Light my fire

If you want to be at the centre of everything hip and happening, there’s only one place to be, says Rebecca Newman – right here

There aren’t many certainties in the world today, but one thing’s for sure. In the words of Paris Hilton: London is hot. Smoking, in fact.

The strength of the euro and the dollar have brought fashion tourists to our shops. Sophisticates from Paris, Berlin and New York are fighting for designs by Preen, Christopher Kane, Marios Schwab, PPQ and the like.

Love them or hate them, the Young British Offspring – Pixie (and sometimes) Peaches Geldof, Lizzie and Georgia May Jagger, Daisy Lowe, Jaime Winstone, Lily and Alfie Allen – have inherited their parents’ cool. Go to Punk, The Diner in Shoreditch or Bungalow 8 and they’ll be there, with a streak of Hollywood at their heels. In fact, the last time I ran into Pixie, bless her, she was the one at ankle level: after one too many cocktails in Bungalow, she wound up landing on the ground at my feet. Somehow, she carried it off.

We’re even exporting. London favourite Cecconi’s opened a second branch in LA just in time for the Oscars – and on the night itself was the most happening spot in town. I had a drink with Martin Brudnizki, its interior designer, on the top floor of the Ivy Club (also styled by him, along with Scotts and Corrigans – the list goes on) and he told me that it was quite a party. And he’s not easily impressed. I know where I’ll be for Oscars 2010.

Martin’s now working on another London export: one of the capital’s best restaurants, Le Caprice, is to open a sister branch this autumn in New York, at the Pierre Hotel. If they manage to infuse the Big Apple Caprice with half the charisma of the Mayfair one then they’re on to a winner. The irreverent, twinkling and charming Jeremy King has already scored a hit there with the Monkey Bar, taking the elements we adore at the Wolseley and giving them a Manhattan transfusion. Most Cosmopolitan Girlfriend was there the other weekend; she recommends trying the Capuchin Julep, a blend of bourbon and orange spiced tea, although to be frank, they’d have to be amazing to be an improvement on the ones served this side of the pond, in Barts.

Another reason to love London is our arts scene. Since hearing Chinese prodigy pianist Lang Lang play with the LSO in the UBS Soundscapes series at the Barbican, I’ve been reminded how spoilt we are. To the chagrin of Man of the Moment, who is more excited by play involving a red ball and wickets, I’ve booked us in for a summer of Proms. And theatre. So much theatre.

We hugely enjoyed Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project – in which he fused a troop of British and American actors for two plays – at the Old Vic, especially the performances by Rebecca Hall. The last time I saw her perform was as a fellow student at my college in a play where she had to shed her clothes and simulate sex. Brave girl.

Elsewhere of course there is Hamlet. Or rather, there is Jude. I’ve been a sucker for Mr Law since the days of The Talented Mr Ripley. I used to live in Primrose Hill and on good days when the girls and I would meet at the Primrose Patisserie he’d come in for breakfast, glinting with A-list charisma. Some aspects of this production may grate a bit – Horatio’s ponytail and Gertrude’s slacks for example – but if you haven’t seen it yet, get thee to the Donmar post-haste.

With wedding season round again, in my own attempt to be the ‘glass of fashion and the mould of form’, I’ve followed in the footsteps of Uma Thurman and Naomi Watts and started seeing facialist extraordinaire Sarah Chapman, at her clinic on Draycott Avenue. Visiting her is the perfect way to escape for an hour or two. She has the fluffiest of treatment beds, facing a window; it’s almost worth going simply for that. As soon as she gets to work you feel your skin silently thanking you and starting to forgive the late nights, the coffee, those days in the sun...

Sarah tailors, and I mean really tailors, each facial, rather than repeating the usual slight variations on a theme. My dermis had reached congestion levels not normally found outside Oxford Circus, so I was treated to a heavy duty extraction. Sarah also does what she calls ‘facial gymnastics’, in which she taps and manipulates the skin lightly with her fingers to ease out any muscle tension, and hence reduce wrinkles. You can see the difference after only one appointment. Needless to say I’ll be back. Well, with London so cool, a girl doesn’t want to be outshone by her city.

Original article published in The London Magazine, in August, 2009

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