As I entered Koko, three hours or so before the Hermès Silk Ball was about to kick off, I was trying to sift through my foggy brain to remember the last time I was there. It may have been seven or eight years ago. It may have been a Foals gig. I may have licked the gilded and red statues that adorns the interior. It’s all a bit of a haze. On this occasion though, Koko was no longer a drunken blue of red and gold but brought up to high definition thanks to Hermès lifting the venue up with illuminated prints of their silk scarves dotted around and a central tunnel of silk leading to the middle level of this cavernous space. To put this all into context though, a party hosted by Hermès at Koko, with guests that included not just fashion industry peeps and a select group of Hermès clients but also a diverse crowd of competition winners (hosted on this blog and through my Instagram) and bloggers, is an unlikely combination. With Hermès’ silk offering – their “fun” product – they wanted to stray beyond the polite boundaries of a luxury house like Hermès. Fun was certainly the operative word.
It was a memorable night filled with good old fashioned, unpretentious and non-wanky fun. A fashion PR, who I had invited walked in and said “This doesn’t feel like a fashion party.” An hour later and she was slurring enthusiastic words in my ear about how much fun she was having. Not resembling a fashion party is a good thing, if we take typical “fashion party” to mean fashion industry folk dropping in for five minutes to an event, having one begrudged drink, saying “Hi/Bye!” to a PR to ensure that they’ve registered on their radar and looking around to see if there are any opportunistic conversations to be had with somebody better/cooler/higher up on the rungs. The crowd was hugely diverse and thanks to everyone coming up to me every two minutes to say “Thank you! I’m one of the competition winners!” (yay for saying “Hi!” in real life – take that, virtual world), I learned that a mix of fashion/textiles/journalism students, designers, illustrators as well as accountants and lawyers were present with their 1’s. By and large they were people who probably hadn’t experienced aforementioned sad-face fashion party. They were up for it, enthusiastic and tellingly many of the competition winners who entered the venue bang on at 8pm stayed until the glitter and confetti-strewn end at midnight.
Therefore first and foremost, Hermès have to be commended for even allowing such an event to happen and eschewing luxury fashion etiquette norm. Then there were the many bonuses because Hermès had thought of every single detail to make the night full of fun nuggets to take away. The dessert buffet laid out with edible flower-strewn profiteroles, fruit platters and all kinds of fondants/mousses/creams. In abundance were pulled pork sandwiches, burgers and lobster rolls too. Route to fun? Food. Eating is certainly not cheating. Upstairs on the upper level, was a Room of Transformation, with a gang of make-up artists ready to adorn your face and hair with flowers, butterflies or both in your chosen colour scheme. There was a Room of Emotion where the mystical Stefan read your fortune with both silk and tarot cards. Mine was Phoenix Cheval – some kind of embodiment of fashion’s past and future. Intense! There were the creatures – a Princess, a Cheval, a Faune and a Phoenix – parading around in incredible costumes constructed out of Hermès silk. There were the chameleon photobooths set up by the dancefloor for guests to be draped in silk and pose against matching walls to echo their S/S 14 Soie Folle campaign. Photos would be sent to guests as a souvenir of the night. People were astonished by the level of detail and care that had gone into it. It wouldn’t have surprised the more cynical crowd and in truth there was a deliberate intention to create Insta-friendly fodder, inviting everyone to squeal, snap and share. But that generosity was appreciated and happily reciprocated, havine done a quick search on Instagram/Twitter. Satisfaction from both parties.
On the subject of dress code, Hermès may have asked us to metamorphose into Beauty or Beast with masks and fantastical make-up. However it was all open to interpretation. Nobody was going to be barred if they didn’t arrive in full ball regalia. Some people dipped their toes into dressing up. Some people were full on (thumbs up to the two guys who turned up looking like extras from the Amadeus masquerade ball scene). If you wanted to gussy up your look, Hermès’ handsome hosts and hostesses were handing out paper cut-out masks and wetting temporary tattoos on the skin. As much as I fantasised about an 18th century mantua dress covered in Hermès silk, that wasn’t going to happen and so even I, lover of all things new-and-shiny, dug out a trusty Rachel Comey print dress and let the Hermès scarves do their knotted and draped thing. Paired with a some jingle jangle by jewellery designer Lucy Folk, I *think* I was going for a sort of, ish, kind of, not-really, tropicana theme. Rule of thumb when it comes to good old-fashioned fun – not being overly precious about what you’re wearing.
It’s no ball without dance. And this was the part that Hermès really aced, considering that so many fashion parties consist of people standing cooly on the dance floor, drink in one hand, business card in the other. They called upon an amazing group of Vogue-ing dancers, who performed at regular intervals during the night and then urged the audience to “Silk It Up” with easy-to-learn routines. And yes, loads of people participated. At one point, I looked down from the top tier balcony to the dance floor and stage and thought, “OMgeeeeeeee, it’s like a She’s All That co-ordinated prom scene!” with people dancing routines in sync and in line. My hands were clicking on a camera as opposed to Vogue-ing but it was awesome to watch. I chose to break out with cheesy moves in the last hour instead.
The results of the evening? A barefooted walk home, a cracking headache the next morning and a tasty bacon sarnie as a hangover cure. That’s the sort of fun I remember having the first time round when I used to frequent Koko. Some things don’t change.
P.S. I forgot to take a picture of the lovely MC Orla who led the proceedings of the night. I have to apologise for subjecting her to half an hour of the most haphazard, improvised styling session as I tried to fashion an outfit out of scarves for her. There is a reason why I’m not a proper, legit stylist.
The Room of Emotion with Stefan…
The Room of Transformation…
Creatures of the night…