Parties: In praise of psychedelia

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The Independent Online

The launch party of the artist Alan Aldridge's retrospective ("The Man With Kaleidoscope Eyes") at the Design Museum in south-east London had a suitably psychedelic atmosphere, as guests arrived to see two women standing on plinths wearing nothing but the artist's designs, applied in MAC body paint.

Confusing guests further, the evening's host, Saffron Aldridge, the eldest of the artist's eight children, seemed to have cloned herself, as her half-sisters Ruby and Lily arrived, making an unfeasibly leggy trio (models all three, and all wearing jewels by H Stern). "I thought it was about time Dad's work was resurrected," said Saffron, who'd pitched the idea of the show to the museum.

Wandering through the green hall of mirrors hung with creatures from Aldridge's 1973 classic The Butterfly Ball, it was hard to tell who was an optical illusion and who a rock legend. But even with the disguise of a floppy hat, Sting was instantly recognisable, as was Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. Meanwhile, ex-Python Terry Gilliam was wandering around enchanted, as was the Queen's first cousin (once removed), Lady Helen Taylor, who noted the child-friendly quality of the art – "I must bring little Cassius."

Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic looked on contentedly, comparing Aldridge's fantastical illustrations to Richard Dadd or Sir John Tenniel. Would a hallucinogenic canapé bring out their best? Sudjic rather thought the art alone would do the trick.

Veuve Clicquot, mini-salmon brochettes and a Beatles soundtrack kept the party going till it was time for the social butterflies and Long-Legged Aldridges to depart in black-beetle chariots (or possibly London cabs).

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