The Huntsman Fantasy Dinner Party


As the long, sweltering summer draws to a close, our minds move towards Autumn.  The six-month BBC docu-drama ‘Politics’ is over, Goodwood’s hangover is still lurking and 5 Hertford Street has opened two new floors. September is always a wonderful time of year, and 2016 will not disappoint.  At every party I go to, Earth Wind and Fire ask me if I remember September, so it must be special. It’s a month that signals the end of summer – the cocktail parties are fewer, the clothes thicker and the gold-plated Ferraris vanish from the Royal Borough’s streets.  In a sense it’s sad, but it fosters a different kind of fun: the start of the dinner party season. Last week – while waiting for a severely delayed flight back from a performance in Tuscany – I was asked what would make my ideal dinner party.  Having settled on whacky Heston creations, endless Berry Brothers claret and myself as the main entertainment (!) I started thinking about guests. ‘Who’d be at your ideal dinner party?’ is a question that has alleviated boredom for centuries.  God knows who Jesus would have chosen, but surely he and his disciples will have discussed this when they fed the 5,000, performing magic I can only dream of… It is often said that company is the critical element to a spectacular evening.  This is only partially true – a really memorable party is more like the new AbFab movie. Full of surprises, utterly glamorous, endlessly extravagant, with hundreds of interesting people and reasonably low expectations.   Nobody expects it to win an Oscar, but all had a jolly good time. So who would I chose?  My ideal guests would, I hope, lead even the biggest of sullen bores to crack a smile and enjoy themselves.  They are all sitting in a VIP area of heaven (in the sky, not the club in Soho…) protected by a red rope and a bouncer. Liz Taylor. Alexander McQueen. Queen Victoria.  Winston Churchill.  Bing Crosby. There’s glamour, power, music, history and wonderful cigars.  It’s perfect. It’s a charming thought that they’re all sitting on a cloud enjoying Heston’s Bacon and Egg Ice Cream, but the biggest problem would be conversation – the key part of any party.  After the death of her husband in 1861 Queen Victoria only wore black – a contrast to McQueen’s love of exotic and occasionally risqué designs.  Bing Crosby – rumoured to have had a drinking problem - would surely be tempted by Churchill’s famous love of Champagne while irritatingly whistling ‘White Christmas’.  The now-bored Liz Taylor  would be trying to work out if Richard Burton had made it past the pearly gates. You might think this dinner would be a disaster.  Indeed, beyond being successful and, well, dead, my quintet has just one thing in common. But that one thing is that they were all clients of Huntsman.  A mutual love of beautiful English clothing may be what saves my fantasy.  Churchill would share secrets of how he rarely paid for his suits. Anecdotes of Huntsman tailors of yesteryear would be swapped, with a widespread appreciation for the exquisite service found at No. 11 Savile Row.  A waiter would inform them about Kingsman, which they’d attempt to order from an ethereal Amazon Prime.  But above all, they’d agree on the quality of Huntsman’s creations.  They would all be wearing their clothes, which have kept them sartorially chic for years even as they made their way up to heaven. Archie Manners is a magician working in London and across the world, performing on Television and at a series of exclusive private parties.  For more information, visit