Sizing up the Assizes
“Before Angelo drove his car off the ravine, he was having one of the best nights of his life.” Cut to the chase. It’s the hippest hangout in town right now and we’ve nabbed the hottest table somehow. Everybody and we mean everybody is here: full of the type of people one should know. There’s no sign for the entrance to Sessions Arts Club. That would be just too prosaic. The red entrance door (matching the Giles Gilbert Scott telephone box on the pavement) opens to reveal a curated world of enigma and intrigue. A sunshiny day gives way to a literally and laterally dark space – the unwindowed entrance hall was once a holding cell. And it’s here that things start to go a little crazy. Zany has a new. Rhubarb Bellinis please! “She had endless moral fortitude.”
Performance artist Sarah Baker’s book Baroness Versace Holiday Saga sits on a shelf in the hall. Next to it is her bestseller cassette in a glass dome. Over to the story, “Calling the shots from beneath her Versace satin sheets, Baroness is back for the holiday season with her scintillating book Baroness by Sarah Baker – with our esteemed guest editor, Donatella Versace. Baroness serves a scorching holiday cocktail, mixing lust, jealousy, and greed. Following the lives of five outrageous characters as they navigate tumultuous affairs, the story begins when American music mogul Angelina Marina, played by Baker, receives an unwanted holiday gift, inadvertently opening a sordid, seasonal tale of tangled lives and treachery. Everything is at stake – Angelina’s freedom, the loyalty of her daughter, her friendship with the Baroness, and worst of all – the royalties of her hit single, ‘Spritz Me With Your Love’. Baroness is a riotous whirl of Versace style, rosé Champagne, scandalous associations and the sexiest men in town. But be careful when admiring your own reflection… someone may be plotting behind your back!”
“Baroness Ruby was the epitome of elegance. She possessed an arresting quality of beauty and an aristocratic bearing and worldliness that seemed unobtainable to Angelina.” Swedish owners Sätila Studios’ pioneering entrée into the London scene is astonishing in its brilliance. A dark gorgeousness unfolds on every level – well especially the fourth – as a wood and brass lift whisks us heavenwards to the former judges’ dining room. The restaurant is carved out of this space with a mezzanine added and topped by no fewer than three intimate roof terraces. It’s all faded grandeur and free of – so sorry Angelina! – spritzed up bling. The Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen’s bathroom is lit by an internal Diocletian window looking for all the world like a fanlight on steroids. The view earthwards is of all four storeys of the vast void of the former court atrium. Visual drama has replaced the legal variety. Suits us. Architect Thomas Rogers’ 1782 Palladian place of reform part remodelled by Frederick Hyde Pownall in 1860 reinvented for the swinging 2020s.
“She was a world class spy who had been working undercover since she was a teenager.” Chef Florence Knight goes to town and back on seafood supreme. Lunch is a little hazy – Friday is the new Friday after all – and flows from panisse and cod’s roe pane carasau to cavolo Nero and anchovy via beetroot, goat’s curd and olive crumb before landing on eel, rocket, crème fraîche and more roe. “Such a good wee thing,” comes our Glaswegian delivered pudding. Rhubarb and vanilla ice cream with shortbread.“Little did Angelo and Jack know that Angelo was Cairo’s father. Little did Angelina know that Angela and Jacob were plotting against her. Little did Cairo know that money and power often eclipse true love. The Baroness holds the truth. But can the truth save them?”
“Baroness Ruby had a particular fondness for bubbly and she loved a good party. Especially one with a dramatic ending.” Angelina Marina’s arch enemy, her nemesis, her absolute rival, is Baroness Ruby played by model Helena Christensen. A whole new world of desire, Sessions Arts Club is like an orchid blooming. A fine, rare, dramatic moment in time. As for that name, well, sessions aren’t just legal history they’re what Friday afternoons are all about; it’s clubby but it’s not a club; and oh ah it’s so very artsy. Wow here comes the Baroness! Espresso martinis thank you! Cut. Can life get any more fabulous? Absolutely! After Evensong at St Bartholomew the Great Cloth Fair London we’re off to The Castle. “One thing was certain, Angelina needed to look flawless.”