Friday, 6 September 2013

Walk With Me In Wonderland

What's your regular Tuesday night like? Sweating it out in the gym in your dad's old t-shirt (actually, gym? Who am I kidding?)? Heading home to attack the laundry and scale the mountain of ironing? If it's near the beginning of the month, perhaps a surf of the internet and a shop-a-thon of shoes that you really don't need?

That's pretty much my standard early weekday vacuous evening. Slightly happier than post the doom of Monday, but it's not quite the Wednesday where the end of the week is in sight. This week, however, was a total break from the norm. This week, the neon stilettos were slipped on, extra eyeliner ringed my baby blues and I headed to Alice's Wonderland.

Joined by my adventurous accomplices, Sam Bawden, founder of Cheltenham Fashion Week (2nd - 7th Dec) and Louise Lowdell of House of Pandora vintage fame we leapt in my post-Feastival filthy car to drive to Aynhoe Park for an evening with Matthew Williamson. The sun lit up the Cotswolds, Radio 1 didn't let us down with some evening serenades and we all had a chance to talk fashion and gossip. 

I have always wanted to disappear down the rabbit hole of madness which is Aynhoe. It is the single most beautiful house in Oxfordshire, which easily steals the show in any fashion shoot and even stands the bride up at the many weddings they host here. This interior hasn't been designed; it's been curated. And like Sonnet Stanfill at the V&A, James Perkins (previous life incarnation as the club and rave promoter to know) has an incredible eye which has transformed Aynhoe into an eclectic shrine to the bygone days of the stately house parties, where people came for a summer solstice and didn't leave until the Christmas decorations had come down. 

And one of the bedrooms in this beautiful home – and venue – has just had an overhaul. In fact it looks like this boudoir rocked up at one of James' raves and was doused in a riot of rainbows and dance music. This is courtesy of the maestro of colour himself, Matthew Williamson. From the Osborne and Little songbirds romantically covering the walls to the pops of neon edging the cushions; from the quintessential Williamson peacock feathers adorning the bathroom to the sell-my-grandmother-for silk dresses hanging in the closet, this room would still have sunshine on a seriously cloudy day. I'd love to show you pictures but a magazine had the exclusive - I'll wait 'til I invite myself back and stay next time. 

James took us for a tour of other rooms featuring naked photographs of Kate Moss – she's stayed here pretty often – taxidermy cheetahs and polar bears, neon chandeliers, stone statues which rival the Elgin Marbles and art to take your breath away. And the stories that would be whispered if these walls could talk; I'm sure even I would blush. It's mad and over the top but totally liveable – James and his partner Sophie are undoubtedly artists with an extraordinary eye and a wonderful bonhomie that is incredibly welcoming and impossibly cool. 

After champagne and enjoying the last of the August sunshine, 30 of us stayed for supper at a great long table in the orangery overlooked by three huge glitterballs and a unicorn. I told you it was magical. 
I couldn't have been less Williamson-attired in my leather trousers, black silk shirt and just-got-off-a-tour-bus hair, but I don't think it held me back fitting in too much. I bonded with Tuli, Matthew's model who was initially dressed in beautiful fuchsia pink but with her rough-n-tough boots keeping her cool and pretty. Discussing the direction of Matthew's latest collection, it seems he's rocking up his aesthetic and featuring some more tailoring. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he'll also feature some boobs too so I can wear his beautiful prints and inject some of Ibiza into my wardrobe – even if I'm not going to make it to the actual white isle this year. And the Mancunian Matthew was just  gorgeous, so warm and bitchily funny, I just wanted to curl up in a corner with him and laugh (decidedly non-poorvo).

And so the evening dissipated into madness, trying on Matthew's hot-hued clothes (his dresses obviously, not his actual pants), disappearing into the darkness of the basement Club and defiantly requesting Beyonce to dance around to. I could tell you more, but then that's not very Aynhoe. See, we don't kiss and tell there...
Suffice to say, it was unbelievably glamorous. And a much better Tuesday night workout then hitting the gym.

We also had fab goodie bags with vouchers for Matthew Williamson's pop up boutique at Bicester Village, so guess what I'm doing this weekend...

With huge thanks to Sam at Cheltenham Fashion Week for having me as her plus one (and check out her Phone Book Interview with me here) and James and Sophie at Aynhoe.

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