Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Liz Brewer: How to be a 21st Century socialite and not a twerp on Twitter


Liz Brewer is a living legend - and you're just very sad if you've never heard of her. For decades she has graced many cities of the world with the glitteriest parties and media-friendly stunts on behalf of her royal, high society, celebrity and corporate clientele.

In recent times TV broadened her fame with Ladette to Lady on which, as 'Etiquette and Social Protocol Teacher', she sought to turn 'innit'-spewing chavs into presentable princesses who held their table knives not as pens. Liz now has a new book out (details below), a trove of wisdom and instruction on good manners and social form. Madame Arcati caught up with her....

Liz Brewer! Party planner extraordinaire! Someone once described you as Krug on legs. You party-plan for Ivana Trump, Dame Shirley Bassey, London mayor Boris Johnson and many others, don't you? And who else? (Is it just party planning?)

Actually it was the front cover of one of the Sunday mags that described me as 'Fizzy Liz Krug on legs'!* You have an amazing memory! At the time I was Ambassador for Krug and Remy Krug was a good friend. Now I am the Roving Ambassador of Laurent-Perrier who have flown me a number of times to their impressive Chateau Levois. On one occasion to be presented with the honour of being made a Dame Chevalier de Champagne for L'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. (And Dame Shirley Bassey received the title of Dame d'Honneur de Champagne at Champagne de Castellane for the ceremony of the ordre de Coteaux de Champagne).
*Ahem, it was actually Woman's Journal, phrase coined by one Victor Olliver

Which is the best party you've ever planned for a client?

I know this may sound corny but every party has been special and you always feel your last party was the best; however, that is very much to do with the people and content. There are memorable happenings which make certain events unforgettable but in general I have loved them all in different ways. Dame Shirley's was visually significant and was filmed by CNBC for their Luxury channel, going out to a possible 200 million homes in Europe about five times...! It was called The Party Guru and filmed by Fiona Sanderson over a couple of years. Incidentally I just found the following clip which was when I organized for Dame Shirley to receive the Legion d'Honneur from the French Ambassador in London: Nobility News.

You've a new book out, Liz Brewer's Ultimate Guide to Party Planning and Etiquette - tell us a bit about it.

My new book is really about bringing party planning and social behaviour into the 21st Century.

Liz with Ivana Trump
The early chapters cover speech, posture, making a positive impression, self-esteem, breaking bad habits, the digital age, social networking, personal presentation, dress sense, table manners, financial etiquette, relationships, kissing/greeting/saying goodbye, mobile phones, answering invitations and thanking. Then the chapters cover everything to make a memorable occasion special and successful, covering money matter, equipment, rules & regulations, invitations, dress and dress codes for both men and women (e.g. what is white tie & tails, morning dress, highland dress, appropriate dress for hunt balls, formal, cocktail, smart casual, business dress, attending sports events etc etc.

Neighbours, safety, catering, decor, table plans, place settings, menus, drinks, correct way of serving wines & champagne, entertainment, lighting, party games, fireworks, staff & helpers, 'the morning after the night before'. Duties of the host and duties of the guests and dealing with difficult situations.

The book ends with Forms of Address, e.g. how to address members of the Royal Family, Royal Consorts, Peers of The Realm etc etc both in person and writing. Finally there is an Index showing all those referred to and photographed.

What precisely is bad manners and/or a behavioural malfunction?

Liz with Dame Shirley Bassey
I explain in my book that etiquette or good manners is to do with treating people not simply with respect but putting them at ease and making them feel comfortable. That where there is a rule there is a very good reason, so when in doubt people often simply need to use their commonsense and they will discover the solution.

You're the Queen of Etiquette. Give one example of appalling manners that drives you to faintly criminal temptation.....

One of the things which I find tedious and annoying is people who do not answer invitations. This is often due to the fact they never entertain and therefore are unaware of how not replying to an invitation causes complications when deciding on numbers of glasses, cutlery, staff etc.

For example you may be having a significant occasion and have sent out invitations to 100 guests. A couple of weeks before the event only half of the invitees have replied. You now have to figure out, are 50 guests attending or 50 guests who could possibly even be rude enough to turn up without warning you that they are bringing a guest or worse still, most of the guests attend without even replying some with guests and others without, thereby causing difficulty with the catering. Drink & food runs out, as do the glasses etc!

I also have little time for gatecrashers. There is a band of people who feel they have the right to turn up to an occasion uninvited. Perhaps one should be flattered that they consider your events are worthy of their attendance but over the years I have observed these are the non-contributors to the party scene and merely a waste of good space. I have no problem politely explaining that this is a private party and they are therefore cannot be included on this occasion.

Who is the rudest person you've ever encountered and why?

Liz Brewer with London Mayor
Boris Johnson
Concerning rudeness I have found this is usually due to the fact that the person in question is new to the social scene and has limited knowledge of how to behave. My book addresses areas which otherwise could be a minefield for newcomers to this world.

Do you think social media such as Twitter and Facebook have led to a breakdown in manners?

Social networking sites, media, Twitter and Facebook, as I explain in my book, have a place in the world in which we live today. They provide a service for people to connect. However they need to be thoroughly understood and controlled. Used correctly they can be to your advantage but should not be used simply to demonstrate that person does not have a life. Reading some of the inane remarks being twittered around the world however, it does make you wonder!

What do you think of the modern tendency to convert celebrity names into z-filled nicknames as in Chezza (Cheryl) or Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) or Shazza (Sharon Whoever). Isn't it just too common?

This is not something that really concerns me.

And finally, poppet. A challenge. Do you think you could ever turn Katie Price (aka Jordan) into an elegant princess who minds her ps 'n' qs for one evening at least? Where would you start?

Why would I want to change her? She is obviously a star in the world in which she exists and probably wouldn't fare well in a different level of society. I did do a grand job with Lily Allen .... see following link!

Liz Brewer! Thank you so much for your time. And give my love to Georgie Campbell! [Aka, Lady Colin Campbell, her publisher at Dynasty Press]

To buy Liz Brewer's Ultimate Party Guide to Party Planning and Etiquette, click here

2 comments:

Green Goddess said...

What has happened to Ivana's left breast? And Boris needs a new septum, that one is soooo crooked.

Madame Arcati said...

I'll mention it to Rachel.