Kasimiras legendary parties are the talk of the town says Bianca Brigitte Bonomi
Kasimira’s legendary parties are the talk of the town says Bianca Brigitte Bonomi
THERE ARE TWO types of party people: those who breeze into a room and excite thronging crowds with dazzling looks and sparkling conversation and those who labour behind the scenes to make the whole affair look effortless. Marina Fogle and Vanessa Story, founders of Kasimira Party Organisers, annoyingly fit into both groups.
Six years ago, the childhood friends decided that London needed an injection of fun and set up Kasimira. Planning everything from children’s parties to product launches and weddings, the pair has quickly usurped the competition. ‘People warned us against starting a business together,’ says Marina, wife of presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle. ‘But I’m really lucky with Vanessa. There’s no way I could have done it without her.’
The party planners and social sirens are regulars on the London scene. They know what works and what doesn’t and as such, are precisely the sort of people you want throwing your party. Quick-witted, sharp and smart, they remain unfazed by the greatest of challenges and will stop at nothing to realise their clients’ dreams. They count A-listers and royalty amongst their clients and were hand-picked to help organise the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations for 3,500 guests at Buckingham Palace.
Theirs are parties that you look forward to months in advance. A Kasimira invitation sends out a tingle; a jolt of pure pleasure and anticipation. They don’t need to advertise their services, attracting new clients through word of mouth alone. Renowned for their discretion, the girls are happy to sign pre-party agreements and firmly believe that what happens at a party stays at the party.
They are equally discerning about the people they work with. ‘We select clients that we enjoy spending time with. It’s important that we click,’ says Marina. In recent years, party planning has exploded. ‘People work hard and play hard,’ she continues, ‘and when you party you want to relax into it and not have to work at it.’
THOUGH MOBILE AND internet technology has made the world smaller, the party remains fundamental to social cohesion and friendship. In a time of depression, they are more important than ever. ‘People have realized that it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom.’ says Vanessa of the economic climate. ‘We need to have fun and you don’t need to spend the earth to have an amazing party.’
Shows like MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, which follows precocious youngsters donning Beyoncé-style attire in grotesque pink limousines, have become TV staples. Humorous as they are, they fail to reflect the aesthetic of a Kasimira party, which is about more than tit tape and bling. ‘Our clients don’t want their wealth showcased in that way,’ says Marina. ‘And we’re not always running around with walkie-talkies and clipboards,’ adds Vanessa.
With society parties becoming increasingly fantastical in nature, the role of the host has become increasingly taxing. Aiming for good food, attractive lighting and ‘dark spots’ (to conceal and encourage illicit dalliances) will no longer suffice. Guests demand carefully-choreographed drama, vibrancy and excess. Throwing a party is never as exciting as being at one.
‘The host needs to be really relaxed,’ says Vanessa. ‘A stressed host means stressed guests.’ Which, translated, means a tedious party. Kasimira allow the host to be a host: welcoming guests and working the room rather than panicking about seating or what to do if it rains.
For many of Kasimira’s clients, the sky’s the limit. Vanessa tells me about a Batman party that the pair threw for a client last year; the spectacular production rivalled a Britney Spears video. ‘The client asked us for something edgy, so we used UV graffiti paint, indoor fireworks, a Batman inspired contraption to lower him from the ceiling and a laser show.’
‘Oh, and 1,000 LED fluttering bats.’
Elsewhere, the dynamic duo and their team created a mini-festival modeled on Glastonbury in a Gloucestershire field. The client demanded a fifteen-hour party marathon which included fancy dress, an on-site walk-in-wardrobe, fairground rides, incredible live acts, brilliant DJs, fireworks, and a Brazilian marching band.
SMALL-SCALE DISASTERS do, inevitably, occur. The girls have dealt with stolen furniture, flooded marquees and unreliable suppliers. Marina recalls hiring a cherry picker to photograph the Gloucestershire festival survivors from a great height, but the youth arrived a day early and, confronted with an empty field at daybreak, returned home. The girls remained unflustered. A photographer climbed to the top of one of the fairground rides, risking his life to get the shot of the night. ‘It was very dewy, slippery and dangerous, but we got a fantastic photo.’
With such high expectations, do their friends panic about hosting them? ‘We always go into a party with a certain critical eye,’ admits Marina. ‘But we’re not demanding,’ adds Vanessa. ‘We’re just so happy to be at a party and not have to think about everything that is going on behind the scenes.’
When the party’s over, what do the party-loving, wild-child Kasimira girls do to unwind?
‘Take the dogs for a long walk with my husband,’ says Marina. ‘And have a good sleep.’
Middle: Marina Fogle. Bottom: Vanessa Story.