My Fair Ladies June 2011

Dear Rowley,

Don’t you feel for the Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner who, it seems, has been caught out ‘Sexting’ pictures of various body parts – not bad as it happens – to ¬†random ladies? One almost feels the chap was fated from birth hence the New York Post headlines ‘Weiner exposed’ and ‘Hide the Weiner’. Taking a lead from the Duchess of York, Mr Weiner appeared at a press conference weeping like Niobe and throwing himself on the mercy of the American public. Good luck! I always think the most dignified response when life throws a kipper at you is to emulate the late Queen Mother: never complain, never explain.

I fear many more people in and out of the public eye will be caught in the silken trap of the world wide web. Sexting is, I fear, endemic. We’ve all had friends who, when ostensibly showing us a picture of their gardens/boyfriends/puppies on the iPhone, mistakenly go one picture too far and up pops something you don’t see every day unless you’re a professional or a very lucky fellow. It does make one laugh that there’s so much righteous anger about airports introducing full body scanners when it seems the world is exchanging happy snaps of their nether regions on an hourly basis.

On to more savoury subjects. Did you see the cover of The Times today? Debbie Reynolds has finally announced the sale of star lots from her Hollywood costume collection. Once again, Marilyn Monroe (wearing the white Seven Year Itch’ subway dress) makes the front pages. I had a butchers at the online catalogue (click onto Profiles in History) and am simply dumbstruck that one of the world’s many billionaires doesn’t make Miss Reynolds an offer for the whole collection and fulfil her dream of a Hollywood Costume Museum in LA. Sad we never sealed the deal to show the star lots at the Savoy last month.

Equally sad to see Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot Scene ensemble designed by Cecil Beaton for My Fair Lady will be under the hammer on Royal Ascot Friday when there was a distinct chance we could have secured it to be shown at the Tercentennial Royal Meeting. But there isn’t much point in ‘what ifs?’ I am looking forward to signing Fashion at Royal Ascot at the Royal next Wednesday even if not being by my fair lady Suzi Perry’s side for the BBC fashion coverage. Still, I was greatly cheered when my friend Mr Bowering sent me his latest cartoon entitled ‘standards are slipping’. I took a snap of it for you darling.

Talking about people being fated, I’ve enclosed a picture of an Edwardian Dolton figurine that used to stand on my grandmother’s mantlepiece way back when. It always fascinated me and inspired my early love for fashion. It’s title? Lady Ascot. The figurine now stands on my windowsill in Bloomsbury Towers contemplating a reproduction of the Medici Vase that I picked up on a visit to Chatsworth House a couple of years ago. The Veiled Lady ¬†pictured is not, contrary to popular belief, a maquette for the Sherwood mausoleum. It is a bust I have acquired from It’s All Greek for the Savoy’s Maria Callas Signature Suite.

I’ve been in touch with Pete Millard, the Savoy’s art consultant, and we’re going to have a pow-wow about adding some new artworks to the Callas Suite at the Savoy. He commissioned a super pastel drawing of La Divina for the bathroom but it arrived too late for the 10.10.10. opening. It is lovely to revisit a project and make improvements that you know will enhance the magic of the Savoy immeasurably.

For the record, I think we can still swing a Hollywood costume display at the Savoy with or without the Reynolds collection. There’s already a buzz about the Victoria & Albert Museum Hollywood Dress exhibit pencilled-in for 2012. It is always nice to ride the zeitgeist as the drama critic said to the chorus boy.

You remember I had a cocktail with the lovely Amber at The Ritz a couple of days ago after I’d returned from Menorca. She commented that my mini break sounded so much better than a ghastly hen party she was obliged to attend in Ibiza. Imagine being admonished by your fellow maids of honour for not drinking and dancing enough. The conversation went along the lines of ‘it’s Shona’s last night of freedom and she doesn’t want you spoiling it by drinking water and wanting to be in bed before 5am’ accompanied by fierce gestures with a bottle of Tequila.

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that stag parties have got so much more dignified in recent years – shooting party weekends, grooming days at chi-chi spas or civilised dinners in the cellars of Berry Brothers & Rudd on St James’s Street – while hen parties seem to descend to Bacchanalian revels not considered a success unless the bride to be has drunk her body weight in Cava, flashed her knickers at a dozen strangers and posed provocatively with a male stripper called Derek from Barnsley who is slathered in more baby oil than the Aix En Valdise.

Mrs T has made the observation that she aspires to be Lady Bracknell when she grows up. Well, darling, I’ll race her to it. Lady Bracknell has to be one of the most misunderstood characters in English literature. As Wilde writes her and Dame Edith Evans plays her, Lady B is a great wit born to the purple and fully aware that her social status allows her to say the wickedest things with no fear of reproach. My favourite line is Lady Bracknell’s observation that a newly widowed Duchess’s hair had gone ‘quite golden with grief’. You have to love a woman who can call the French Revolution ‘that unfortunate incident’. There’s more darling, there’s lots more…