I was intrigued to meet him as you would be when you see a photo of a 71-year-old man looking a good couple of decades younger. He had the luxurious hair of a Bee Gee (but it was definitely his - he grabbed a fistful to prove it after revealing he'd been asked in a hotel "who does your wigs?") and the tinted glasses to match, the svelte stature of Prince, some fine tailoring and one ring on each hand that contained enough bling to make a Big Fat Gypsy happy. He also had the wit and acid tongue of Joan Rivers and an accent that was truly transatlantic. He sounded English then American, then a little bit Irish, and had a great line in imitating excitable German aesthetic practitioners.
That's the look done with, and that's about as long as it lasted because as soon as he started talking I stopped wondering about how he achieved his 'twenty years younger' look and realised that there's one thing his photo doesn't tell you - it's that he has a life force to be reckoned with.
He spun stories that went from Beverly Hills women requiring special attention for their 'spaniel's ears', to eating random plants in Inner Mongolia, to the beauty hall at Fenwicks, to an invitation to the White House. Each point he had to make about skin health was illustrated by analogies that included (but were not limited to) breasts and bottoms, public-school boys and pints, the hypothalamus getting on the phone to the endocrine system and people "with more money than God" having to be told they can't buy their way out of ageing. He also talked about his commitment to the Milk Foundation although I initially mis-heard this so when I asked him to tell me more about this 'Melk' charity, he said "of course, have you heard of Harvey Milk? He was one of the world's first openly gay government officials. They made a film about his life starring Sean Penn. It was called 'Milk'" I went red, he probably silently prescribed me a treatment for my hot flush and wondered why I had impersonated his accent.
He was captivating and charming, a gifted story teller and for someone who ultimately would want us to part with our money somewhere down the line, didn't spend much time talking about his products or techniques. What he did deliver was something very motivational - there was lots of emphasis on doing things that made you happy - not because other people want you to, or expect it of you - he talked of starting over at fifty, of making mistakes and being ok with that, of being true to yourself and of being sincere. I'd gone in expecting to get a L'Oreal style lecture full of made up scientific words but instead it was like having a pep talk from a gossipy, glamourous friend.
I went up to him afterwards to say thank you and we shook hands. I gave him my card and he called me "darling". I may never meet him again but I certainly won't forget him; he made me think and cheered my spirit. I came away feeling just a little bit fabulous.
Soundtrack: Absolutely Fabulous - Pet Shop Boys