The Berkeley Hotel London Brings Back Prêt-à-Portea w/ Isabel Marant, Anna Wintour

Just this week, as reported by Reuters, a coalition of travel, airline and airport groups wrote a letter to American President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging them to fully reopen the US-UK travel corridor, in light of the effectiveness of vaccination programs on both sides of the Atlantic. And that’s now looking more and more like a possibility by mid-summer.

So, with caution, it’s surely a good time to consider all those things that we, as committed Anglophiles, have been missing since the lockdowns last March decisively halted transatlantic travel.

Now surely, epicurean indulgences might seem a tad frivolous at such a moment as this. But then again, what better time for frivolity and indulgence than at the other end of fifteen months of fear and anxiety? And what has become one of London’s most whimsical recurring events is The Berkeley Hotel‘s annual fashion tea collaboration, which takes a staid old tradition, and decisively fabs it up.

The Berkeley, of course, is the storied Knightsbridge hotel which remains at the center of all that is electric and buzzworthy in the capital, regularly playing host to a particularly glittering guest list. Indeed, everyone from Madonna to Penelope Cruz, Kendall Jenner to Kate Moss and naturally Victoria Beckham have roamed its plush corridors. And likely many of the same have popped in for Prêt-à-Portea, the most tres-chic afternoon tea, well…ever.

This year’s collab is with the usually iconic fashion houses, as well as a few high-profile first timers. As to the former, Donatella Versace took inspiration from her own ocean-inspired cocktail dress to conjure a coconut darquoise and mango confit encased with exotic fruit mousse, topped off with a sugar starfish – because, why not? And a Tod’s neon handbag became a Victoria sponge, glazed with acid-lime icing, sandwiched between florescent green Valrhona chocolate Ivoire. Dee-lish, certainly.

But a pair of noteworthy newcomers add a dash of daring, with Isabel Marant‘s glittery, disco-inspired purple ensemble becoming an almond sponge, with a beriolette jelly centre, glazed in glittering purple and topped off with a matching chocolate bow; and Halpern, um, taking the cake, reimagining its feather couture mini gown as a light financier cake with raspberry compote, complete with Amatika chocolate dome with praline crunch, topped off with grue de cacao, and with a pair of legs (back wafers) exuberantly kicking aloft.

And for a particularly cheeky touch, the hotel’s own pastry team created a vanilla biscuit homage to the First Lady of Fashion herself, Anna Wintour.

“Every season we study each and every fashion show,” enthuses Executive Pastry Chef Mourad Khiat, “looking for the stand out looks that we can then magic into cakes for our fashion-obsessed guests. The September Spring/Summer shows looked a little different, due to the global pandemic; but the designers still managed to inspire and dazzle in new and imaginative ways. We hope that the sheer fantasy of catwalk fashion will delight those returning for Prêt-à-Portea.”

Be assured, we’re already making reservations.

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