Friday, September 22, 2006

The Week That Was

This is becoming a bit of a habit - my lack of writing! Thanks for the e-mails people and I am sorry for not updating, but I am very busy. Busy is as busy does so here is a quick synopsis of the last couple of weeks …

One of the busiest social weeks all year, people are back from their hols and are out en force to catch up and swap stories. There were no less than 15 events on around the city in the last 10 days or so, with many high profile, tanned faces in attendance.

Despite talk of summer vacations, the rain poured on the evening that the lovely Elaine Byrne and the dapper Phillip Carton launched their exciting new project, The Collectors Club. Despite the rather inclement weather, the elegant receptions rooms of George’s of Baggot Street were packed, with Sinead Ryan, Norman Pratt, Ross Robertson and Louise Leahy among the guests. Byrne, who worked the room with style and ease, was most enthusiastic as she explained the concept to me. Whether you collect antiques, jewellery, cars, whatever, you should check it out.

Businessman and raconteur Harry Crosbie delivered a rousing speech about collecting. I for one didn’t know the passion this man has for Georgian furniture (and disdain for Victorian). Harry says that collecting is not about money and that shouldn’t stop anyone from indulging in the finer things in life. I couldn’t agree more Harry.

I paid my first visit to Rhodes D7 during the week too, as a guest of Tony Collins and Carmel O’Reilly of Top Flight. They were celebrating another bumper year with a new snow catalogue and super new collaborations with Austria.

TV presenter Alan Hughes was there, looking fresh after a recent trip to Slovenia. Publicist Aileen Eglington had been on the same trip but was looking a lot more rested. Alan, despite early morning (5am) starts, is also comparing the West Coast Cooler series of fashion extravaganzas that are currently taking place at a Radisson Hotel near you. Incidentally, Rhodes D7 is pretty good, though a bit too loud and bright for my liking.

Speaking of loud and bright, St. Julien, the shining lights in the stable of Sian Records, celebrated the launch of their debut single, Just Because, at a party in 4 Dame Lane. Formerly known as The Hoffman Affair, St. Julien, continue to hone their music style and deliver a tight and sharp sound. Their subsequent gig in the Sugar Club was sold out and their managers Andrew Wilkinson and Simon Rudd were delighted at the first round of what is set to be a long game.

Joy Everlasting. Doesn’t that just bring a smile to your face? Imagine then if that was your name. Joy! Everlasting! And your sister’s name is Love. Well that’s what the Hawkridge sisters, the owners of the popular Whetsone Hair Salon, are called. They hosted a very stylish party, with David Halpin, during the week to celebrate the launch of their latest venture, the Whetstone Aveda Lifestyle Salon, on South Anne Street.

The interior of the place is like something you’d see in World of Interiors. I wanted to live there. As did many of the other guests, who included Amanda Le Roux and Emmanuel Ray of Aveda (who flew in especially for the party), designers Helen Steele and Joanne Hynes, Christine Fredricks and restaurateur Charles Guildbaud.

From calmness and well being, to decadence and indulgence as I left the Whetstone Aveda party and popped into Jessica Walker’s do down at eaterie-du-jour, Fallon & Byrne (Colin Farrell and Kelly Osbourne were recent patrons). Jessica, a super sexy woman, has had her own range of delicious chocolates for years and has just launched her range here in Ireland. A premier brand (i.e. not available in your local supermarket), she’s got it right with her product and packaging. If the TV show Sex and the City were chocolate it would be Jessica Walker.

One of the most stylish events I’ve attended all year must be the Hermès party that was hosted in No.16 St. Stephens Green last week. Granted, you’d expect any party hosted by Hermès to be a stylish affair, but this one had a certain je nais se quoi.

Celebrating their association with the Horse photography exhibition by Koto Bolofo, Hermès were also delighted to be supporting the Ireland Fund. Outgoing Hermès MD for Ireland and the UK Charles Henri Leroy introduced his replacement, Florian Craen, who is looking forward to taking up his new role soon

Hugo McNeill of the Ireland Fund paid homage to the sterling Anglo – Irish Agreement work done by former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, who was in attendance with his elegant wife Kathleen. Poor Albert got a bit of a shock however, as we all did, when there was a sudden, loud and mysterious bang, which seemed to come from within the walls of the building. It didn’t steal his thunder though.

Among the great and the good enjoying the Louis Roderer champagne were Astrid Brennan, who definitely sported the best (real) tan in Dublin, Paddy Bollard, Uwe and Fiona Gratzer and architect Felim Dunne. Talk was of London Fashion Week with Sive O’Brien and Triona McCarthy both making plans for the hectic event, more of which later.

During the week I also popped into Paul Cadden’s fab new restaurant, Saba, on Clarendon Street. Paul knows what works (he’s formerly of the Diep group so he knows Thai food too). Among the diners I spotted were fashionistas Maria Fusco and Virginia Macari, John Brennan, PJ Gibbons, TV and radio presenter Taragh Loughrey – Grant and stylist Leone Amoré.

Sad as it may sound, I make no apologies for the thrill that I got from sitting in the Big Brother chair recently. The real Big Brother chair. The big, gold, very comfortable chair that made an appearance at the huge Carphone Warehouse 10th birthday party last week.

You see, I really am easily pleased.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More Electric Picnic

Basement Jaxx enjoy the hospitality of the Bacardi B-Live VIP area at Electric Picnic.

Olwen McAuliffe and MTV presenter DP Fitzgerald backstage in the Bacardi B-Live VIP area of Electric Picnic.

Triona McCarthy and Paul Trainer backstage at the Bacardi B-Live VIP area at Electric Picnic.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kitchen Con

The well-attended launch party for Trevor White’s first book was a testament to the popular man that he is. Milling around Thornton’s restaurant in the Fitzwilliam Hotel, guests were eager to get a first look at Kitchen Con, the first book from the inimitable publisher / writer.

In Kitchen Con, Trevor lifts the lid on, as he puts it, “the restaurant racket”. And he’s well qualified to do so. His family ran a hugely successful restaurant on St. Stephen’s Green (Whites on the Green, if my memory serves me correctly) in Dublin for many years. He became a restaurant critic at the tender age of 18, has eaten all around the world and now publishes the best selling annual Top 100 Guide in Ireland in conjunction with his successful magazine, The Dubliner.

Among the guests feasting on the delicious canapés prepared by Kevin Thornton’s Michelin Starred kitchen were writer Eamon Delaney, Gavin Friday and Amanda Brunker. Style queen Sonia Reynolds was with her legal eagle hubby Barry Lyons, relaxing after a hectic few weeks with Dublin Fashion Week.

Some of the other guests in attendance included Quentin Fottrell, Aoife O’Reilly, the dashing Michael O’Doherty, Roisin Tierney – Crowe, Ulick O’Connor and Helen Lucey Burke. Bombay Sapphire provided the potent martinis and Harvey Nicks did the goodie bags, rounding off a most successful launch (for those in London there was round two at Bentley’s Oyster Bar the following evening).

NYC publisher John Ryan, did the honours on the evening, during a week in which he himself was riding high on the publicity front – a documentary, a Late Late show appearance and countless column inches. Luckily he didn’t manage to steal Trevor’s limelight but made a witty speech in which he regaled the guests with made-up “facts” about Trevor.

One true fact about Trevor is that he’s written a highly entertaining, engaging and educating book; one that, if you’ve ever eaten out in your life, you’ll find of interest.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Westin!

Lisa Murphy and I enjoy the Casino Royale party in celebration of the Westin hotel's 5th birthday.

The luxurious Westin hotel on Dublin’s College Green celebrated it’s 5th birthday recently with a magnificent 005 Casino Royale evening. The glamour stakes were high with the invited guests looking every inch the high rollers they are.

The hotel’s General Manager Enda Mullin welcomed guests in the breathtaking Banking Hall, where all enjoyed champagne and a selection of delicious lime and blueberry flavoured martinis - shaken not stirred, natch - courtesy of Ketel-One vodka.

Upon entry guests were presented with $1000 to splash out on the gambling tables, where competition was tough to secure the highest winning position in order to win one of the many super prizes up for grabs with celebrations in the hotel’s Mint Bar later that night.

Marisa Mackle, whose latest book Manhunt has just hit the shelves, attended and looked stunning in a pale blue dress. Marisa’s long-time pal, fashion stylist Roxanne Parker was also there with her boyfriend James. 2FM DJ Ruth Scott, model Lisa Murphy, Peter Keenan and Frances Winston, Elaine Byrne and Fair City’s Tatiana Ouliankina and Yuri Stepanov (who play brother and sister Lana and Sergei) were also among the stylish crew who enjoyed the evening.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Electric Picnic 06

It was a rainy start to my Electric Picnic experience when I eventually arrived on Saturday evening, but it did nothing to dampen my spirits. Thankfully there were no tents to be pitched as the group I was with had set up camp in a terrific location at the Artist Camping zone backstage the previous day. And it was only when I ventured to the main camping areas that I realised how lucky we were with our location (in case you’re wondering, it took me 20mins to walk from stage to the yellow camping zone, not to mention navigating the assault course of tents).

Due to my late arrival I missed pretty much half of the festival (Anthony Hegarty of Anthony and The Johnsons and PJ Harvey), but on the upside I also missed the gale force winds that battered the site the night before. I guess it kept everyone festival fit if anything else.

I didn’t see that many performances to be honest, but Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx, the Bodytonic arena, New Order and the Pet Shop Boys were all pretty memorable. I also managed to catch highlights from Abie Philbin-Bowman's hit satire “Jesus: The Guantanamo Years” which was on at the popular Leviathan tent. The Bacardi B-Live area was pumping at all times with great sets from Disconauts and IG Culture among other top acts.

Backstage in the Bacardi B-Live VIP area I spotted George McMahon, MTV presenter DP Fitzgerald, singer Jeanette Cronin, Niall McCrudden, Channel 6’s Taragh Loughrey – Grant, David Cavanagh and Richie Stokes.

The place to be though was the VIP area, with its massive marquee, comfy beanbags, full bar, outdoor seating and covered balcony which looked on to the main stage. In times of rain this was the place to take refuge. Some of the faces there included Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kelly Osbourne and her boyfriend Matty Derham, Louis Walsh, Nadine Wai – O’Flynn, Sinead Ryan and Malachy Geelan, Naoise and Ashley Nunn, actress Bronagh Gallagher, Norman Pratt, Tom Dunne and TV star Lucy Kennedy.

David McWilliams was with his wife Sian, after a hectic day hosting at the Leviathan marquee. Triona McCarthy, Bubble Hits presenter Liam McKenna, publicist Andrea Horan, TV chef Andrew Rudd, Lee Walsh, James Hyland, Anna Lavery and Paul McGuinness were also among the VIP guests.

Monday morning came all too soon though and there is no such thing as a lie-in when umpteen trucks arrive to dismantle tonnes of equipment. As I strolled around the grounds one last time, met by a small army of people whose job it was to erase all sign of Electric Picnic from the Stradbally Estate, I thought of what a magnificent weekend it had been.

Electric Picnic was voted best music festival in Europe last year. I hope there’s a bigger award for it to win this year – best in the world maybe?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hollyoaks stars Carly Stenson and Andrew Moss were special guests at the recent TV3 party in Spirit.

TV3 launch new schedule

TV3, Ireland’s first independent television channel, once again pulled out all the stops to launch their latest season of programming. At a party hosted in Spirit recently, guests were treated to a glimpse of what TV3 has to offer in its forthcoming schedule.

From the US come new shows JERICHO, a dramatic, stylish and scary new drama - a nuclear bomb has destroyed most of America and a small Kansas town must get to grips with a new kind of reality. From Warner come some of the strongest titles in years with NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY, an engaging thirty-something comedy and SMITH, executive-produced by John Wells of ER fame, a very powerful crime drama with a great cast including Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen. A real treat is in store with STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP from the West Wing stable, a funny and really poignant tale about the world of television starring Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford as the maverick writer / producer team.

The soaps return in force to entertain their legions of fans with BAFTA award-winner and Ireland's most popular soap CORONATION STREET, EMMERDALE the fastest growing soap on Irish television, HEARTBEAT and its hugely successful spin off THE ROYAL and TV3 will be airing in the early evening from October the award-winning and very popular soap HOLLYOAKS.

Joining TV3 faces such as Mark Cagney, Lorraine Keane (who's looking great in the late stages of expectancy) and Martin King at the party were Louis Walsh, Eleanor Cullen, Keith Duffy, Phina Oruche of Footballers Wives, Debbie O’Donnell and Hollyoaks stars Carly Stenson and Andrew Moss.

Oh, and there’s a great homegrown show in store too. Picture a Dublin location at night and a large floating glass block illuminated from within - this is home twenty four hours a day for the contestants in THE BOX, TV3's brand new million plus reality quiz show. Two players go head to head throughout the day. By the end of the night one will be ejected. The winner can go on to collect an unlimited cash prize. Close friendships will be formed and bitter rivalries developed.

There will also be some celebrity guests and lots of surprises! Every morning live on Ireland AM, Alan Hughes will give 3 lucky contestants the chance to battle it out and the winner will go into the box that night and take on the reigning champion. Viewers will be able to register through a dedicated phone number and on the TV3 website. Viewers will also have the opportunity to play the game from home. Presented by Keith Duffy, THE BOX will run every night for three weeks in the autumn starting in October.

Keith Duffy and Phina Oruche at the TV3 party in Spirit recently.