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Julia’s Gown, Madness Returns, Caroling: London Weekend

December 22, 2012

'Valentino: Master of Couture'

A 1968 wedding dress belonging to Jackie Onassis, left, in a catwalk display at the "Valentino: Master of Couture" exhibition at Somerset House in London. The show, featuring over 130 hand crafted designs worn by Hollywood icons and Royalty, runs until March 3, 2013. Photographer: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images/Somerset House via Bloomberg

Kylie Minogue joins with Jason Donovan to get London’s Christmas party started at the O2.

The Australian stars lead Hit Factory Live, a celebration of the music produced by Pete Waterman. Heartthrobs Steps, Bananarama, Rick Astley and Dead or Alive also feature. (The event had been due to take place in Hyde Park in July, then got canceled as heavy rain turned the site into a mud bath.)

Madness takes over the O2 after that. Expect large doses of cheeky-chappie Cockney humor and hits such as “Our House,” “Driving in My Car” and “It Must Be Love.” The Camden “nutty boys” will also perform songs from their new studio album “Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da,” released after their Jubilee and Olympics concerts.

O2, Peninsula Sq., SE10 0DX. Hit Factory Friday, Madness Saturday. Information: +44-20-8463-2000 or,


Remember the ivory-and-black gown that Julia Roberts wore to pick up her Oscar in 2001?

It’s hanging on a mannequin in “Valentino: Master of Couture,” a handsome tribute to the Roman maestro held inside the grand riverside quarters of Somerset House.

Don’t go expecting red gowns all over the place: A dizzying variety of cuts and colors are worn by mannequins parked on a high steel catwalk. There’s the dress that Jackie Kennedy wore to wed Aristotle Onassis, and the black crepe number that actress Monica Vitti pouted in for the 1961 “La Notte” (directed by Michelangelo Antonioni). It looks as if it was sewn yesterday.

Downstairs are vitrines crammed with adoring messages from Kennedy and Donatella Versace (“You are and always will be numero uno,” she gushes in handwritten Italian.) There’s also a 1991 apology note from Meryl Streep, who says she’ll miss Valentino’s 30th-anniversary bash because “we are expecting a baby that very weekend.”

Who said fashion exhibitions were dull?

“Valentino: Master of Couture” is at Somerset house through March 3, 2013. Information:

Delaunay is an elegant European restaurant and cafe a short walk from Somerset House. It’s owned by the same people as the Wolseley and attracts a similar celebrity crowd. Information: or +44-20-7499-8558.

Saturday Night

“Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” “Why Can’t You Behave?,” “Always True to You in My Fashion,” “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.” The hits just keep on coming in Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate,” which is enjoying a suitably festive revival by director Trevor Nunn at the Old Vic.

Hannah Waddingham seduces everyone in sight with her “So in Love” number as leading lady Lilli Vanessi. “Too Darned Hot” starts the second half with choreographer Stephen Mear letting the entire cast run riot over the stage.

The Old Vic, 103 The Cut, London, SE1 8NB. Information: and or +44- 844-871-7628.


A full weekend of carol concerts and singalongs is lined up at the Royal Albert Hall so you can celebrate Christ’s birth in music.

On Sunday evening at 8 p.m. (and Saturday evening at the same time), the circular building will be candlelit for carols and a performance of Handel, Mozart, and Vivaldi by the Mozart Festival Chorus and Orchestra -- in full 18th-century costume. The concert is repeated Monday at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP. Information: +44-845-401-5045;

Haandi is an East African-owned Indian restaurant serving first-class food. It’s a 10-minute walk from the Albert Hall and has stood the test of time against competing establishments on the Brompton Road. Information: +44-20-7823-7373 or

(Farah Nayeri and Mark Beech write for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are their own.)

Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on arts, Mark Beech on music, Richard Vines on food and Lewis Lapham on history.

To contact the writers on this story: Farah Nayeri in London at and Mark Beech in London at or

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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