Clinton seems to have found her groove in England — not to mention the Continent. And we’re not talking about cream teas with Dad at Oxford’s Randolph Hotel.
So far, her most high-profile moment has been front-row at Versace’s couture show in Paris 12 days ago, alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna. She may have wowed everyone with her new straight hairstyle and dramatic eye makeup, but the Versace appearance was simply the tip of Clinton’s glittering social iceberg. Over the past two months, the Oxford “fresher” has been slipping in and out of London to play with Paul McCartney and his fiancee, Heather Mills; Bono; former Boyzone singer Ronan Keating, and Bianca Jagger.
Clinton, who’s doing a graduate degree in international relations and belongs to her father’s alma mater University College — or Univ, as it’s known — is also in with the London theater crowd. Sally Greene, chief executive of the Old Vic Theatre, is a new pal who lets her hang out backstage and chat with the actors.
And she’s doing her share of restaurant and club crawling: She’s been spotted at the media and actors’ watering hole the Groucho Club, as well as in the members-only basement of Noble Rot in London. Most recently, the paparazzi snapped her outside the seedy-but-popular gay nightclub Heaven in Charing Cross.
It’s no surprise, then, that she’s landed on Tatler’s annual Top Ten Girls list, coming in at number five after Sophie Dahl, Jessica de Rothschild, Kate Winslet and Zara Phillips.
The beauty of it all is that none of it appears to be going to her neatly coiffed head.
“She’s so friendly, sweet and adorable and has that seductive quality like her father,” says decorator-about-town and now party reporter Nicky Haslam, who first met Clinton backstage after a performance of “Over the Moon” at the Old Vic. “And she’s so pretty when she smiles. It’s like headlights going on in the room.”
Chelsea-watchers say her closest circle of friends is more the intellectual type than hard-driving party-goers — including friend (but not boyfriend) Ian Klause. And while she can hang out with celebrities, she’s no slave to them. “She’s no star chaser,” said Haslam.
She even appeals to the Oxford locals. Instead of taking offense at Clinton’s complaints last fall about the anti-American feeling at Oxford, a new local radio station, Fusion 107.9 FM, held a “Cheer Up Chelsea” day this month.
“We knew she wasn’t happy, and we wanted to do something, so we devoted a day to her, announcing all the events going on here and giving her advice on how to get along with the English,” says Susann Smith, the director of Fusion. “The English can have a strange, ‘Fawlty Towers’ sense of humor, and we tried to explain that to her.”
Since then, Fusion has been devoting regular chunks of airtime to the young Clinton. After she appeared at the Versace show with her slick, spaghetti-straight hair, the station questioned the practicality of her new look, said Smith.
“We discussed the fact that with all the wind and rain here at Oxford, that new hairstyle might not last.”