Having previously experienced their Autumn/Winter ’19 and Dior Couture Prêt-à-Portea collections over the last couple of years, both of which were exquisitely executed and memorable indeed, I had the pleasure of returning to The Berkeley post-lockdown to try their much-anticipated Spring/Summer ’21 collection. A firm favourite for fashionistas with a sweet tooth, this season’s Prêt-à-Portea collection showcases seven bold seasonal creations, of which three of the designers graced the catwalk for the first time this season.
Served in the Collins Room, one of the most beautiful and elegant spaces that I have dined in, we were once again seated at my favourite corner table in the extended glass pavilion. The weather was pretty grim when I left home that morning, and after a stressful scurry across the city in the rain, it seemed that the weather had had a change of heart, and blessed us with moments of sunshine which flooded in through the glass ceiling and windows. A magnum of Laurent-Perrier champagne was swiftly brought to the table to fill up our glasses as we settled in and browsed through their extensive selection of loose-leaf teas. I went for the Sri Lankan Vanilla Black, a smooth black tea scented with vanilla essence that gave it a sweet and fragrant aroma. I do love a rich, black tea, whilst my dining companion went for a milder Oolong tea, the floral and refreshing Taiwanese Ali Shan tea.
As always, our tea began with elegant canapés, starting with an appetizing smoked duck profiterole, topped with pickled girolles, orange, capers & chives. The selection of sandwiches looked as tempting as always which included the following:
Cucumber, brown butter boursin cream, pickled carrots, wild rocket on white bread
Roast corn fed chicken, French sorrel, gem lettuce, crispy shallots on onion bread
Poached Scottish salmon, tarragon emulsion, marinated shallots on rye sour dough bread
Duck egg mayonnaise & watercress on brioche pain de mie
Peppered Pastrami, beef tomatoes, basil, creamy cheese on granary bread
Amongst them, I was particularly fond of the roast corn fed chicken and the poached Scottish salmon. There was also a refreshing canapé of marinated cherry tomatoes & melon, yuzu jelly, currants, basil & elderflower jus, which served as an ideal palate cleanser before the main event.
Plates and cutlery refreshed, our table was cleared for the arrival of the eye-catching collection of cakes and fancies inspired by the Spring/Summer catwalk. To accompany these sweet delights, I was recommended a lighter tea, the White Peony from Fujian, China, a pale green infusion of sweet notes with a refreshing cucumber and melon finish.
This season’s collection debuted with Donatella Versace’s ocean-themed cocktail dress, reimagined as a coconut darquoise and mango confit, encased with exotic fruit mousse and topped with a sugar starfish for a final flourish. Combining tailoring, sporty accents and oversized proportions to create a modern idea of uncontrived comfort, Tod’s new collection features a distinctive shape shopper tote, recreated as a miniature edible version made from citrus Victoria sponge with florescent green Valrhona chocolate Ivoire and acid-lime icing. An intricately iced vanilla biscuit, complete with signature sunglasses and bob, pays homage to the Anna Wintour puppet that graced the ‘frow’ for Moschino, in a standout show titled “No Strings Attached” created by Jeremy Scott.
Valentino’s vivid printed gown with floral patterns was depicted as a pistachio bavarois with Amerena cherry, set on a pistachio croquant and finished with a sugar lily. At the height of the pandemic, French designer Isabel Marant lifted spirits with a disco-inspired show reminiscent of a club night. Inspired by the purple chapter, Isabel Marant’s amethyst high-shine ensemble was an almond sponge with a beriolette jelly centre, glazed in glittering purple and topped with a chocolate bow. As it was my first time hearing of New York City-based lifestyle brand, LoveShackFancy, I had a little scroll through on Instagram for a bit of self-education. Based on their SS21 collection ‘One Fine Day’, a celebration of love, optimism and hope, its playful strawberry and heart-covered striped two-piece was envisaged as a Joconde sponge in a trio of colours, topped with a high-shine strawberry made with strawberry and rhubarb cheesecake. And it certainly tasted as delicious as it looked.
Saving the best for last, the season’s centrepiece is based on Halpern’s feather gown. This showstopper has been crafted in a made-to-share financier cake with raspberry compote, Amatika chocolate dome with praline crunch, and topped with grue de cacao. A pair of black wafer legs added a cheeky finishing touch. Yet another exceptional Prêt-à-Portea collection that has got me excited to see what more intriguing creations are to follow in the coming seasons.
The Prêt-à-Portea is served daily from 1:00pm – 5:30pm, priced at £60.00 per person, with further options available as follows:
Champagne Prêt-à-Portea, with a glass of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée Brut NV, £70.00 per person
Signature Mocktail Prêt-à-Portea, with a Solstice mocktail, £70.00 per person
Couture Champagne Prêt-à-Portea, with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé or Laurent-Perrier Blanc de Blanc, £76.00 per person
Haute Couture Champagne Prêt-à-Portea, with a glass of Dom Pérignon 2008, £110.00 per person
Further information on bookings can be found on their website.
- My Prêt-à-Portea experience at The Berkeley was complimentary – views and photos are my own.