“Ah, the rocks begin!” exclaimed actress Joanna Lumley on her way into the the Victoria & Albert Museum’s glittering “Tiaras” exhibition on its opening night nearly two weeks ago. Earlier that evening, Lumley paid homage to the tiara during the cocktail party to kick off the show, which runs until July 14.
“Tiaras are not elitist! They’re egalitarian,” said Lumley — best known to Americans as Patsy from “Absolutely Fabulous” — during a pithy speech to guests gathered in the museum’s entrance hall. “They’re not just for the Royal Family and for grand occasions,” she continued. “Wearing one is like putting on a halo.”
The exhibition features tiaras ranging from the “Oriental Circlet” designed by Prince Albert and worn by Queen Victoria to one designed by Slim Barrett and worn by another Victoria — Posh Spice — when she wed David Beckham. Guests, many of whom loaned their own tiaras for the exhibition, included Camilla Parker Bowles, Viscount Linley, Prince Aleksandar of Yugoslavia, Vivienne Westwood, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duchess of Devonshire and Robin Hambro.
Parker Bowles was given an impromptu private tour before the other guests were let in, unleashing a flood of fury in the local press. She called the display “absolutely wonderful.”
A few days later, Liberty, the 126-year-old London retailer, celebrated its $15 million facelift with a cocktail party at the Regent Street store, which now boasts new departments for fragrances, shoes, lingerie and men’s wear. Guests, all of whom were given $75 vouchers to spend that night, included Helena Bonham Carter and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.
“I just can’t wait to spend my voucher,” said Palmer-Tomkinson, dragging her boyfriend Anton Bilton away from the canapes and into the lingerie department. “But there’s no hope of my spending just the voucher. I’ll put it toward something more expensive.”