PART ONE of my whirlwind escape to Beijing with Chanel
Even exhaustion cant keep me away from this post. I just arrived back from Beijing where I was lucky enough to attend CHANEL’s global launch of the “1932” high jewellery collection, and WOW.
At times I can be exceptionally jaded about events. Why? Perhaps I’ve been around a few decades, and they are all one and the same, and venues, guests etc end up being repetitive? Or perhaps it’s hard these days to get us out the door unless it’s for a darned good reason, with family, kids, and work, you really want to make sure that a night away from your beauty sleep and family isn’t wasted. But, when you hear the words CHANEL, JEWELLERY, EXCLUSIVE, INTIMATE, surely these words would peak anyone’s interest! So when my dear mother-in-law (M.I.L) asked if I wanted to join her at an extremely exclusive (only 40-45 guests from Hong Kong, and the remaining from other parts of the world) Chanel Global high jewellery event in Beijing, I said YES PLEASE (even this jaded old bird, couldn’t resist).
The Chanel invitation was a grand one. A pre-flight beauty pack arrived, to ensure we nourished our skin before we confronted the dry and brittle air of the plane and Beijing. (How thoughtful!)
On the morning of March 24th Chanel organised a limo pick-up at our door step to take us to the airport. Upon arrival at the HK airport, a friendly Chanel face was there to aid us with our travel check-in, and also just to let us know that they were there. They went the extra mile!
The only dent in our travel schedule was a predictable delay by Dragon Air. Our flight was supposed to depart at 12noon but the plane was on the tarmac for another hour and 20 minutes…sigh… for those F.I.T.s to Beijing.. the delay was nominal. (Luckily my whatsapp was handy and since it was lunchtime I could harass my husband to get my son to his soccer match, and my daughter to swim practice on time :))
Nonetheless, it was a smooth flight and upon arrival in Beijing 3 hours later, Chanel had organised VVIP assistance as we departed the plane, to help us through customs, luggage and straight into our limo/s… alas we were spoilt.
We arrived at the Park Hyatt hotel and Chanel’s chic and friendly staff who flew in from Hong Kong, (the lobby on the 63rd floor was brimming with tweed and interlocking Cs!) escorted us immediately to our individual suites (yup as I said, spoilt to the hilt!) and organised our check-in.
My welcome letter from Vincent Shaw, President Chanel Asia-Pacific.
The actual schedule and venue of events, was kept under lock and key for the element of surprise, and we were requested to be dressed and ready at 7pm for the welcome dinner.
Of course at these invitations one is never completely sure of what to wear, especially when it says casual. What is casual when it comes to Chanel? (folks if you know, please share the secret). Alas, I erred on the side of subtlety, dressed in an asymmetrical Roland Mouret dress, with a Chanel tweed blazer, red satin Chanel evening bag with red satin Christian Louboutin’s.
Our reception for the welcome dinner was anything but casual. We were escorted to the 6th floor where we walked the Red Carpet and descended via a private elevator to what seemed like a phalanx of Chanel limos that later set off in formation, escorted by police through the streets of Beijing. It was spectacular to see the parting of the main road for the guests of Chanel.
Chanel limos awaited the guests before we set off by police escort.
Whilst in the car the secret finally unfolded.We were to dine at Diaoyutai State guesthouse. Now for those of you unfamiliar with Beijing, this venue is for the Government officials only and when Obama visited Beijing, he dined and discussed matters of state, unrelated to high jewellery I’m sure, with President Hu JinTao.
From the moment we set foot in the door, we felt every bit the diplomat.
The venue was full of history from scriptures by great poets as part of the panelling on doors, to the intricate detailing of the ceiling engravings and chandeliers. Truly impressive. For more information on Diaoyuatai please click
Here’s my M.I.L and I in our politico best, seated in the high-politico chairs. Do you recognise this backdrop and chairs?
The dinning room for Chanel Hong Kong and Macau guests.
This first evening was just for the Hong Kong and Macau contingent and Tiffany Lam (head of Chanel Fine Jewellery) left no stone unturned. She orchestrated a 6-star evening that was regal, “casual” in the sense that the dinner was intimate enough for the 40 something guests to enjoy themselves, and organised a magnificent menu which was even more grand than the one served for Obama, (or so said one of the diners) which included delicacies specifically for the Chinese palate. For you foodies out there, here are some photos.
Here is our assorted cold Platter. Indeed it did look like a goldfish!
Braised Shark’s Fin with Cabbage Heart
Whole Abalone with Oyster Sauce
Panfried Good Liver with Sea Cucumber in Abalone Sauce. The sea cucumber is, well, interesting to look at.
Marinated Spotted Garoupa in Oil
Braised Matsutake & Baby Cabbage in Soup
I have skipped the photo of the Almond and Egg white as it just looks like a bowl of milk. I think the most interesting part of this dessert was in fact the creamy consistency, and subtle Almond flavour.
Here is a photo of our pastries.
And finally the fruit.
The evening came to a beautiful ending. We returned to our hotel in our limos and headed back to our suites to rest for the grand unveiling of 1932, the following night.
Ok first night down, and I had to call home to make sure my husband kept to the schedule, fed the kids and managed to get them to sleep on time. His marching orders for Sunday were: Homework had to be finished before they went out…
Despite grandeur and pampering, dreams of diamonds and tiaras, even Chanel could not me from my WBTM (see previous post for definition) tendencies.
To be Continued….