By this stage of December the Christmas party season is in full swing and there was no better proof than at the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Woman of the Year awards, held in the Renaissance splendour of the Raphael Cartoons room at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Think sequins, lace and yet more sequins, fashioned into everything from body-con shifts to strapless “onesies” and full-skirted prom dresses. “I’ve never seen you with your legs out,” one partygoer commented to her friend.
But it wasn’t all exposed limbs and Christmas-tree glitz: newly engaged popstrel Nicole Scherzinger picked up the TV Personality award in a strapless corseted top and tailored trousers by British designer Amanda Wakeley – and gave a moving tribute to Nelson Mandela with a rendition of “This little light of mine” on the podium for good measure. It was doubtful that Scherzinger had room in her cinched-in look to accommodate anything from the dinner menu (butter-poached breast of corn-fed chicken and a cheese platter from La Cave à Fromage) but perhaps she managed a sip or two of the Scavi & Ray prosecco.
Fearne Cotton, who was presenting the awards, opted for lace – albeit in a shade of cornflower blue. “It’s vintage,” she said. “I’m not sure where it’s from. My stylist got it for me and she’s back in the hotel room.” Of course she was.
Conversely, fellow television presenter, and footballer’s wife, Louise Redknapp (married to former footballer Jamie) is obviously a woman who shops for herself. A lot. “It’s by Yves Saint Laurent,” she said pointing to her gold lurex tuxedo jacket, before correcting herself. “Oh we’re not allowed to say that any more are we? It’s Saint Laurent isn’t it?” She continued to give a precise head-to-toe summary of her outfit: “Saint Laurent [jacket], Gucci [top], Saint Laurent [skirt], Hermès [bag].”
There were more than a few Mary Katrantzou dresses in evidence – including one full-skirted print dress worn by singer Rebecca Ferguson. Red-headed pop star Nicola Roberts managed to look offbeat but elegant in a full- length pink fishtail gown by Halston Heritage.
Still, it was left to two English eccentrics, Lulu Guinness and Paloma Faith, to raise the Christmas party style bar. “I’m not wearing British,” admitted handbag designer Guinness in a black Moschino dress with studded neckline, “but I did wear all-British at the British Fashion Awards the other night. Oh, but I am wearing Stephen Jones,” she added, pointing to a brown velvet headpiece.
As for Faith, the singer picked up the Ultimate Style Icon Award of the night in a black dress with crystal encrusted sleeves by Kristian Aadnevik, matching diamanté earrings by Vicki Sarge, a velvet fan-shaped bag and towering black platform shoes. “I’ve never even won a raffle before,” she said as she was handed the most coveted prize of the night. And more than that, she proved that just the right amount of sparkle can be a winning party combination.