The Diary: Duchess gets a dressing down

'NZ theme' might have referred to gowns black and white strips.

Anna Valentine designed the Duchess' evening gown. Photo / Getty Images
Anna Valentine designed the Duchess' evening gown. Photo / Getty Images

While our future King celebrates his 64th birthday today in the capital with a Kiwi-style party at Government House, an Auckland socialite at the Diamond Jubilee Trust dinner on Monday night was disappointed the Duchess of Cornwall made no sartorial nod to New Zealand - despite her husband's quip she is "engaged in a crash-course in all things Kiwi".

"Prince Charles was so charming, but his wife, Camilla, looked to be wearing a very expensive sack," said the Northern Slopes maven. "He may have worn a suit made from Kiwi merino wool earlier that day, but Camilla made no effort whatsoever. Love New Zealand? Just not our fashion designers."

The Duchess of Cornwall chose a long, shapeless, silver evening gown and cape by her favourite designer, Anna Valentine.

Clarence House, official representatives for the royal couple, exuberantly took to Twitter to describe it as "a chiffon dress with very much a New Zealand theme!" Quite what that theme was, they didn't elucidate.

"I think the black and white strips hanging from the bottom of her dress are meant to reflect grass skirts or a shout out to the All Blacks," said one fashion editor with indifference.

The couple were guests of honour at the trust's reception dinner where they were entertained by the Topp Twins, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, NZTrio and Kawiti Waetford. Kerre Woodham played MC, which was rather an odd choice for the protocol-heavy affair given her fun-loving, cavalier style. She is good friends with trustee Clare de Lore (aka Lady McKinnon).

Sir Don McKinnon, chairman of the New Zealand arm of the Diamond Jubilee Trust, said the dinner was to thank major donors, which included Westpac, SkyCity and Air New Zealand. Guests dined on smoked salmon, roast beef and chocolate delice by ex-pat celebrity chef Peter Gordon who flew in from London. He designed the same menu for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh four years ago.

Tale of two hairdressers
Much has been made this week about Kiwi taxpayers footing the bill for the Duchess of Cornwall's personal hairdresser. While Prince Charles pays her snipper's salary, we will pick up the tab for all official entourage members, which includes travelling on a New Zealand Air Force aircraft and residing at Government House.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a Kiwi hairdresser with the most famous client in the world has stealthily avoided the headlines.

On the eve of his re-election last week, United States President Barack Obama called on the services of New Zealand hair stylist Brent Lawler to take care of his cropped locks and that of his wife, First Lady Michelle. Lawler joined the President's personal entourage onboard Air Force One.

Working for the leader of the free world is a long way from cutting hair in Hamilton, where Lawler learnt his trade. Now he's an internationally acclaimed hair stylist based in New York. However, he is reluctant to talk about his famous client.

"I'm under a very strict confidentiality agreement with both the Secret Service and the White House, so it's impossible for me to talk with you about any of it, which is a shame because it was an amazing experience," Lawler told the Diary.

Too Close to call
As suspense continues to build over Paul Henry's (re)appointment to TVNZ, the company is staying conspicuously schtum, not refuting the chatter.

Raewyn Rasch has been appointed executive producer of the new-look Close Up show and old Wellingtonian reporter Mauricio Olmedo-Perez will be supervising producer. Heather du Plessis-Allen is rumoured to be joining the reporting team from One News, but management is reluctant to spill the beans on whether she, or anyone else, is in the line-up.

Insiders said roles are being reshuffled and some current Close Up staff were told this week they don't have jobs next year. But TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards told The Diary, "no one has been told they do not have a job with TVNZ".

Richards added: "We are only halfway through the recruitment process and while some positions on the new show are firming up, there are consequential vacancies opening up which we are now recruiting for as well."

British bands dine out
Staff at Ponsonby establishment Prego may have been surprised to see members of British rock band Radiohead dining there last week. Bass player Colin Greenwood liked it so much he returned the next day.

The band, who apparently stayed at Mollies Hotel, played a one-off gig at Vector on Tuesday night, followed by a private after-party at D.O.C bar on K' Rd. But the rock'n'roll lifestyle gave away to genteel cricket practice before their gig. "They were practising ahead of a private cricket match scheduled in Australia," said a band insider.

Meanwhile, Coldplay, who stayed at rock star hotel SkyCity Grand, relaxed post-concert at neighbouring bar Red Hummingbird where, The Diary is informed, Chris Martin [Gwyneth Paltrow's husband] was surrounded by fans of the female variety. "But Chris always has girls around him," a source snitched.

A Finn family affair
Neil Finn and his sons are the latest to get in on Hobbit fever. Finn's Song of the Lonely Mountain debuted on RollingStone.com yesterday and will play over the movie's end credits.

Finn said director Peter Jackson told him to get in a "dwarven state of mind" when writing the song which will be part of the movie's soundtrack to be released next month.

"After some days of mining underground [actually, in Peters office] I emerged with the song, then set about recording it with my sons Elroy and Liam. Dave Fridmann came in at the end with a bold mix. He seemed to respond well to my demands for 'more anvil!' Pop music needs more anvil!' Finn told Rolling Stone.

- NZ Herald

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