The Golden Gavel. May 2013.

Dear Rowley,

When Carine Roitfeld promises a ‘beyond over the top and beyond one of a kind collection that will go down in history and never be available again’ she isn’t just whistling Dixie. The audience at amfAR’s 20th anniversary gala auction at the Hôtel du Cap were treated to an orgy of gold that could have costumed one of Cecil B. DeMille’s Biblical epics and a spectacular collection of contemporary gold jewellery commissioned by Love Gold. As I told you in my last letter, Riotfeld had invited designers such as Lanvin, Michael Kors, Tom Ford, Vionnet, Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci and Giambattista Valli to create one-off golden gowns for her 38-piece Ultimate Gold Collection Fashion Show to be auctioned as a single lot on the night of 1000 stars in Cannes.

Only a truly great stylist can spin layer-upon-layer of gold into looks that do justice to the gowns and the jewels. So opulent were some of the dresses that only the purest, strongest jewellery design could compete. Unsurprisingly the cuff proved to be the victorious piece of jewellery when allowed to shine on bare arms. Hilat’s 24k yellow gold knot cuff was outstanding as modelled by Toni Garrn in a liquid gold Vionnet asymmetric dress falling from one shoulder with a split skirt floating like the petals of a gilded flower.

There was a collective swoon as gap-toothed lovely Jessica Hart danced down the runway in a darling Giambattista Valli floral lamé mini prom dress and Hoorsenbuhs 18k yellow gold bar bracelet while Marine Deleeuw shimmered in a Michael Kors gold goddess dress and House of Waris 18k yellow gold cuffs. The Waris cuffs, christened ‘Love Between the Shadow and Soul’, were crafted in a layered honeycomb of 18k yellow gold giving sculptural depth and dimension.

Riotfeld played an arpeggio with tones of gold that allowed exceptional jewels to take centre stage. Eddie Borgo’s punk-inspired 18k yellow gold cuffs – a cage of interwoven studded and spiked circlets – was more than equal to Versace’s va-va-voom gold and silver fringe mini dress modelled by Izabel Goulart. In contrast Rick Owens’ dull gold column dress worn by Lisa Verberight was the perfect foil for Wright & Teague’s outstanding African tribal-inspired golden armlets. A personal favourite piece was Chanel’s sharp, chic gold bouclé pencil skirt suit accessorised with Anndra Neen’s utterly desirable 18k gold cage clutch purse.

This being ‘fashion’, there were moments of wild abandon when less was clearly a bore for Riotfeld and she took gold to the max. Anna Dello Russo made a cameo appearance whirling like a dervish in Pucci’s silk brocade belted mini dress sending Pucci designer Peter Dundas into paroxysms of glee. Dello Russo rocked gold Tom Ford gladiator boots, a pillbox hat and gold shades that entirely eclipsed the gold, diamond and emerald Bulgari Serpenti watch/bracelets on her wrist. With so much madness in on outfit, one couldn’t have been more surprised if Riotfeld had coiled a real serpent round Dello Russo’s wrist.

Karlie Kloss was the calm after Hurricane Dello Russo when she wafted between the front row tables in a serene hooded Maharani gown designed by Tarun Tahiliani; Azva’s 24k gold, diamond and pearl Seven Flowers necklace draped as a regal headpiece in her upswept chignon. When gemstones did appear in the Ultimate Gold Collection they were employed as accents to compliment complex gold work. A light scattering of diamonds adorned Ofira’s 18k yellow gold leaf motif bracelet (worn by Lily Donaldson in Gucci’s floor-length show stopper) while sliced diamond windowpanes embellished Coomi’s 20k Aztec-inspired bangle modelled by Katharina Damm wearing L’Wren Scott’s brocade cocktail dress.

The finale saw a full line-up of the golden girls on the amfAR stage as Sharon Stone made her inimitable entrance to auction the dresses. The speech bubble above her head would have read ‘I used to be snow white but I drifted’. Vamping like Mae West in I’m No Angel, Miss Stone intoned ‘the winner will get to take home all of these beautiful dresses, all of these suits…and not one of these models’. Despite offering to throw-in her Cavalli dress and go home in a tablecloth (not for the first time apparently), the Ultimate Gold Collection auction winner spared Miss Stone’s blushes and won the lot for a hammer price of 1.2 million Euros. The grand total on the night was $25 million.

Where one can go either spiritually, financially or geographically after a $25 million gala dinner and auction? It seemed all 900 guests decided to accept amfAR’s invitation to the midnight after party in the Eden Roc pavilion. I took the starlit walk across the Hôtel du Cap gardens and thanks to the Love Gold Massive was whisked through to the VIP rooms overlooking the poolside terrace. In the great tradition of the Hôtel du Cap’s glamorous past, what happened at the Eden Roc stays at the Eden Roc. Suffice to say I didn’t end up being thrown overboard from Roberto Cavalli’s yacht or dragged screenplay in hand away from Harvey Weinstein’s table yowling ‘this one’s going to make you’.