Pearls’ and was, as far as I understood a celebration for Country Life magazine and Mikimoto jewellery (one of the most famous pearl jewellery designers.)
The dress code was, of course, Pearls. My fabulous Grandfather had donated some fake pearls to me for the occasion (he just happened to have them lying around). As we shivered up to the grand entrance of the party’s venue, none other than Christie’s, I asked my date: ‘And where are your pearls?’ He looked down in shame only to discover that in fact the buttons on his Nicole Farhi shirt were made from mother of pearl, delighted with our good fortune we walked in smugly.
I had forgotten what Country Life magazine is like, pretty pretentious to be honest. All the other guests were dressed in, what looked like, exceedingly expensive outfits; I began to feel a bit dull in my French Connection dress. Luckily I had tried out a bit of Yves Saint Laurent bright pink lipstick in Harvey Nics and so had one thing that made me stand out a bit. The setting was all very grand, with huge bouquets of fresh roses and a professional string quartet playing in the corner, rudely ignored by most of the guests. I took a moment to watch and enjoy their music.
To one side of the first room the Mikimoto pearl collection was displayed under sparkling lights. Five giant models stood like statues also displaying the jewellery, they seemed a little bored of being peered at by guests. I began to wonder what this party was all about. Pol Roger Champagne was on tap, they had the bottles everywhere, encouraging you to drink more, which wasn’t difficult as it was delicious. And I must mention the canapés, that exceeded all my expectations. Most were too fancy for me to understand, like miniature samples of a Michelin starred restaurant menu. Once we clocked where they were coming from we positioned ourselves at a nearby table. Luckily most of the other girls there were far too precious about their weight to eat so there was much more for us. My favourite had to be the venision with bacon, a dollop of celeriac mash and gravy, all components immaculately placed in a spoon, ready to eat. Other interesting treats included beetroot pannacotta and melted cheese and fig tarts.
Later on in the evening, as we were admiring the art we also discovered an oyster bar. Sadly I don’t eat oysters but I very much enjoyed the sight of others satisifyingly slurping them. At 8 o’clock on the dot we were ushered into the main room for a short, seemingly pointless speech. It was explained to us that while the rest of the country were wallowing in the misery of George Osborne’s spending cuts news, they were doing very well at Country Life, with sales just getting better and better, and so had ordered even more champagne for the evening’s entertainment. It became obvious that the evening had little purpose other than to celebrate wealth. Not that I was complaining I had had a splendid time gorging on their canapés and champagne.
We left a bit early; everyone else seemed to know each other. I was sure to collect a goodie bag on the way out which was filled mostly with catalogues of expensive things. It’s not everyday you get an invitation to a Christies party, and as I stepped out with my smart goodie bag, I got envying looks from passers by. I thought to myself, I might know my pearls are fake, but they don’t!