If you're new to the Auckland social scene, here's a quick guide to who's who on Planet Socialite.
1. NAME: Gilda Kirkpatrick
STATUS: Queen of the scene. Perched at the pinnacle of the Auckland circuit from her castle on Paritai, Gilda has it all: money, status and power.
STYLE: Glitz and glamour.
2. NAME: Amanda Hotchin
STATUS: Widely regarded as a "nice party girl" - code for boring - Hotchin is Kirkpatrick's rival and infinitely richer according to the NBR Rich List, though that's dismissed among the echelons of the old-money set, who are known for playing down their reported wealth despite parading it in Bentleys, jewels and first-class fares.
STYLE: Chic sophisticate.
3. NAME: Roxane Horton
STATUS: The Queen Rania of the charity circuit. Gorgeous, glossy, educated (masters degree from Ivy League college) and mother-of-two. Married to Matthew Horton, she is the Chair of the Friends of the Liggins Institute.
STYLE: Understated elegance.
4. NAME: Gretchen Hawkesby
STATUS: Billionaire daughter. You'd be forgiven for thinking Graeme Hart's little girl is a right spoilt brat but you'd be wrong. Married to Kate's bro Duncan, this mother-of-four oozes common sense and charm.
STYLE: Royal country casual
5. NAME: Annabel Fay
STATUS: The one with a job. Singer/songwriter signed to EMI with a debut album out and another on the way. She opened for Westlife and partied with Bono and The Edge at her family digs on "the Island" (Mercury) in 2006.
STYLE: Rock chick chic
NAME: Pearl Going
STATUS: Gilda 2009? Wide-eyed newbie who's bringing a dose of Park Ave princess to Auckland with her own range of designer jeans and ethical handbags. Tres Tinsley. She's touted as pretender to the Gilda crown.
STYLE: Demure and casual.
RANKING: Yet to be ranked.
A PEARL IN THE SOCIALITE SET
The girl on everyone's lips at the moment is gorgeous young socialite Pearl Going (pictured above - far right). She's the It girl du jour. The hottest property on the party circuit. And she's determined to leave her mark.
She texts me - would I like to meet. I'm curious, I've heard a lot about Ms Going, rumours she had dated Richie McCaw, sailed with Richard Branson, is chums with NYC society queen Tinsley Mortimer. The answers, I learn later, are no to the Richies, but yes, she is friends with the Tinz.
We agree to Ponsonby cafe Bambina. She arrives bearing a Starbucks flask of piping hot coffee. I'd have thought bringing your own coffee to a coffee house is a big no-no in Socialite Cafe etiquette.
I like her immediately. She's whippet-thin with piercing blue eyes. Fashion is her game, and like Park Avenue princess Tinsley, Going has her own handbag line. They're made from biodegradable pleather, she tells me.
And then there's the designer jeans collection - but they're only sold in LA, she says. They're too expensive for this market. Come Fashion Week in September, Going will be behind the Eco Show, a runway show dedicated to ethical fashion. She's signing up designers now to create specific pieces.
Pearl's a socialite with a purpose - an oxymoron, you ask? Apparently not. Roxane Horton (No. 3 in the Spy socialite ranking) heads the Friends of the Liggins Institute; Annabel Fay is a successful singer-songwriter paving the way for female musos.
Sometimes it seems everyone is a socialite or a celebrity these days. We're all getting our 15 minutes. Andy in New York was right. It's great to see that some are experts on the "currency of celebrity" and putting it to good use. Public thank you to Bono, Sean Penn and Faye Dunaway for helping out my mate, Donny Paterson with his work, resulting in 'The Third Wave'. Socialites and celebrities with just as much substance as style, does it for me, and I suspect many more in and around media and philanthropic circles.
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