Tuesday, June 1, 2010

2500 Years of Savoir Faire

Well, due to popular consensus it seems that the party of the century rates another entry on Savoir Faire! This was so over the top that as I said in my previous post it almost fell into the realm of being just down right tacky. Arguably it was the most notable event of the century involving royalty and heads of state. The original plan was for a grand party with around 30 heads of state, when the news of the organization of the event spread, dozens of embassies clamoured for invitations for their countries, enlarging the number of guests in a dramatic way.

The party was to celebrate the 2500 years of the Iranian Monarchy by Cyrus the Great in Persepolis Iran. It was an elaborate set of festivities that would showcase Iran’s long history and to showcase its contemporary advancements under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the former Shah of Iran. Backlash from the celebration would eventually lead to the overthrow of the monarchy in 1977. Even though celebrating Iran and its history nearly everything from food, wine, gardens and tents were provided by France.

The planning for the event took more than a decade with an elaborate tent city being erected next to the archeological site of Persepolis, with the area being cleared of snakes and other vermin. The French interior design firm of Jansen was charged with the creation of a tent city modeled on that of King François I’s sumptuous camp erected in the west coast of France in 1520 to entertain Henry VIII of England. 50 air conditioned tents were built, surrounded by lavish gardens full of trees and plants imported from France.

Chandeliers of Bohemian crystal woven with plants hung in the official tents and vied for attention with the Italian drapery and curtains. Limoges and baccarat created countless items of china and glassware for the occasion. Hairdressers and beauticians were provided by Alexandre of Paris , to attend to female guests and Elizabeth Arden created a makeup range called “Farah” (In honour of the Empress) to be given for female guests. To cater for arriving guests 250 red Mercedes Benzs were ordered to ferry guests to and from airports and the celebrations.

Royal guests included Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (whose pet dog had a diamond lead), King Frederick IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark, King Baudouin I and Queen Fabiola of Belgium, King Hussein and Princess Muna of Jordan, King Olav V of Norway, King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Prince Abdul Wali Khanand Princess Bilqis Begum of Afghanistan, Prince Franz Josef II and Princess Georgina of Liechtenstein, Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco, Prince Juan Carlos and Princess Sofia of Spain, Princess Mikasa and Princess Yuriko of Japan, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne of the United Kingdom along with countless others. In addition Viceroys, Presidents and Prime Ministers added to the guest list.

One of the highlights of the celebrations was the banquet held in the main tent, catered for by Maxims. Six hundred guests dined over five and a half hours thus making for the longest and most lavish official banquet in modern history. The menu includes such things as quail eggs stuffed with caviar, mousse of crayfish tails with nantuna sauce, roast saddle of lamb with truffles, and countless sorbets etc, washed down with the finest of French wines, champagnes and spirits.

A son et lumiere show and fireworks, accompanied by a specially-commissioned electronic music piece Persepolis concluded the evening. The next day saw a parade of armies of different Iranian empires covering two and half millennia by 1,724 men of the Iranian armed forces, all in period costume. In the evening a less formal "traditional Persian party" was held in the Banqueting Hall as the concluding event at Persepolis.

It is a very fine line between over the top excess and savoir faire, however I will let you be the judge however I am sure many were saying “What a swell party it was”


  1. Remarkable post about a remarkable event.

    So many egos . . .
    it must have been a protocol nightmare !


  2. good heavens! This is giving my ideas for my birthday. Hopefully, I won't be deposed afterward, however.

  3. Jason, be careful, it also happend to the Romanovs after they celebrated 300 years of Romanov rule in Russia! Don't continue the trend!

    Judith, apparently protocol was taken into account with the long serpentine shaped head table at the banquet.

  4. Amazing...what eye for detail...even the umbrellas in the last photo were spicy shades.

  5. All this would have caused unimaginable resentment for everyone not aligned with the imperial world.


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