Man about town: Karl Lagerfeld was late to the launch of his European flagship store, but certainly no disappointment

The London fashion crowd, normally arch and reserved, lost any pretence of cool

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The Independent Online

The host of the party was an hour and a half late - but no one seemed to begrudge him. Instead, the guests just kept looking, twitching with excitement, at the door. We were on London's Regent Street for the launch of the European flagship Karl Lagerfeld store. His tardiness was probably ignored as Lagerfeld holds a special place in the fashion world: combining brilliant design with unrepentantly individualistic behaviour. He has two houses next to each other: one for sleeping and sketching in, the other for eating in; he also has two full time assistants to look after (and document the every move of) his cat Choupette.

And when he finally arrived, he was no disappointment. The London fashion crowd, normally arch and reserved, lost any pretence of cool. He walked in, and the phones cameras came out. The manager came out to give him a guided tour of the shop, followed by minions of all sizes, and practically every guest there. Security guards swept open a path for him and he inspected the shoes, handbags and mini idols, sorry models, of himself. Celebrities lined up to meet the man and to shake his leather glove-clad hand. The mood was like the one that I imagine follows the sort of fabulously dressed generals popular among military juntas. But at this one, the smiles of adoration seemed real.

Wacky or plain tacky?

If only people could be better dressed for St Patrick’s Day. A once fun night of national celebration, seems to have become an annual gathering of people in “wacky” hats, confiding in each other that they “don’t really get Guinness”. Thankfully there wasn't an oversized hat in sight as Ewan Lacey of the IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition) started the St Patrick's Day celebrations off early last week with a tasting of Irish whiskeys.

As well as some fine smoked salmon and Irish cheese, the event also introduced me to the joys of Connemara and Teeling whiskies, my recommendation for Monday night if you, like the hat wearers, are not fans of the black stuff.

Lacey told us that 100 years ago Irish whiskey was the world’s leading spirit, yet thirty years ago there was only one distillery still in operation in the country. And while it has been enjoying something of a resurgence of late, today it lags far behind its  Scottish rivals. Some might argue that there is an anti-Independence point to be drawn from that. Perhaps.