The hum of conversation, the rhythm of music, the clink of glasses… If you were in Belsize Park on Friday, the usual dawn chorus sounded very different, as dancing silhouettes still swung in the first rays of sunrise. But that was the grand finale of the party – it all began a year before when Matthew was first inspired by a midsummer dusk-till-dawn party in the woods for the new collection. That vision stayed with him and led to this summer party with guests including Arizona Muse and Isabeli Fontana.
Matthew’s garden was already wild enough to rival a forest, but weeks of ivy clearance and digging followed to make the space more wonderland than woodland chaos. Even a tiled path was discovered under the disarray – our very own yellow brick road. Benches were strewn with Mexican blankets and cushions specially made in Leopard Strawberry jacquard from the collection. Forgotten corners now featured a Moroccan den – with once-rusty garden chairs painted and cushioned in Rainbow Morris fabric. Matthew took paintings, mirrors and lanterns from his house to glisten amongst the fairy lights which twisted through the trees overhead. If guests looked up, they would see parrots and parakeets (real or not, the hazy dusk made it hard to tell…). A chaise-long with cushions from the Osborne & Little collection made a louche seat for the start, then an elevated dancefloor after midnight. A rediscovered gazebo became the centrepiece – it was hand–painted with florals based on those first seen on the catwalk for Exotikarma in Summer 2000. The bar (every garden party needs one close) was covered in Floral Twine print and bedecked with fresh coconuts by Cocoface and bottles of Chandon sparkling wine and Staritsky and Levitsky vodka.
Up the fairy-lit stairs from the garden and the party continued indoors with eighties disco beats pumping from the Big Jambox. Laid out in Matthew’s kitchen, Hemsley & Hemsley had prepared a feast worthy of Bacchanalia. Just like their signature healthy food, it was all organic, homemade and heaving with nutrients – red lentil coconut curry, beef ragu with courgetti followed by BB Brownies – dishes to keep guests dancing until dawn with boundless energy. All in a rainbow of colours to match the fashion: Jasmine dressed in Rainbow Morris (beginning in the gown then changing to the jersey dress at midnight) while Melissa was flower queen in Daisy Lace. Isabelli Fontana made monochrome shimmer in the Optical Sequin gown while Talullah Harlech wore acid yellow sequins from the archive and model Sarah-Ann Macklin started the night in hot orange evening lace, moving into a mini dress to swirl on the dance floor (yes, there was a dress-up session in Matthew’s bedroom).
It was a summer night that dreams are made on… Long live the woodland spirit.
“I love balmy summer nights which provide the perfect opportunity to host a party. The garden was in full bloom, and even the bar was made up entirely of herbs and lavender to scent the atmosphere!”