As you can likely tell from our latest #smythsonstories campaign with Vanessa Kirby and James Norton, we are big fans of the London theatre scene. Building on this passion, this year we were delighted to sponsor the National Theatre’s ‘Bright Young Things’ gala and we asked Sasha Wilkins of Liberty London Girl to document the night’s escapades.As an ex-fashion editor, I think it’s fair to say that I have been to a lot of gala evenings, but never before have I spent an evening on the stage, yes, actually on the stage, at The National Theatre.
On Wednesday evening, the NT held its second Bright Young Things Gala to raise vital funds in support of emerging talent at the National Theatre, and champion young philanthropy in the arts. (In 2014 the event raised £150,000 for the charity.)
Smythson, who were supporting the evening as part of their Behind the Craft campaign, asked me to join their table for the evening, along with a trio of extraordinary acting talent: their SS16 campaign star, the utterly charming James Norton, and National Theatre VERY Bright Young Things Olivia Vinall and George McKay, and the editor-in-chief of Conde Nast Traveller magazine, Melinda Stevens.
With a dress code of Black Tie with Artistic Licence adhered too – a sweeping floor length gothic black lace dress and gorgeous Smythson Brook bag tucked under my arm, I soon discovered that a gala at the NT is not quite like a gala in the fashion world.From the moment we arrived, we were immersed in the creative process from the inside out: NT badges were slung around our necks, with the words ‘Artistic Company” in bold, the re-configured foyer was hung with pages from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and we were introduced to the key figures in a new (imaginary) production of the Dream, as they kicked off their first rehearsal during the drinks reception.
We moved swiftly to the Lyttleton theatre to watch the beginnings of the rehearsal period thanks to the combined efforts of writers Suhayla El-Bushra (The Suicide), Nick Payne (Constellations – Evening Standard Award, Best Play) and Director, Emily Lim (Brainstorm, The Kilburn Passion). Then, just as we were wondering what would happen next, the stage curtain was lowered, and the tables for dinner were revealed.Oh and dinner! Its theatricality was really worthy of an entire post thanks to Michelin star chef, Ollie Dabbous. The starter of iced eucalyptus granite on celeriac with lovage and pear was remarkable, thanks to its bed of dry ice; our main courses of rare grass-fed beef, watercress stems, and toasted rye were accompanied by individual teapots of warm herb buttermilk into which we were invited to snip fresh herbs from the hessian-clad pots on the table, and a pudding of baked quince, chestnuts and lemon thyme, strained sheep’s milk yoghurt, which came wrapped in brown paper money bags.
Sitting next to the lovely Olivia, we compared our Smythson evening bags (she was carrying the beautiful Soho clutch bag, which I took to Royal Ascot last summer) and tried to avoid waving our hands about as Christies’ hyperactive auctioneer Tom Best, ramped up the crowd to get them to bid on the chance to support key projects at the National Theatre.
And then there was dancing and tequila and fun in the theatre foyer before I left, clasping both Smythson bag and a box of delicious Delice chocolates, to head home to bed.