Click to see Tyne on CNN Style
“An eccentric is not trying to define themselves, they’re born seeking a different way,” explains Tyne O’Connell, and if anyone should know, it’s her. The Mayfair-based author and socialite seems to have been torn straight from the pages of an Evelyn Waugh novel; with her cut-glass accent, perma-fixed tiara and layers of pearls.
Despite recently being diagnosed with a brain tumour, O’Connell has continued to embrace the extraordinary.
“I just feel life is so brief and we should be celebrating and make the most of every moment, so we’re doing a disservice to ourselves by not wearing our finest, our Sunday best, every day,” she says.
15 SEPTEMBER 2017
Art is living outside the safety of the well-trod ancient pathways,
t’is the quest for the perfect ball-gown, the perfect word, the perfect arrangement of notes & harmonies, the perfect set-design, the perfect way to mix a cocktail and turn around when the moment least demands it, and the gramophone’s not been wound and say “I think we need a 17th Century Sedan Chair, darling…”
It is the plastic bucket on a rope,
dropped from my 4th floor walk up on Mount Street in Mayfair,
Awaiting a dozen oysters & a bottle of Ruinart to be placed inside from the chaps at Scotts Restaurant a few doors down. I would ring them every evening when I couldn’t face the stairs
The quotidian rendered glorious by time.
The alchemy of eccentricity is the transmutation of disappointment & loss into a celebration of opulence,
A bandage wrapped around the crumbling Mayfair castle of my dreams & the transformation of my brain-tumour, fractured-bones & mortal-inadequacies, exulted into arts-works, stretched on a dozen canvases & glazed with hope & regret.
I watch them floating along the Venice Canals,
A cotillion of suffering transfigured by the Renaissance splendour of the Floating City.
Tourists watch & take selfies as the glazed canvases pass under the historic agonies of The Bridge of Sighs
Like the faded picture postcards of another woman’s life.
All is made glorious in retrospect-
The Holy Grail of Life,
The fragile, precious exquisite gift
we never know we’ve been bequeathed…
until it begins to slip away…
Yet there’s no truth in being an eccentric if you don’t accept the world is going to mock you & break your heart.
Diagnosed with a brain tumour, I protected myself with an antique tiara and red-lipstick Armour against the pity and concern for others-
the flickering candles of the endless stream of Mayfair balls and occasions that have marked my life,
Resplendent in the poetry of a ruby encrusted collar around my neck,
Swathed in a ballgown as blue as all the bluebell woods I dashed through in my youth…
Swirling under the chandelier-ed ballrooms in mirrored-walled palaces,
Spinning and whirling until we dashed into that fading night
on a champagne fountain of laughter and lost slippers.
We may die tomorrow
But in this moment we have opera, we have art and we have a ball-gown the colour of bluebells…
We go dashing through the moonbeams into a stream of endless memories……
Tyne O’Connell is a Mayfair based author of 13 International bestselling novels. She often writes about lawyers, toffs, princes, Mayfair and Hollywood.
“Tyne is a triple threat. Not only is she a talented novelist and Mayfair Historian, but she is also impeccably elegant whilst she was recently awarded Eccentric Thinker of The Year by the Eccentrics Club (patron HRH Prince Philip),” says Annette Bette Kellow of the Huffington Post.
Tyne and Annette caught up over a sumptious afternoon tea to talk dandizettes, salonnieres and eccentrics.
Tyne On Tiaras
“Tiaras are one of the many perks of being a married woman. When I was a young girl, I was excited to be married so I could wear a variation. Quite a lot of my tiaras are Georgian, Victorian, Regency or from the French Empire period. They include Rose cut diamonds, pearls and sapphires. It is always best to keep a spare tiara in your handbag as you never know when you’ll need it. Then you can simply slip it on at a moment’s notice and your ready for your close up…”
For more go to Tyne O’Connell on Huffpost
When Michaela Frankova asked Tyne O’Connell to close her catwalk show for her Spring Summer 2018 collection, opulence, drama and eccentricity ensued. Frankova’s wonderful designs with textures of lace and silk, beautifully cut and finished, allow the wearer to dress up… and to dress up is to ascend.
Michaela Frankova fox trots her way back to London fashion week with her Spring Summer 2018 collection, inspired by old classic Hollywood glamour and cinema movie stars such as Lauren Bacall and Greta Garbo from the 1920’s to 1940’s. Following her collection Michaela has incorporated her signature style to this era adding graphics works from digital artist T-Mo Bauer adding a youthful and elegant approach to this glamourous range. Using a variety of fabrics in her collection including rich and luxurious silks, hand embroidered lace and scuba jersey which add a contemporary edge to these timeless classics.
WJ London’s review of Michaela Frankova’s SS2018 show said “…as the music reached a crescendo, Frankova’s ultimate Golden Age woman arrived on the catwalk, wearing a decadent evening dress in cornflower blue and silver shades. Shoeless and clutching a Venetian eye mask, she laughed and spun down the catwalk. And it was this that summed up Frankova’s collection perfectly; opulent and dramatic pieces that emphasise the individual, enigmatic character of anyone who wears them.” Katharine Bennett @misskatebennett
Tyne is giddy with anticipation to be part of London Fashion Week where I will be walking the catwalk for Michaela Frankova as part of the Scout Spring Summer Schedule 18. The show is being held in Covent Garden the area built by Inigo Jones for Charles I and Henrietta Maria. CNN have been filming Tyne for a documentary on eccentrics which will be aired the same night.
FASHION SCOUT LONDON
60 GREAT QUEEN STREET
Tyne O’Connell St James Hotel and Club with CNN Style filming Eccentrics – In this glamorous grand red brick hotel tucked behind the Ritz Hotel, my father once drank Martinis with Ian Fleming when Ian Fleming lived here typing his 007 James Bond mysteries. Back then it was a block of flats – now it is the reassuringly discreet and chic St James Hotel and Club with London’s best gin bar a mixture of comfort and splendour, where I once lost a 5ct diamond in a scene of such hilarity and terror it really should be featured in one of my books.
But then such antics are the norm not the exception in Mayfair and St James’s which is why it’s been home to eccentrics from Margaret Cavendish, Oscar Wilde Nancy Mitford, Lord Byron, Countess Ada Lovelace (or as her father Lord Byron called her Princess Parallelogram) …for Mayfair was designed by the words first woman architect – Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham – under commission from King Charles II as a home for Eccentrics and to this day Mayfair remains a unique home to the world’s eccentrics. We feel safe here. Unlike Soho where Quentin Crisp was regularly the victim of attacks, he told me he felt quite safe to wander Mayfair….reassured that his most eccentric behaviour or sartorial flourish would raise many an eyebrow. It’s why I’ve spent my life here and raised my three children and two husbands here. Why I’m proud to call Mayfair home – it’s where my heart always has, and always will be. xxx
Eccentric Swan Of St James’s Park London Makes A Bold Grab For Author’s Diamond
I took time out of filming with CNN Style on Eccentrics today to share a moment with my favourite swan Willomena who shares my love of Chaumet and diamonds. She took time to apprise herself of my diamonds over several minutes before making the bold attempt of nipping the diamond out of its Chaumet Tiara setting with the accuracy of a Hatton Garden jewel thief of old.
St James Park London was gifted to us by King Charles II in 1660 which was previously the hunting grounds attached to the palace. He had it designed when his cousin The Sun King was building the gardens of Versailles. The lakes, fountains and bridges are a lasting testament to the monarchs love of poultry of all persuasions, especially ducks. Ducks, like spaniels, followed him throughout the palaces of Whitehall and St James’s and through the streets of Mayfair as he oversaw construction of the area which Cromwell had used as his Killing Fields during his pogrom on Eccentrics, artists and lovers of beauty and pleasure.
The king’s lifetime love of ducks was reciprocated. The ducks adored him and like his spaniels slept outside his bedroom door at night.
The Guardian Meets Tyne O’Connell, writer. She eats at the Wolseley in Mayfair, London, every day.
I stumbled across the Wolseley by accident when it had only just opened in 2003. I ordered the steak tartare, and I’ve eaten it pretty much every single day since. People find it extraordinary that I eat the same meal every day, but I don’t have the kind of palate that yearns for change.
I normally eat only one meal a day, usually around 7 pm. I never cook for myself – I don’t have a kitchen at home, just a mini-bar-sized refrigerator. They serve what I like to call nursery food. My mother used to feed me raw fillet mince when I was in my high chair, so for me, steak tartare is nursery food.
I live nearby, so it’s like a local cafe. The staff are always very accommodating. I broke my hip earlier this year, and now they put a special cushion on my chair. They always seat me at the same table; it’s where they put celebrities, so they’re not going to have people jumping all over them. It’s often occupied by people who are in a West End production, such as Bill Nighy or Michael Gambon; I call them my grandpa crushes.
Lucian Freud always sat at the table opposite mine, and he’d come in every day, too
When I come in, all the waiters say hello, and often the actors will presume that they know me and jump up to say hello. I’ve had a cuddle from Tom Conti and Michael Gambon that way. I once sat next to Lauren Bacall and we accidentally put our hands into each other’s bags.
Lucian Freud always sat at the table opposite mine, and he’d come in every day, too. He travelled everywhere in the same black cab, so John the doorman would get Lucian’s cabbie to drop me home at night. This cabbie would regale me with tales about the Freuds, and how he’d spent a lifetime trying to persuade Lucian to paint his wife.
My daughter is 24 and will often call me and say, “I’ve had a terrible day. Are you at the Wolseley?” And of course I always am, so she’ll join me and I’ll buy her a glass of champagne and a slice of Battenberg. Even when my ex-husband, who lives in Dubai, comes to town, he’ll just say, “Can you book?” The word Wolseley doesn’t pass his lips because he knows that’s where it’ll be.
The Guardian meets…
Upon the Restoration of King CharlesII when London was really swinging our national identity was formed by 5 Extraordinary, Glamorous, witty, Subversive women of vision who created a shopping Mecca of glass fronted arcades & residential mansions on garden squares; where drawing rooms teamed with eccentrics, sipping on tea & champagne discussing subversive ideas, Art & fashion putting Mayfair on the map as the birthplace of the British Enlightenment in 1667.
1) The eccentric cross-dressing Queen Catherine of Braganza funded the building & introduced tea as the fashionable drink – setting the trend for Tea Salons in which women wrote & performed subversive plays, read poetry & discussed proto-feminism & philosophy. Catherine of Braganza also created shopping as a national pastime, as exotic goods poured into London from her port cities of Bombay & Tangiers.
2) Dame Mary Grosvenor – nee Davies, the young heiress who owned the land upon which Mayfair & St James’s was built.
3) Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham; the world’s first woman architects whom designed Mayfair & London’s most magnificent landmarks (attributing her work to her pet pupil Christopher Wren for her husbands reputation).
4) Spy & Playwright Aphra Behn (Agent 160) had saved the British Fleet & led a slave rebellion in Surinam before becoming the greatest playwright & wit of the age. Coining the phrase “she stoops to conquer” she inspired the women of the Restoration to dare.
5) the Proto-Feminist, Eccentric Fashionista, Style Maven & author, Margaret Cavendish – The Duchess of Newcastle – known as Mad-Madge added the glamour to Mayfair, ensuring that by 1678 Mayfair was the place to be.
I’ve spent most of my life – over 40years living in Mayfair on Mount St – raising 2 husbands & 3 children whilst writing 13 books- I’m part of the warp & woof of Mayfair St James’s. Discovering through my research Mayfair was created, built & funded by women as an enclave for eccentrics & fashion inspired this project
A Night in Mayfair with Tyne O’Connell
I’m out of hospital; rattling with pills, my veins ruined from ineptly inserted catheters. I snuck out as all the medics can do now is “monitor” me and my iPhone can do that.
I’m an infamous runaway-patient and expertly remove catheters as other mothers remove splinters.
My family have been conspiring in my hospital escapes since I first gave birth to my daughter in the bath, assuring all I wasn’t in labour at all. I just needed a “nice little soak.”
O’Connell women have a predisposition for absconding & dissent and my husbands and children have aided me in my Mayfair Escapades more than expected, despite my prenup full disclosure.
I strictly adhere to tradition etiquette & good-manners but hospital-confinement, panjandrums & men-in-polyester-uniforms make me bolt. My children suffered terribly with me constantly urging them to “skip school darling & spend the day with Mummy” at the V&A Fortnum’s or “playing with jewels at Aspreys.”
Probably why they ran away to boarding school.
They were frequently pressed to rescue me in scaling over the church gates of Mount St Gardens when I’d come home from Park Lane revelry after the church gates had already been locked.
For a night in Mayfair I probably could have found an alternative route to our Mount Street flat but when it comes to navigation skills, I score about as low as a Spaniel.
Getting up the blessed gates was a breeze, but once up I couldn’t face the drop. I’d phone the family & they’d all clamber onto the window-seat on Mount St Mayfair & look down on me dangling off the gate post like a distressed cat.
After their laughter & general merriment, the husbands & children would eventually clamber down the four flights of stairs with the ladder & rescue me.
Throughout my self-inflicted “spot-of-bother” (as I described these regular predicaments to my own mad-madre) Jesuit Priests, Mayfair doormen & patrons of Scott’s would amble past without a second glance.
It takes more than a Mad-Mayfair-Matron in six-inch crocodile shoes dangling from the church gates to raise an eyebrow in My Manor!
Not without reason has Mayfair & St James’s been home to Roman Catholics eccentrics royals spies & bluestocking-salons.
Beau Brummell wore a corset!
Corsets and Girdles – Let the silhouette reign in Mayfair & St James’s – Corsetry for all I say!
A girdle is liberating. It strengthens posture and makes a woman stand tall and look a man in the eye – or through him should the need arise.
Girdles bolster confidence and define a silhouette and unlike heels you can run in them.
I am grateful to my Mummy – a strident feminist – for forcing me into a girdle when I was pregnant. “No need to sacrifice your figure or your back – no child will thank you for embarrassing them with poor posture !”
My darling Daddy wasn’t thrilled when he too was finally chivvied into his first man-girdle & bra in his seventies. But Mummy was not-for-Turning! Declaring “I can’t play tennis with you when your breasts are flapping all over the court. And poor Bob doesn’t want to be distracted by your breasts flopping about the cafe while he’s trying to enjoy his latte”
My father knew his fate was sealed as he was marched off to the corset store & fitted for his first girdle & bra at age 77.
To be fair he never moaned about his back again.
His tailor at Anderson & Shepherd comforted him with the words “If it’s good enough for Beau Brummell it’s good enough for you Sir.”
Corsets and Girdles for all I say! Let the #silhouette-reign once more in Mayfair & St James’s.