It had been raining for three straight days in London when guests arrived at Quintessentially's Summer Arts Party on 9 July, their art-nouveau invitations noticeably limp as they checked coats at the Phillips de Pury gallery in St James's.
But spirits were soon revived by a wall of Perrier Jouet champagne, and the stark white rooms, filled with opulent photographs of idly beautiful women, were soon brimming with the real thing: the model Jacquetta Wheeler stalked about; the writer Celia Walden arrived a little bedraggled in vintage clothes, Piers Morgan on her arm; and the burlesque performer Immodesty Blaize, with more clothes on than usual, was somewhat surprisingly mistaken for heiress-model Jasmine Guinness.
As waiters arrived with delicate beef carpaccio and truffles, the entertainment for the evening began: a series of performance-art pieces titled "The Sleep of Reason produces Monsters", based on Goya's Los Caprichos. Artists Annie Morris and Gavin Turk, Salman Rushdie's estranged wife Padma Lakshmi and Oscar Humphries (son of Dame Edna) stopped for a gawp in one room, where a woman lay asleep in a sea of blue silk, her dress stretching to the edges of the room.
Wheeler and food writer Tom Parker Bowles stopped in another room to smirk at the most striking piece – a naked man standing in a shaft of light, his head masked in bandages. It was meant to be a reference to Guantanamo Bay but a spirit of irreverence had taken hold, and one guest suggested he wanted his bottom slapped. It was time to leave this dreamland, and return to the familiar rain.Reuse content