Holiday Inspiration

PARTY ON

By Susan Ward Davies

Lorraine Candy, Editor-in-Chief

At the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, I watched the world’s largest ever firework display from a friend’s balcony and then headed out of Hong Kong on a bus to see Grace Jones sing. We literally stayed up for 24 hours, going from house to house until the sun rose.

Dolce and Gabbana's 21st birthday party, which was in a cavernous club venue outside Milan. We had the best champagne, the best music and suddenly, at midnight, on a small stage in the centre of the dance floor, Donna Summer got up and sang McArthur Park to a stunned room….

Alannah Sparks, Acting Fashion Editor

The Cavalli party at Battersea power station was a lot of fun, purely because it was so fabulously OTT. Lashings of leopard print, silken chaises longues to recline on, and a buffet that was almost Bacchanalian in its extravagance, with wheels of parmesan, vats of risotto and whole Parma hams from Locanda Locatelli. And, unusually for a fashion party, everyone was tucking right in. There were no waifs, only glamazonians who hit the dancefloor with gusto when Kelis came on to play, and stayed there in their Jessica Rabbit gowns and dizzyingly high heels right into the early hours. It was so far from what we’re used to in London, that it just really sticks out in my mind.

Sara Blonstein, founder of Blonstein Associates, events organisers

The Snow White and the Huntsman after-party we did was a complete antithesis to the movie. The cast and crew wanted a total escape from months of medieval forests, so we recreated Warhol’s Factory in a west London warehouse. Silver foil walls, fairground rides inside, revolving beds, a New York taxi, bespoke graffiti, an illuminated dance floor and mannequins holding up tables. DJs Sean Rowley from Guilty Pleasures, the legends Chris Sullivan and Seb Fonteyn, along with the transvestite John Sizzle, made sure the likes of Kirsten Stewart, Charlize Theron, Rupert Sanders, Liberty Ross, Ray Winstone and lots of dwarves danced until dawn.

Our Apartment 58 party for Absolut vodka, Jameson Whiskey, Havana Club rum and Malibu, took the idea of recreating a real Manhattan House party over three days. The whole thing was built from scratch on Pernod Ricard’s private island off the coast of Marseilles. Going into a pretend lift, each room of the open-plan apartment became the living, breathing personality of each brand and their corresponding housemate. Each room had its own DJ, its own performance and its own look. One sound system allowed for each area in succession to dictate the vibe for the whole party, which changed every 40 minutes. Performers and hosts like Johnny Woo, Imelda May, the Broken Hearts, Toilet Disco, Russ Jones and some of Cuba’s finest brought both the cops and the house down.

We did a relaunch for Stolichnaya in the disused Odeon on Shepherd’s Bush Green, which took six months to develop. We needed 10 days to set it all up as props and everything had to be carried up the decommissioned escalator and down into the auditorium. We brought in the Leningrad Cowboys (rockabilly band) from Finland and the Red Army Choir from Russia (above), who marched into the theatre, down through the central aisle and on to the stage, in full regalia.

Hannah Swerling, Commissioning Editor

Last September I went to a party on the rooftop of the Shanghai Peninsular Hotel to celebrate 100 years of Moet & Chandon in China. The party was hosted by brand ambassador Scarlett Johansson and it was by far the most glamorous event I have ever been to. From the roof-top we had a heart-stopping view of the distinctive and beautiful Shanghai skyline. We drank lots of champagne that night but the most special was the 100- year -old vintage that was brought in by a procession of waiters carrying sparklers. Subtle – no; memorable – absolutely.

Anne Kapranos, PR and Events specialist

My best party was New Year's Eve 2003/4, when I was living in Edinburgh. We were all supposed to go and watch the Hogmanay concert beside Edinburgh Castle, but the whole party was cancelled due to gale-force winds. My brother Alex's band, Franz Ferdinand, were headlining, and suddenly had nowhere to play, so we piled back to a friend's student pad, chucked the bed against a wall and set up a makeshift stage. Instead of thousands of revellers, Franz played to a group of 20 students, and instead of champagne, we made do with cheap cider, but it was the best party I've ever been to.

Tim Knowles, Acting Picture Editor elleuk.com

I was in Berlin for New Year's Eve in 2007/8, and we had tickets for the biggest party in town at Panorama Bar. After three pre-party parties, we rocked up outside the impressive eastern- block era factory, where the bar is based, about an hour after midnight, and we didn't leave until after midnight on New Year's Day. The setting was incredible, as once you go through the queue and the cloakroom you are confronted by a massive atrium that stretches many floors up to the ceiling, with two gigantic stone staircases that cross each other, zig-zagging their way to the top. It's a club that encapsulates the liberal mindset of the city and is famous for its several parts, including a lively dance floor dedicated to the gay and lesbian scene, with beefy clubbers wearing leather chaps, pants and hats and not much else! On the main dancefloor they had electronic shutters that would open and close automatically on the hour, once night had become day, so when the daylight streamed in everyone would turn to the light, raise their arms in the air and whoop in appreciation. After a long hard night and day, followed by another night's worth of dancing, we finally left, bewildered in the falling snow, and made our way along what's left of the Berlin Wall to where we were staying in Kreuzberg.

Susan Ward Davies, Travel Editor

When I was 18 and hitchhiking through Europe, I ended up in Cannes for the Film Festival. My new French hitching buddy and I were sitting outside the Palais des Festivals one night, plotting how to gatecrash something fun, when a cool-looking Italian came over to ask if we’d like to be film extras in a party scene they were shooting. We were escorted to a speedboat, whisked over to a massive yacht, and plied with champagne and caviar. There didn’t seem to be any filming going on, just lots of beautiful people wafting around deck in the moonlight and lissome transvestites dancing on tables. As the sun rose, a fight broke out among the trannies over a missing camera, and we were all taken back to shore. Bizarre, but brilliant.

One of the annual Moet & Chandon extravaganzas was held in the Moet Chateau in Epernay, France. It kicked off with an elegant reception in the chateau's drawing room and gardens – all the women in long dresses and glittering jewellery - followed by an exquisite, zillion- course dinner for 100 (including Scarlett Johansson as guest of honour), laid out on a very long, candelabra -lit table, which ran the length of one of the narrow, low-ceilinged, wine vault tunnels. It was like a scene from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, totally magical.

I love dramatic venues and the Thomas Sabo party at The Shard, in mid-December, was amazing (the first, and possibly the last, to be held there). The top few floors were given over to DJs, live music and dancing, but the view, of course, stole the show - especially through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the loos.

Paula Goldstein, Fashion Director, Purple magazine

Picking a standout isn't easy, but I’d have to say our Purple Magazine NY Fashion Week parties have the most special memories. Our traditional blow-out at the top of the Standard hotel in New York always follows a fabulously eclectic dinner, which has seen the likes of Carine Roitfeld, Terry Richardson, DVF and Paris Hilton breaking bread together. Later, the slightly merry dinner crowd merges with downtown’s cool kids for a guaranteed hangover. And the best bits? Well, there was the year everyone ended up in the hot tub at Le Bain, http://standardhotels.com/high-line/food-drink/le-bain, after one of my best friends fell in while trying to walk nonchalantly past Kanye; or the moment DJ Mia Morretti played ‘Wild Thing’, which set off crowd surfing by girls more used to gracing the runway; or the mass frenzy when Alexander Skarsgard showed up.

Joely Walker, ELLE beauty

My best party was my sister’s wedding at Aynhoe Park, http://www.aynhoepark.co.uk/grand-tour, in Banbury, which we rented for the weekend. It was the most surreal and brilliant venue I’ve ever been to: a stuffed polar bear with a top hat, a stuffed giraffe with sunglasses, a circus room … Jade Jagger recently got married there and Kate Moss slept in one of the teepees outside. It’s owned by Ronnie Wood’s son, who has private parties there too, so it’s a really fun place.

Natalie Kyriacou, ELLE Collections SS13

Tucked away down a cobbled alley in Soho, one of London’s hottest night spots, The Box, www.theboxsoho.com, has nothing but a big black door opposite a sex shop to identify it. The night I went for a private party there was a stringent ‘no mask, no entry’ policy, and even the men in black on the door were sporting Zorro numbers. There were some serious outfits on show from a jewel-encrusted peacock mask dripping in heavy chains to kilt- wearing lace-clad bunnies in perspex heels. Sparklers fizzed around us as beautiful hostesses in Kiki de Montparnasse negligées poured champagne into your glass while you held the base in your mouth. The shows were incredible, intense and beautifully executed, from the bleeding Geisha hanging by her own knotted hair from the ceiling, to the BFG rainbow -slinky making its way through the crowd.

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