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London Gets Arty for Frieze

Alexander McQueen and Etro host parties during the Frieze Art Fair.

By and
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Annabelle Neilson and Kate Moss

Alexander McQueen laid out a Henry VIII-inspired feast for a posse of not-so-starving artists on Thursday night at Christ Church Spitalfields, in east London.

Silver bowls overflowed with mussels, clams and lobster tails, while dashing waiters in kilts poured streams of Saint-Émilion from cut glass crystal decanters to guests who dined by candlelight at two long oak tables.

"All I wanted tonight was to be in bed, eating and watching 'Downton Abbey,'" said the artist Simon Fujiwara, as he tucked into a bowl of cauliflower cheese with a toasted hazelnut crust. "And I got it all — in 3D — except for the bed."

The Nicholas Hawksmoor-designed church is loaded with meaning for team McQueen: It was the venue where the late Lee Alexander McQueen presented his fall 1996 Dante collection. McQueen is an associate sponsor of the annual Frieze Art Fair for the first time. It runs through Sunday.

"We have such fond memories of this place,” said Sarah Burton, "and Lee loved Frieze. He would go every year, and now the team always goes. It’s such an inspiration."

Guests included Frieze founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, Tracey Emin, Kate Moss, John Currin and Rachel Feinstein, Sadie Coles, Solve Sundsbo, Michael Clark, Dan Macmillan, Florence Welch, Annabelle Neilson, Edie Campbell and Otis Ferry.

The evening ended with performances by the London Community Gospel Choir.

Meanwhile, at the Etro store on Bond Street, the tongue-in-cheek works of Indian art duo Thukral & Tagra were hanging along the stairwell for a party to celebrate Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra, with whom Etro has collaborated on a collection of leather goods.

The 11 pieces, ranging from satchels to iPad cases, feature the artists' graphic take on Etro's signature paisley motif through an intricate tessellation. Printed on top of the pattern is a surreal floating island of verdant plants, a white house, and some incongruous candy canes.

"I was really shocked at the beginning because instead of working with the paisley in a very detailed Etro way, they got back to the root of the paisley; they went back to the beginning," said Jacopo Etro.

Thukral & Tagra’s work is to be shown as part of a group show, called "Island", at the Dairy Art Centre in London until Dec. 8.