Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dita Von Teese has them by the balls

an understated Joh Bailey at a Cointreau Ball

In the late 1960's Princess Soraya of Iran, in Sydney for a visit asked the Gucci clothier Frank Marcovic "is there any such thing as society in Sydney ?." "Of course there is" replied Frank, reeling off a list of names like the Packers, Fairfaxs, Hordens, Graces, Lloyd-Jone sand so on . Most were media proprietors or department store heirs along with the occasional country property dynasty like the Macarthur Onslows.

"One went to parties where they were at and got into the social pages and that was it" says society maven Diana Fisher, once a BlueBell girl in Paris and married to Humphrey Fisher, the son of the then Archbishop of Canterbury.

It was all lost on Princess Soraya. They were all in trade after all. It went downhill from that point. Parties became and continue to be 'product launches' . Corporations expect lots of free press when they feed and water the media and the so called "A to D" list that seem to ensure a few inches in the social pages.

Budgets are smaller now but were huge in the mid 90's when PR queen Deeta Colvin ruled the roost with her legendary annual Cointreau Balls that lasted a decade.

To even have been to just one was considered a major coup and a step up the social ladder (tSS went to 6).

The Cointreau Balls were planned in great secrecy with guests never knowing where the event was to be held until they actually arrived at it.

Come the big night, the lucky few hundred clutching their invites in whatever costume had been decreed, would wait at their doorstep for a limousine to arrive-every limo in town was booked-to whisk them off to some mystery location, perhaps an abandoned warehouse decorated to fantasy level by party designer David Grant who still organises all major events for internationale Olympic Committee.

Once it was a circus tent in the wilds of the Cronulla sand hills-a road having been bulldozed for the queue of white limos depositing guests. Another was in an abandoned steel mill outside Newcastle. and yet another in the Naval Museum decorated as the Titanic. We all went down with the ship clutching our champers.

The final in the early 2000's was in a fabulous disused art deco cinema in the suburbs with a Hollywood theme (tSS went as a Betty Ford clinician).

It was all just one giant advert for the undrinkable Cointreau which received millions of dollars in free press and presumably cashed in on the sales that followed, done on a smaller budget than imagined says Colvin. And so successful and egalitarian.

One could find oneself seated next to Lord Portalington, Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue or Lady Sonia McMahon. Or once when tSS found ourselves deep in conversation with who we presumed was an eccentric artist named Charles Gosford who actually lived in the town of Gosford just outside Sydney.

We thought it highly amusing he should take the ordinary seaside town's name as a title until informed he was actually the Earl of Gosford from Scotland. These were world class parties-the moniker given to everything in a land uncertain of it's station on the planet, much like a new shipping terminal or the upgraded Pitt Street Mall.

A whole team of the brand's French executives would fly in by private jet for the night. Such a long way to travel but the writing was on the wall when the French champagne stopped for the last 2 parties along with the funding of the extravagant balls when they realised that no-one at the events actually drank Cointreau.

No-one was that mad to risk the worst ever hangover even though the limos stayed to deliver the very last guest home safely.
Now it's all about to return. Well partly.

Dita Von Teese , the femme fatale and queen of the fishnet and corset has been invited to fly to Australia in September in her capacity as global brand ambassador for Cointreau for a one-night-only performance of her burlesque show Be Contreauversial.
The show, created for Cointreau is an update of Von Teese's classic "Martini Go.lass" performance in which she discards her scanties and frolics in an over sized martini glass. All rather tame from days past but probably apt for these times.

## As for Frank Marcovic who hosted Princess Soraya all those years ago. He died of a heart attack in 2006 in his Palm Beach house following a lengthy and sweaty encounter with a rent boy who managed to unshackle himself from the bedpost to summons help, alas too late.

Business-like, he enquired of the investigating police officers as Frank's body was removed by the coroner :"will I still get paid ?"

Twiggy Forrest
Friday : To the Ocean Room at the Overseas Terminal with a host of big names-Christine Anu, James Packer, Russell Crowe ,Cate Blanchett and PM Kevin Rudd for the launch of Generation One. the brainchild of Australia's richest man Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.

Twiggy may be worth a cool $15 Billion but he remembers his roots. Forrest went to a mainly indigenous school and maintained life-long friendships with his Aboriginal schoolmates. Sadly the last one died last year aged only in his 50s.

Forrest is encouraging Big Business to hire more indigenous Australians and hopes to get a least 50,000 in employment within a year.