Thursday 18 July 2019

60 is the new 40 and Suzanne looks fab!

So 60 is the new 40! However, those who joined Solomon Gallery owner Suzanne Macdougald to celebrate the 21st anniversary of her 39th birthday last night at Marlfield House in Gorey were totally blown away when the former model appeared at her party looking not a day over 30.

Tanned and fit after a sojourn in Villefranche last week, Suzanne floated into her party in a stunning chiffon gown and looked a total babe!

The theme of the party was 'Butterflies' inspired by the wonderful trompe l'oeil in the dining room of Marlfield House and replicated in the conservatory designed by Alfred Cochrane. "As it turned out, it was an appropriate theme because I've had butterflies in my stomach about it for the past week. I've been so excited," she told me last night.

Almost 100 close friends and family members arrived for the bash, which kicked off with bubbles at 6.30pm. The country-house hotel had been exotically transformed by top florist Dave Clancy.

So many old friends caught up with each other at the party. Former US ambassador Mike Sullivan and his lovely wife Jane, who came from Wyoming, could claim to have flown the farthest. Former British Ambassador to Ireland, the extremely popular Ivor Roberts, now the British Ambassador to Rome, flew in without Elizabeth, who is finishing her latest book. The current British Ambassador Stuart Eldon and his wife Christine thoroughly enjoyed the night.

Of course, the guests of honour at the bash were Suzanne's mum Billie and her son Reza and his partner Paula. Her sister Jane and brothers Colin and Timothy also travelled to Gorey while her niece Rebecca Keenan, a postgrad student at Cambridge, and nephew Nicolas, who is in the RAF in Scotland, were joined by their father Thomas, a BBC producer.

You could hear a pin drop as Ciaran MacGonigal regaled everyone with outrageous stories from "the good old days".

Marguerite McCurtin and Catherine Keelaghan were top models with Suzanne in the '60s and '70s and they flew in from London with husbands Frank Flannery and Richard Jacobs. Lady Halla Cochrane, a real beauty, had a ball while Matty Ryan was on top form.

Norma Smurfit, who takes Suzanne to Venice next week as her birthday pressie, caught up with Bill Cullen and Jackie Lavin. Marlfield House owner Mary Bowe, with husband Ray, was a guest in her own hotel but must have been delighted with all the praise for the fantastic weekend.

CHUKKAS AND CHART-TOPPERS It was definitely a sign of the end of summer when the skies turned black and the temperatures plummeted. Still it didn't deter the ladies (and gents) coming out in all their finery last weekend for the sixth annual Fado Ladies International Polo Tournament in aid of the Bubble Gum Club.

Organised by Jackie Rafter and Wendy Herbst, the All-Ireland Polo Grounds in the Phoenix Park were bustling as over 150 guests sipped rosé and marvelled at the high-speed chukkas taking place on the pitch.

This year the teams were from Argentina, the US, the UK and, of course, Ireland. During chukkas, guests were treated to a sneak preview of Deborah Veale's autumn/winter collection for 2005. Ruairi O Morachain, the resident chef in Fado prepared a yummie Celtic buffet.

It was a real surprise when the Fado team were victorious in what was a well-balanced match umpired by Major Hugh Dawnay. After the excitement on the pitch, guests hit the dance floor to the sounds of Valerie Roe's chart-topping band, Zoo.

Among those spotted enjoying the action both on and off the field were the Earl and Countess of Meath, Oliver and Yona Caffrey, Ann Smurfit, Paul and Lisa Fitzpatrick, Catriona Hanly and Niall McCrudden.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE Fashion this season can best be summed up as a load of Cossacks. On Wednesday morning Marks & Spencer took the wraps off its autumn/winter collection in the Blue Leaf Gallery on Pembroke Street.

Guests were treated to a show, produced by stylist Niamh O'Rourke, that included '40s-inspired pieces and a strong Russian theme. Top models including Ruth Griffin, Sarah McGovern and Miss Ireland Aoife Cogan wore ensembles and fabulous accessories from the Limited Collection, Per Una and Autograph ranges. I bumped into Aine Hawes from VIP and was delighted to hear the great news that Emer O'Reilly Hyland has given birth to a healthy baby girl.

Stylist Graham Cruz, looked his usual funky self and Jane Hunt of the Irish Heart Foundation just loved the latest looks.

BREAKING OUT THE RED DOTS I last met artist Jackie Mitchell, who is from Dublin, when she held a hugely successful exhibition of her pictures in Marbella over two years ago. The show was a total sell-out with eager Irish, English, German and Scandanavian collectors snapping up her work. She very generously donated one of her pictures to be auctioned at the Norma Smurfit's Charity Ball in Hotel Puente Romano where it went under the hammer for close to ?20K.

Since then, Jackie has returned to Ireland to live and is based in Co Wicklow. It was there on Thursday evening that she held her latest show. Her wonderful abstract, maritime-themed canvasses were soon covered with red dots, much to her delight.

Among the guests at the exhibition were Fred Hanna from Gladrags and Handbags, sculptor Rosie Rathdonnell, Patrick and Carol Kilbride, Jenny McGinley and Tara Lawless.

A FEAST FOR ALL THE SENSES Talk about A Room With A View or, for that matter, The Colour Purple. During the week, I had dinner in Purple Ocean in Dun Laoghaire. It simply has to get the prize for the most outstanding view of any restaurant in the country.

The 'Tower' has a 360-degree vista right across the harbour to Howth and the Cooley mountains in the distance.

David Ellis is the owner of the restaurant and his favourite colour is purple, which really doesn't come as a surprise when you see the stunning colourful decor. Chef Paul Lewis made sure that the visual feast was more than matched by the fabuous food. The Dover sole, the Barbary duck... they were all to die for!

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