How fashion's most polished partygoers get ready

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William Helburn: Mid Century Fashion and Advertising Photography, edited by Robert Lilly and Lois Allen Lilly, published by Thames & Hudson and available now

We don't know about you, but we find getting ready is one of the best bits about going out. The whole ritual of it, the indulgence of a little me-time, coupled with the excitement and expectation of a great evening ahead - it's a time to savour. That is why we asked six of fashion's most polished partygoers about their prepping secrets - so whether you're rushing out or grooming for hours, you can take tips from the best.


Candice Lake, photographer

"The main thing I do before getting ready is to take a beautiful long bath. This way, I wash away the day ready for a big night ahead. I also like to put on my favourite music, especially Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker, on our record player and let the music flow throughout the house.

I usually spray my perfume on as the last thing I do before I leave, that's my main ritual, and I don’t decide which one it will be until I'm walking out of the door. Each scent has a different mood, so I leave that decision until I'm dressed and ready to go."

Insider secret: I can’t live without Lucas Papaw ointment.  It is perfect for lips, just highlighting under the brows, dry hands,  basically everything!


Donna Ida Thornton, founder of Donna Ida denim

“Life is so fast paced; I often go straight from [my store] Donna Ida to a party, so I’ll either get changed in the office or I have been known to change in the car. If it's a cocktail party or black-tie ball, I slip up to Fenwick, Bond Street to have my make-up done by Frey-ja Barker where I’ll usually go for a smokey eye. I have a quick 30 minute blow-dry at Blo by Real Hair on Elizabeth Street, which is next door to the boutique and then I’ll change into my gown.

The important thing is to arrive looking good and not just falling out of the back of a taxi, so I’ll always get collected by [my husband] Bobby Dazzler to arrive in style. When you do get there, make sure to get a glass of champagne, and if you can sneak one in before that, even better!”

Insider secret:  Bobbi Brown's Long-Wear Cream Shadow stick in bronze - goes with everything and it lasts all night.

Tiphaine de Lussy, designer

“There is something wonderful about the ritual of getting ready. I love dressing up - it reminds me of the excitement of fancy dress as a child. It's about creating a fantasy outfit and reinventing yourself for the evening. I always think about the outfit ahead of time and I love having fun with the styling. It's a lot about interpreting the mood I am in for the night. I am generally quite organised as I'm usually short of time so I don’t faff. By the time I’ve washed my face, I’ve usually decided on the outfit.

I stick to the same beauty regime. My perfume is always Escentric 02 by Molecules. I always apply Clarins' Beauty Flash Balm, then Shiseido foundation, Nars concealer, Nars highlighter, brown/beige eye shadow square by “Other Stories”, Bobbi Brown Intensifying Long-wear mascara. The only thing I vary is the lipstick: I have a nice rainbow of rich, bright colours. I like to concentrate and prepare on my own but just as I am ready, I do often ask my daughter what she thinks, just because I like her approval and I trust her.”

Insider secret: I love Shiseido Perfect Refining foundation, which I mix with my moisturiser. It makes my skin look natural but great.  



Yasmin Mills, party organiser

"Getting ready is when my evening begins. I often enjoy the pre-party pampering as much as the party itself. I organise events as my job so when I'm not working, I love to make the most of it. I will light some of my huge Kelly Hoppen candles, put on some Basement Jaxx or Pharrell Williams and have a long hot bath. I use my Jo Wood Organics body scrub to feel re-invigorated. I will have pondered my party outfit during the day so I'll then slip into whatever I've decided on. I enjoy the ritual of putting on make-up. I always begin with Laura Mercier Tinted Illuminating Moisturiser and finish my party look with lashings of Eyeko Black Magic mascara and my favourite Rodial Glamstick tinted lip butter in Bite. It goes on to the lips like melted butter on toast. If I'm working, I will just about have time to brush through some Batiste dry shampoo into my hair on the way out. My hair is the most important finishing touch for me. If it's primped, preened and styled to my liking, I always feel party ready.”

Insider secret: It has to be Philip B, Oud Royal, Forever Shine shampoo and conditioner. It is like shimmer for my hair.

Kim Hersov, fashion editor and co-founder of Talitha

"The reality of my life is that I rarely have much time to spare. My six-year-old's bedtime and my evening schedule always seem to collide, so my evening preparations are quite simple and a bit spontaneous with both my son and my partner, Barry, hanging around.

If it is an important event, one of my luxuries is to get my hair blow dried (to look effortless as only a great hairdresser can). I go to Nyumba in Sloane Square in London. I also use Sarah Chapman's 3D Moisture Infusion mask as part of my preparation ritual. I think good skin is vital and this helps to hydrate and make it look glowing. I also play music as a way to lift my energy.  My son is usually in the room and he loves this. I then decide on my outfit quite spontaneously and according to my mood. I don't plan ahead too much. If in doubt I will get advice from the boys or snap a picture and send to a girl friend. It's all quite impromptu."

Insider secret: Wear pieces that aren't immediately recognisable. I like the texture and colour of my Talitha pieces, especially in the gloomy winter. For jewellery, I am obsessed with Pintaldi Maurizio, which is expensive but gorgeous and unusual. I also love vintage pieces from Portobello Market in London.

Pippa Vosper, fashion consultant

"If the night is a special one, the entire day is usually part of the preparation in some way - a facial, manicure, conversations with those I am going to be with on the night and thoughts on what I'll be wearing. The 'prep' has always been what makes a night so memorable; if I rush to get out of the door, the evening isn't ever as meaningful. After the day's beauty appointments, I love to be alone with my favourite music on, I always need a little time to relax before an event."A glass of champagne with friends at home beforehand, the great energy that comes from being with your favourite people, that really sets the tone for the evening.

Insider secret: Sisley Black Rose Precious Face Oil, which I use as the perfect base under my make-up for glowing party skin.


By Claire Brayford