Parties: A year of glitz and politics

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It's been a high-rolling year on the party scene. Gallons of booze have been downed, numerous high heels have stabbed into red carpets and countless awards have been graciously accepted.

It kicked off in February with the crowning of Dame Helen Mirren as best actress at the Baftas for her role in The Queen a precursor to her triumph at the Oscars later that month, where guests included Penelope Cruz, Eva Green, Forest Whitaker and Kate Winslet.

Cue the balmy spring months, when the political classes went peacocking. The final days of the Blair government were seen off at a wild launch party for Piers Morgan's second volume of The Insider diaries. Remarkably, Lord Levy showed up in the midst of the cash-for-honours scandal, head held high.

A couple of months later, and Gordon Brown was pressing the flesh at both the Spectator summer party and the New Statesman bash during July. Always behind a wall of bodyguards, he didn't show much flair for glitzy gatherings.

The style-setters took over again in September as London Fashion Week opened with a spectacular party held by Moët & Chandon. A fairground with hog spit roasts was lit up by guests including Zandra Rhodes and the Daily Telegraph's fashion director Hilary Alexander.

The glitz quotient remained high at the GQ Awards that same month, Madonna arriving as a surprise guest. The vanity of all this was counteracted in style at Elton's annual Aids Foundation pre-Christmas party, hosted by David Furnish. All the venue's cocktail bars designed by guests who included Elizabeth Hurley, Patrick Cox and Dinos Chapman were auctioned off for charity at the end of the night, making it perhaps the only bash this year which left little for the cleaners to do.

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