Parties: Stars flock toculture Clash

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The Independent Online

One of the first to arrive at the private view for ex-Clash bassist Paul Simonon's exhibition at Thomas Williams gallery last Tuesday week was a newly blonde Lily Allen. "She's on a shopping spree," Harry Enfield exclaimed. Despite the Bond Street location, precious gems weren't on her list (though jewellery designers Theo Fennell, Stephen Webster and Solange Azagury-Partridge were there). So what had made Lily smile? Well, buying two paintings: Egg and Bacon and Fish in a Terracotta Bowl – one for herself, one for a friend.

It was a genuine rock-meets-art party, as musos Bobbie Gillespie, Bryan Ferry and Shane MacGowan mingled with Lucian Freud, Jay Jopling, Jake Chapman and Mark Quinn, sipping on Champagne and elderflower vodka cocktails, while admiring the paintings of bullfights, acrobatic matadors, nudes and still-lifes.

Was the art up to Clash standards? "Bags of personality" was Ferry's reaction, while the model Marie Helvin declared them "life-affirming"; it was certainly one take on the pictures of men and women dicing with death in the bullring, not to mention Simonon's self-portrait – as a skeleton.

Simonon himself stood proudly by, ready to say goodbye to most paintings, even La Gitana Durmiendo ("The Sleeping Gypsy") – many whispered that with her raven locks and pert bottom clad in racy polka-dot knickers, La Gitana was perhaps modelled on Simonon's girlfriend, the Agent Provocateur co-founder Serena Rees. Clad in jeans, killer heels and a fitted blue blazer, Rees wouldn't comment, and instead led guests including Tracey Emin, Jefferson Hack and Dan Macmillan on to an after-party at cosy local The Burlington Arms, where finger food from Giorgio Locatelli – suckling-pig sarnies, crayfish and saffron risotto balls – was as appreciated as the art had been.

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