Life in the fast lane has slowed down remarkably, but it has not lost complete momentum, thankfully. The glamorous, high-paced lifestyle and the luxury of owning a few supercars still exist among some, despite the economic instability. Just when I thought the rest of 2020 would fall into further social disintegration, my hope was restored by a press invite to Salon Privé – the UK’s most exclusive motoring show. Additionally, the latter served as a gentle reminder of the zeitgeist of the new millennium, pre-coronavirus. I had every reason to dress up and show up to what could be the last spectacular showcase of the year.
Salon Privé UK took place within the stunning grounds of Blenheim Palace – ancestral seat of the Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. I attended Salon Privé for the first time on Ladies’ Day hosted by Boodles on Thursday, 24th September 2020. The event officially commenced on Tuesday, 22nd September, which included a new VIP Media Day, and lasted until Saturday, 26th September.
Worldwide motor manufacturers were in attendance. They displayed their latest automobiles to classic car and supercar enthusiasts. Ladies’ Day offered a fashionable display of distinctive hats juxtaposed against the masculinity of the likes of Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, McLaren and Rolls-Royce. Opposites attract when timeless fashion and traditional automobiles meet on historic ground. “Coming Together, Keeping Apart” was the general mood of the event and, as such, Salon Privé initiated stringent COVID-19 secure systems in support of government guidelines.
Salon Privé UK was the first automotive event in the world to use the CI Group’s Liber track and trace app, designed for significant event organisers. The primary purpose of the Liber app was to ensure that everyone in attendance was COVID-19-free before they entered and contacted afterwards, if necessary. At first, I felt apprehensive about attending the event until I read about Liber in the press release. My guests and I downloaded the app and completed the health and safety questionnaire before we entered the venue.
Salon Privé offered a high standard of hospitality which included a champagne reception, a choice of fish, meat or vegetarian lunch hamper and afternoon tea. Salon Privé used to provide a buffet-style lunch. The tables were two meters apart and accommodated up to six guests under social distancing rules. The hospitable staff made our day extra special. A lovely waitress by the name of Favour Ubadike introduced herself in such a professional and friendly manner. The event organisers succeeded in their delivery of a world-class event combined with meticulous customer care in light of their ethos of ‘Coming Together, Keeping Apart’.
I felt honoured to be asked by Boodles to judge their Best hat competition alongside Royal milliner – Jess Collett, ITV race stylist – Sarah Kate Bryne and Event Director – David Bagley. There were many stunning hats from which to choose. From a stylist’s perspective, craftsmanship, the style of the hat and originality of design influenced my favourite choices which made the final.
Boodles offered a glamorous pair of ‘Be Boodles’ drop diamond earrings in 18-carat rose gold and platinum, valued at £4,800, to the winner of the Best hat competition who looked exquisite. The ambience was sensational. Contestant – Victoria White – said “Salon Prive is a real celebration of enjoying things. Stylish ladies, beautiful cars in a fantastic setting.”
I pulled out all the stops to look extra fabulous, knowing I would be one of the judges. My outfit of the day included a fantastic hat by talented milliner – Katherine Elizabeth – to compliment my pink dress by Coast. Glamorous accessories complete an outfit ensemble in more ways than one. Boodles loaned me the most beautiful white gold drop earrings and bangle, from their Orchard collection, to wear on the day. Style is priceless, and diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Perhaps my new best friends and I will reunite one day.
Other highlights included the winner of the Most Exceptional Coachwork award – an ex-Sir Malcolm Campbell 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Touring Saloon (my favourite car at Salon Prive) that made its final appearance in the UK before heading to India, where Yohan Poonawalla will house it in the prestigious YZP Collection & Museum.
Salon Privé raised more than one million for its charity partner – Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity – which provides emotional and practical support to families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness. Other charity partners include Hope for Tomorrow, which supplies mobile cancer care units to NHS Trusts across the country to allow patients to receive their treatments in safe, local environments. Lastly, there is the Halow Project; it is dedicated to creating opportunities and supporting young people aged 16 and older who have a learning disability.
Andrew Bagley, Chairman of Salon Privé, said “… with an event 45% larger in physical size than last year, and some 93 entries in the Concours d’Elégance by AXA versus 61 last year, Salon Privé was able to raise its game this year beyond our wildest dreams. We’re very much looking forward to returning to the lawns of Blenheim Palace in 2021 on our traditional earlier dates of 1-4 September.”
Salon Privé UK uses its platform not only to support their industry but also to improve lives and community initiatives. The show deserves recognition for being one of the top events in the world. I hope to return to Salon Privé UK in 2021 to judge more hats. Then, hopefully, more of us will be able to come together to celebrate excellence.