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A small world away in Gstaad

18 December 2012

10:52 AM

18 December 2012

10:52 AM

In the latest Spectator Life, our very own Taki told us: ‘I learned long ago that the harder it is to arrive at one’s destination, the better the resort.’ Apparently ‘Gstaad is one of the few ultra-chic winter playgrounds where big jets cannot land.’ Always up for a challenge, I decided that Switzerland’s finest mountain spot needed checking out.

Bloody Mary-spilling turbulence, various coach ‘malfunctions’ and sideways snow aside, our resident High Lifer was proven wrong; ten hours after leaving London I arrived outside, as Taki finely puts it: ‘The Palace — a large chocolate cake of a castle-hotel, favoured by mad King Ludwig of Bavaria.’

I was not alone; 200 of London’s finest models, designers and even tailors took over The Palace for the weekend thanks to ‘A Small World’ — a social network that doesn’t always like to be discussed by diarists.

Even before their stock-market wipeout, Facebook were not greeting guests with ‘diamonds’ sunk in glasses of champagne — well at least a couple of real ones around the room — with experts on hand to declare lucky finds. Needless to say Mr Steerpike was not a winner, but grudging congratulations go to Tali Lennox, model and daughter of Annie who hit the jackpot.

Launched in 2004, A Small World was a hit in the south of France and New York but shot to prominence in party circles when media mogul Harvey Weinstein invested heavily in 2006. Despite selling his controlling stake in 2009, Weinstein flew in for Saturday night’s charity fundraiser, telling the crowd: ‘I managed to take a brilliant idea and turn it into a disaster. Boy did I screw that one up.’

Having bought out Weinstein, the site’s new bosses Patrick Liotard-Vogt and Sabine Heller are gearing up for a substantial imminent relaunch. Challenged by less exclusive competitors, I was intrigued to what a company that refuses to be compartmentalised as ‘an exclusive Facebook’ has up their sleeve.

It turns out a pretty crazy weekend thanks to the likes of models Poppy Delevigne and Arizona Muse, Otis Ferry and the journalist with the best hack’s name ever:  Jefferson Hack. Weinstein was joined by Carey Mulligan, who was there to raise some serious cash for the Alzheimer’s Society.  Throwing in $5000, he got a ball rolling that almost a hundred thousand dollars for Mulligan’s cause, one that she took up for close family reasons.

Stepping out to call her husband, the actress missed the impressive live whip around. Greeted by the total on her return, out of breath she claimed. ‘I’m not emotional, I just ran, well I am emotional too.’ She told me later ‘it’s just such a horrible thing to happen to anyone and I’ve seen it first hand’. For a site that has not always had the best press, the cash raised was no small feat. Certainly more than at your average tweet up.

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