This past week, Bravo premiered a couple new shows including Ladies of London, basically a Real Housewives-type show with a cultural twist. The show takes place in London, England, of course, and revolves around a group of women who are hot in British society. This includes British socialites, near-royals and a group of Americans who may or may not belong there, depending on who you ask. The short version is this: British women don’t think they belong there. The American expats struggle to find their place in a world that holds pretty hard to tradition and lineage. Old money, royal relations and class are key.
If you’re like me and looking for some new shows to fill your summer slump (let’s face it, you’ve already finished Orange Is The New Black, right?) well, Ladies of London might be a good choice. I caught the premiere and I liked it a lot. It’s a nice balance of loud and proud Americans, snobby Brits, wannabe social climbers and, of course, tea. Let’s meet the ladies:
Caroline Stanbury was “born into English high society,” meaning she didn’t have to buy her way in as one of the most prominent British socialites. It should be noted, though, that if she did need to buy her way into any place, she easily could. Her family is old money and they’re worth billions. Married to a financier, she has a daughter and twin boys. She lives on the same estate as Brad and Angelina, if you need to place her wealth into American terms. Caroline is a self-described pitbull and seems like kind of a b*tch, but the kind of b*tch you really, really want to be friends with. She’s got more class and sophistication than LuAnn De Lesseps, but she’d never be tacky enough to write a book about it. She runs a luxury gift service, which caters to the enormously wealthy.
If Caroline is a b*tch, then London model and socialite Annabelle Neilson is a super, mega-b*tch. Born into an aristocratic family, Annabelle grew up as part of the poshest of the posh, though she describes herself as more “rock and roll.” She seems like the kind of woman who will point out that she never gets manicures, but her shampoo probably costs like £300 per bottle. No one is buying your grunge girl act, Annabelle. She’s on the cutting edge of fashion and was actually muse and best friend to designer Alexander McQueen for 20 years before his suicide in 2010. Annabelle is still greatly affected by McQueen’s death and seems to be having trouble returning to the party/social scene. Of course, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t still own the town. I’d be kind of afraid to cross her, if I were the other women.
Noelle Reno was born in Seattle, Washington, but she has lived in London for about 10 years. Noelle is known as a successful model, businesswoman, media personality and fashion entrepreneur, but that basically means bollocks to the real society women in London. Noelle’s latest claim to fame is much more scandalous – her boyfriend Scot Young was recently imprisoned for withholding financial records in his divorce proceedings. The divorce from his wife, which is ongoing, is not only preventing Noelle from marrying her boyfriend, but it’s also a huge piece of tabloid fodder. The short version: Young claims he’s broke; his wife claims that he’s actually worth billions and he’s hiding his money in offshore accounts and other shady dealings. Noelle is stuck in the middle – and as bad as scandal can be in the United States, it’s ten times worse in England. The tabloids there are notorious for being brutal and uh, so are the people who read them. It doesn’t seem like Noelle will be fast friends with the likes of Caroline or Annabelle, especially if she keeps wearing hats to polo matches – the horror!
Caprice is so cool, she only has one name, like Madonna or Cher. Caprice, if you’re around my age, will be a familiar face because she was on just about every magazine cover in the late 1990s and early 2000s. According to her bio, it’s about 300 magazine covers, if you want to get technical. Caprice moved from California to London in her early 20s to pursue her dream of becoming a world famous model and it worked. As she started inching toward 40 (400 in model years) she decided to branch out and founded By Caprice, a lingerie line. She’s the only American on the show – and maybe one of the more notable American women, period – who’s truly made her place in British society. Caprice seems pretty nice, as supermodels go, and interested in helping to guide the younger, more naive American implants find their way.
You know who hasn’t really made her way yet? Marissa Hermer. Born in Newport Beach, California, Marissa is married to London nightclub owner Matt Hermer. Matt owns Boujis, which is apparently one of the most exclusive clubs in the city. To get into Boujis, you have to be a member, a royal, an Oscar winner or a Grammy winner. What, no love for the BAFTAs? Sheesh. Boujis has a secret entrance just for members of the royal family. Well then. Marissa moved to London to be with Matt in 2008 and they have two children together. According to Caroline, Marissa’s made her way into the social scene on Matt’s name alone – if she wasn’t Mrs. Boujis, she’d be nobody. Marissa seems to be smart and she has her own successes as well, but once she’s around Caroline, it’s just desperate and sad. At a polo match, she’s stuck to Caroline like American glue, showing way too much excitement at being around her. It’s very, “Ohmigod, you ordered a water. I love water! We’re like sisters!!” Yikes.
Juliet Angus is about as American as you can get. She’s so American that I get kind of embarrassed watching her. Juliet was a party girl in Los Angeles and New York, rubbing elbows with celebrity friends like Lindsay Lohan. Is that still something to brag about? Um, I’m not sure, but Juliet says it like we should be impressed. After making it in the U.S. in the television and fashion industries, Juliet moved across the pond in 2010 with her husband. She’s a mother of two and a little less of a party girl than she used to be – but that doesn’t mean she’s not loud. Oh, Juliet is loud. She commits the big British faux pas of showing enthusiasm at a polo match – how tacky! Juliet thinks Brits are stuffy and boring. They think she’s uncultured American swine. Good times!
This season of Ladies of London promises a lot of cat fights, though I wouldn’t expect the kind of screaming we’re accustomed to on the Real Housewives. These ladies are more prone to “posh put-downs” that sound like compliments, but are really digs. I think this show will be fun and a nice change from the same old – plus, they filmed in London during the royal baby birth, so if you’re looking to relive that, here’s your chance.
Did you watch the Ladies of London premiere? What did you think?