Parties: A day at the races

Ascot hasn't been this cool since Cecil Beaton did the costumes for My Fair Lady. Providing a sartorial sanctuary in a sea of safe dresses and high-street hats, British designers Luella Bartley, Vivienne Westwood, Gieves & Hawkes and milliner Stephen Jones demonstrated the art of breaking the rules. Their fashion show took place during a four-course lunch at the Bessborough Restaurant, where models including William Gladstone's great-great-great granddaughter, Olivia Inge, strode the catwalk while a champagne-fuelled audience whooped with approval.

The women were particularly taken with male model Alex Beer in Westwood's striped body stocking: his gloriously tattooed biceps brought the house down. Luella looked thrilled and said that Ascot is "another of the things that inspires me about English culture. There are rules that you have to rebel against." Westwood did not attend in person but sent her soul-therapist friend, Ingrid, instead.

The Westwood table was transfixed by Ingrid's hovering hand over the race book checking the horses' form: "I feel a strange energy from Arabian Gleam, he's either poorly or going to win." He didn't come in.

The late Isabella Blow was much lamented by Noelle Reno, ex-girlfriend of banking heir Matthew Mellon, who said, "Issy would think it was great that hats are so hot."

As the alcohol flowed, lunch became tea and muffled shouts emanated from the Royal Enclosure. The sound of envy, perhaps?