Alex Eagle: ‘It’s cosy, which really works with the gothic vibe’
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“A great party is when genuine friendships are ignited,” says creative director Alex Eagle. “I don’t know if I’m good at much, but I do feel I’m good at bringing people together, and them becoming friends.”
Tonight’s guests are “some old friends, some new”: family, school friends, creative partners, and resident artists at 180 The Strand, the brutalist London building where Eagle has her Sporting Club. They include poet and artist Julianknxx; Eagle’s 21-year‑old stepdaughter Libby Joy; Andrea Gelardin, former creative director for Lady Gaga; and yoga powerhouse Adrienne Everett.
The setting is Oakley Court, the 19th-century neo-gothic mansion house on the River Thames (The Rocky Horror Picture Show was filmed here), where Eagle is creative director. “It feels more like a home, even though it’s a hotel,” she says. “It’s nothing too formal; more help yourself.” Inside the drawing room – arts and crafts with a Japanese twist – the two fires are roaring, the moss velvet-edged curtains drawn tight, and the mantels covered in clusters of candles. “It’s cosy, which really works with the gothic vibe,” says Eagle.
Cosy definitely does not mean dressed-down. Eagle is in a signature own-brand black tuxedo; Lithuanian artist Indrė Šerpytytė and journalist Osman Ahmed are in its white counterparts, Libby Joy is draped in a scarlet velvet cape coat and Geldarin is in a swathe of gold brocade. The handbags are almost worthy of their own invitations.
Negronis, whisky sours and champagne are served in Eagle and Hodges handblown glasses. “If you have a really nice glass, everything tastes better,” says Eagle. And “nothing too matchy-matchy,” she scoffs. “And lots of different kinds of glasses – I don’t necessarily use a wine glass for wine or a Martini glass for a Martini.” Eagle herself is sipping a (non-alcoholic) Tanqueray Zero and tonic with a sprig of rosemary from the kitchen garden. “Enough bloody elderflower and fizzy water! Now lots of people don’t drink, it’s important to have really good mocktails.” Non-alcoholic Palomas, with fresh grapefruit and soda, are also a “delicious” substitute.
Canapés decorate low tables around the room; small in number but substantial in size. “I’d rather have a plate of less, but where each one is generous. That feels really sumptuous and luxurious,” says Eagle. Tonight’s snacks are jewel-like Japanese bites from Oakley Court’s chef Akira: slivers of salmon and tuna tied with edible ribbons. Each could be one course from the omakase menu he leads in the dining room.
In the corner is a stack of records. “We never have music piped out of the speaker,” says Eagle, “My husband owns the old EMI vinyl pressing plant; he’s mad about vinyl, it’s always records playing. Vinyl makes a big difference; people always interact, choosing records.” It’s one more way for new friendships to begin.