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Fine China

Lynn Wyatt’s birthday bash.

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You could set your calendar by it — and a lot of folks along the Riviera do. Every July 16, at her villa on the high cliffs above the Mediterranean port of Beaulieu, Lynn Wyatt has a party.

“Lynn is the only woman I know who celebrates her birthday every year,” said Joan Collins, an annual presence. “Very brave.”

This story first appeared in the July 21, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Not that anyone ever asks exactly which birthday is being celebrated. All they ask is the theme. This year, it was Chinoiserie. Some guests, such as Nan Kempner, went for imperial splendor. Olga of Greece was more Japanese-y, but close enough. Peter Watson and Catherine Palmer had a more contemporary edge. They donned surgical masks — and called themselves SARS exiles.

Just as darkness fell, a last guest arrived: a black-haired Madame Butterfly manqué, dressed in flowing tangerine robes.

“You do not know who this is?” she inquired of her hostess, fluttering a fan just below her strangely familiar eyes.

“And I didn’t,” reported Wyatt later at the dinner table. “Then she batted those gorgeous double lashes — bling, bling — and I knew. It had to be Lily.”

So it was that Lily Safra had walked into the party totally unrecognized, in a 20-year-old Madame Grès ensemble topped with a two-week-old silk brocade belt from Shanghai Tang.

Wyatt also got a dose of the real bling-bling — call it Shanghai bling — as any birthday girl should. During the dessert course, David Furnish’s phone rang.

“There’s only one person this can be,” he said, passing it to Wyatt.

“I don’t be-leeeve it!” she cried out. It was Elton John, out on tour, calling to sing “Happy Birthday,” in French. Then he wanted to know if she had opened her present yet.

Wyatt hadn’t, but she tore back the paper — “I’m breaking three nails,” she teased — and found a little box from every woman’s favorite florist, Cartier.

Inside was a sparkling Chinese pagoda ring.

“Chin-oi-se-rie!” she cried out. “For my Chinoiserie party. I love it.”

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