In the excitement of recent weeks, I entirely forgot to send you dispatches from the historic Gold: Power and Allure exhibition at the Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City. La Farmer invited me to the private view. Went, Suzy Menkes, the Wright & Teague Massive and a young lady working for the World Gold Council who bore an uncanny resemblance to HM The Queen as a young gel. It was the smile that made her the spit.
I don’t think there has been an exhibition celebrating the history of British gold quite as spectacular in a generation: over 400 pieces and not one of them less than an absolute thrill to witness. Having voiced a fashion and jewels salon show at the Goldsmiths’ a couple of years ago, I’m fortunate to be friendly with the A-team there: Mr Dyson, Amanda and David Mills who, incidentally, is laying them in the aisles with his stand-up comedy career.
Paul gave the guided tour to pieces he knew I would covet for the vaults in Bloomsbury Towers. The most bewitching pieces for me were the coronet made for the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) to be crowned at his Investiture. When The King abdicated in 1936, he took the coronet with him into exile with his future Duchess claiming the piece was personal not Crown property. It was a rare treat to see such a thing of great beauty and provenance.
The royal gold – coins of the realm (some brought up with the Tudor shipwreck of the Mary Rose), rings containing the hair of Bloody Mary Tudor, reliquaries from the Chequers collection containing a piece of the bloodstained shirt of the beheaded King Charles I – is quite simply magical.
The oldest gold on display dated from 2500 BC. I adore Medieval twisted gold torques and beaten gold inula neckpieces dated 1500 BC. Equally thrilling was the gold ampula with which the sovereign is anointed with holy oil at the Coronation, a collection of gold and diamond-set snuff boxes and various chalices from palaces and gold chains of office.
The sweetest piece on display was a gold mechanical mouse encrusted with pearls that could have amused Mr Brummell and his Body Dandiacal at the dinner/gaming tables of White’s Club circa 1810. Where many exhibitions fall down is bringing the story of design and craftsmanship up to date. Not so Gold: Power and Allure. Contemporary pieces designed by London’s great goldsmiths such as Smith & Harris, Polly Gasston and Wright & Teague were commissioned especially for the exhibition.
Gasston’s ivy leaf and buttercup gold tiara was modelled by quite the most wraithlike model who could have stepped out of a Burne-Jones portrait. Wright and Teague’s gold neck piece was tribal, bold and brave work. Do go and see the show as a matter of urgency. You will not see the like again in this lifetime.
Trotters firmly up on the daybed in Bloomsbury Towers this afternoon. London is being lashed by monsoon conditions and I’d spent the best part of the weekend schlepping stiffie invitations to our Savile Row/Burlington Arcade cocktail party around Mayfair and St. James’s. So I felt no guilt whatsoever in watching the final set of the Nadal/Djokovich French Open final. Raffa won the day and collapsed to his knees like Pinocchio on steroids after his strings had been cut.
I had a lovely call from Paddy Power who were always my favourite bookies at Royal Ascot. They were inquiring about a spot of fashion pre-records for this year’s Royal Meeting. Sadly I’m in Florence for Pitti Uomo and there wasn’t time to fly to Dublin for the filming. Shame really because I’ve always loved Dublin ever since the days over a decade ago when I spent a lot of time there with the eternally glamorous Louise Kennedy at her Merrion Square Georgian townhouse and with her equally hilarious sister Caroline.
Rather fed up of an epidemic of self-pity in the British press at present. First we have Speaker Bercow calling criticism of his lady love Sally ‘the Alley’ Bercow sexist as if all critics are pernicious old Tories who think women belong only in the kitchen and bedroom. Like, for example, Prime Minister Cameron perhaps whose wife Samantha is creative director of Smythson and who is largely responsible for it being a multi-million pound global fashion brand. Or Chancellor Osborne’s wife the best-selling novelist. Or even Michael Gove’s wife the highly paid newspaper columnist.
In the la-la politically correct land, any criticism can be converted into self-pity with cries of sexism, racism, homophobia, fat-phobia or bullying. Mrs Bercow puts herself out there on Twitter daily – if not, as in her past, in the loos of All Bar (N)one. Similarly woefully brass and crass BBC Diamond Jubilee presenter Fearne Cotton claiming critics of her truly dreadful performance as bullying.
It’s terribly easy to bleat and Tweet these days; excusing inadequacy or simply a very poor show with prejudice or cyber trolling. I recall a truly ghastly text sent to me after a jolly good day’s work for the BBC at Royal Ascot saying how I just stank on ice and how much I was hated by ‘the family X’. I texted back to the family X saying they had confirmed my terribly low opinion of myself and I fully intended to jump off Waterloo Bridge that very evening. You put yourself in the public eye and you’ve got to expect the social networking loons to put you in the stocks. And, of course, you have to develop the hyde of a rhino.