|The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park: it's fancy and it smells Isfarkand-y.|
One of the traditional perks of fashion editors is the promotional event: a lavish party celebrating milestones (or even just milepebbles) in the journey of a style or beauty brand. Of course, the more seasoned the editor, the less perky these perks come to seem, which leads to the kind of P.T. Barnum approach we saw with Stella McCartney's fête/runway show/magic display/dance performance/fabulosity extravaganza the other night at London Fashion Week.
With style bloggers now part of (and in many cases, directing) the conversation, the promosexual lifestyle is swallowing up digital publishers, too. Which is fine by me, because I'm still unjaded enough to consider these swanky little meet'n'greets with champagne and petit fours a “social life”. A social life peppered with interesting and talented people you wouldn't necessarily run into at the supermarket. (Although recently I was almost run over by cult comedy writer Laura Kightlinger outside my local Gelson's in LA.)
My first promosexual event since I touched down in London last week was the launch of Ormonde Jayne's Isfarkand bath line as the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park's signature in-room toiletries. A coup for Ormonde Jayne, and a nice match for the London branch of the five-star hotel, who sought to burnish their British location with a best-of-Britain perfume brand. But as we sipped our Ormonde Jayne cocktails (gin, rose water, orange bitters, cardamom and lime syrup), OJ perfumer Linda Pilkington fretted at the word “toiletries”, finding it a bit déclassé. “Maybe 'amenities' would be better?” she offered. “'Hotel amenities',” I mused. “Sounds like prostitutes.” The Mandarin Oriental manager shot me a look. “What are you going to be like after a second cocktail?” he muttered under his breath.
“Well-behaved” was the answer, because the group immediately sat down to a fancy-pants meal of saffron risotto with scallops in orange sauce, followed by a mandarin parfait dolled up with lime dacquise and chocolate bergamot coulis. This was the chefs' edible interpretation of Isfarkand, although a loose one, as there is no shellfish to be found in the scent, obviously. As we dined, Linda began to detail her special history with the Mandarin Oriental. I ventured a guess: “You lost your virginity here?” (Boy, that Ormonde Jayne cocktail sure was packing a punch.) Sadly, the reality is somewhat more tame: she became besotted with the luxury hotel after a chance cup of tea in the Hong Kong location 25 years ago.
For anyone seeking to enjoy a cup of tea -- or indeed, lose their virginity -- at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, don't miss the limey, woody, peppery pep of Isfarkand, which is carried through shower gel, bar soap, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion.