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Chief correspondent Steven Smith found it impossible to resist an invitation that would allow him to not only enjoy a champagne and gin-soaked afternoon tea, but which would also give him the chance to sample a fragrance steeped in history going back to the 18th century: a refined and sophisticated parfum with an audacious composition and its own exquisite olfactory signature dripping with French savoir-faire and developed from a unique palette of rare ingredients. Finally! Something to tear Steven away from his sofa and the Queen Vic!

As if the invitation could not have been more enticing, it was being held at a beautiful Queen Anne country house, Braxted Park in Essex. Naturally, I could not go alone; it was a royal occasion that demanded an exceptional entourage. So, I brought along my favourite queens and OutNewsGlobal favourites: actress and FHM cover girl Danielle Mason, Mr Fabulous, hot on the heels of his dazzling debut movie premiere, and the divine David Anthony.

All of their perfumes are unique and inspired by the 18th century French nobility, presumably before they had their heads removed

It promised to be a night fit for a queen or king. Although, on that rainy afternoon, my chauffeur for the night, the Contessa Sharrock, was an hour late picking me up from Chelmsford railway station owing to her satnav being interfered with and sending her to Stansted Airport. Anyway, satnav suitably chided, and with my heart in my mouth, moments later we were speeding down the motorway, the rain belting down on Pam’s new car. The windows steamed up as we narrowly missed a juggernaut which, thinking about it, was quite unlucky as there are hardly any lorry drivers left post-Brexit. She was skipping lanes, valiantly trying to clean the window with one hand and just about managing to steer with the other, almost taking a white Transit violently up the rear end. “Stop moaning, or I’ll punch you. I am just getting used to the car,” she spluttered in a somewhat less than regal voice. 

Motoring up the sweeping driveway of Braxted Park, I am not sure if it was heaven and I had died on the motorway as a result of Pam’s appalling road craft. Braxted is truly breathtaking, with the original building dating back to 1342, only slightly older than OutNewsGlobal Editor Rob Harkavy. These days, it is used for weddings and events and, honestly, it is a fairy tale setting. Everyone was extremely gay friendly, so if anyone would like to get down on one knee and ask me, this would be my dream wedding venue. Anyone? ANYONE???

The event was in aid of one of the world’s most elite perfume brands, Parfums de Marly and their new perfume “Oriana”. All of their perfumes are unique and inspired by the 18th century French nobility, presumably before they had their heads removed from the rest of their bodies during the revolution. Created by the company’s artistic director Julien Sprecher, Oriana is a floral and fruity fragrance with sweetness and softness. Julien explains that colours and fragrance are linked and that colours evoking fragrances. I really loved it.

Once inside, a lavish, pink-themed afternoon tea, topped with champagne and pink gin, cleverly mirroring the perfume’s pink hue with an effortless style that only the French can carry off. Celebs were out in force: Frankie Essex (Joey’s sister) wearing the latest must-have, award-winning Sole Bliss Miracle Trainers; Actor Brad Moore; Richard Rowson, aka Fazer and formerly of N-Dubz with his partner Ashley-Emma, and Kieran Hayler with fiancée Michelle and their baby son, Apollo Phoenix. Even dancer Zac Smith from Channel 4’s The Bridge and performer Connor Stringer, from Cirque du Soleil, popped in to add a little spice to the proceedings, not to mention a little bit of flesh. Mmmm.

Jay Kamiraz looked in his element. As he stood sipping a Malfy Gin, flagged by Zac and Connor, he summed up the event, “Pure opulence. What an exquisite perfume; in one word, fabulous.”

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Steven Smith

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