Over 400 bottles of champagne, 800 gourmet burgers, and a room full of Hollywood stars: Welcome to the Vanity Fair Oscars party
They waft in, one by one – heady and drunk on their Oscar success.
These are no mere mortals. They are the bona fide A list crowd, plucked and preened, tucked and taut (and those are just the men) ready for action at the most exclusive party of the year.
To catch a glimpse of them up close is like being on safari and similarly, one is advised to follow the laws of the savanna: ‘stay calm, don’t make any sudden movements – and whatever you do, don’t upset the animals’.
This is the Vanity Fair annual Oscars bash – and while I don’t have binoculars, camouflage gear and a dart gun upon me, I may as well be on expedition.
Stepping inside, I do my best impression of Jean Dujardin from The Artist and remain silent for a few minutes, as – well, it’s actually the Gallic wonder himself – brushes past me.
The Artist: Actor Jean Dujardin, right, and wife Alexandra Lamy arrive at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Clutching his Oscar, Mr Dujardin leans on me and droops his eyelids as he drawls ‘I am zooo tir-red.’
His wife, rangy blonde French actress Alexandra Lamy, who was last seen dabbing her eyes as her husband picked up his Best Actor award, smiles on as a storm of blackberries, cameras, iphones and other assorted equipment come flying at the star – and he poses for pictures with what seem to be the entire room.
Meanwhile, in another corner, Jane Fonda, looking spry, daintily eats a burger from fast food outlet In-And-Out. An incongruous sight, indeed, as she is wearing a sleek white gown and looks immaculate, belying her 74 years.
And actress Octavia Spencer, still stunned from her win for Best Supporting Actress for The Help, giggles with friends as she passes her little gold man about.
Golden girl: Veteran actor Jane Fonda and her husband Richard Perry arrive to join the A-list party
After recently admitting that she resorted to wearing not one but THREE pairs of Spanx knickers under her red carpet gowns, the star laughs: ‘There will be no more Spanx, not for me – never again!’
As she fondly caresses her Oscar, and still wearing the silver dress she collected her award in, she adds: ‘It’s still sinking in, I can’t believe it.’
Then there are the Beckhams, a firm fixture now in Hollywood, who make their arrival after Victoria posts of a picture of herself getting ready for the high-profile event. Possibly, one of the only times in recent memory that she has seemed actively excited.
It is all as far removed from my couch in London as you could possibly get. And that is where I would normally be found, 5,000 miles away, watching the Oscars on TV in the dead of night, using only sheer will to stay awake and a pair of match sticks to prop my eyes open.
Power couple: David Beckham and Tom Cruise are just two of the superstar names that mingled at the party
However, this year, amid a fleet of limos and chaos, I am at the Sunset Tower hotel in West Hollywood after being invited to the hottest ticket in town.
As the glare of an old-fashioned spotlight darts its way into the night sky, the winners and Hollywood’s hottest stars wade their way down the red carpet and sashay, shimmy and pose in front of an army of photographers whose mass excitement threatens to lead to a mass coronary almost at any minute.
And then I am ushered inside, past airport-style security, naturally.
The walnut-panelled walls of this art-deco retreat have paid witness to clandestine Hollywood affairs and hold a myriad of secrets.
Half-expecting to see dog treats for Uggie, who I’m sure by now is tucked up in his basket, the guests are instead treated to hamburgers (800 to be exact), and red velvet cupcakes.
There is serious high level networking going on in here, this, my friends, is one super-duper schmooze cruise.
Kenneth Branagh chats to Oscar nominee Glen Close, who then catches up with her former Fatal Attraction Michael Douglas – minus any bunnies, of course.
Star quality: Actress Zoe Saldana arrived at the party alone
Flame-haired Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain, stunning in her Alexander McQueen black and gold gown, talks to Gerard Butler, fresh from rehab who in turn, seems to have his eye on supermodel Bar Rafaeli.
And at least one very new high-profile couple decide to make their public debut at the Vanity Fair party.
Hollywood heartthrob Bradley Cooper and Avatar actress Zoe Saldana look relaxed and tactile as they held hands while strolling around the room, chatting to other new hot couple Olivia Wilde and Saturday Night Live star Jason Sudeikis.
As it is a small and intimate affair, this means that at every twist and turn, there will be a star. On the balcony outside, Oscar nominee Michelle Williams talks to friends, while Rooney Mara looks elfin and porcelaine with a slash of red stick and jet black fringe.
She looks a far cry from her alter-ego of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, as she stands with her boyfriend Charlie McDowell, who himself comes from Hollywood royalty, as he is the son of Malcom McDowell and actress Mary Steenburgen.
There are 420 bottles of Moet champagne ready to be popped. High-profile attendees have been sent a personalised email invite by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter (he of the luxuriant leonine hair).
However, if you have won, but don’t have an invitation – just turn up with your Oscar in your sticky paws, and, by all means, feel free to come in.
So keen to win a golden ticket, just hours beforehand last night’s party, a guest at Sir Elton John’s viewing party bid 230,000 for a pair of tickets.
Among the touches of luxury are Vanity Fair-embossed Zippo lighters handed out as gifts. While cigarette girls, dressed in outfits by L’Wren Scott – stroll around looking like they’re visiting from 1930s New York.
Sprawling arrangements of pastel roses adorn the room and even the small, dim lamps have pictures of stars embossed on them.
For some Oscar winners, the winners who do not come from the A list, the party is a dream-like evening.
Ben Grossman, who proffers his Oscar to me to hold – and only narrowly manages to win it back – is still on cloud nine after winning the award for Visual Effects for Hugo.
‘I don’t remember anything about going up on stage, or what I said, it is all like a dream and it passes by so fast. I just hope I didn’t embarrass myself.’
And as the party winds down, the last burger is munched, the last glass of champagne is swilled, pop princess Miley Cyrus jumps down from the counter where she is perched and Mad Men star Jon Hamm exits, all that is left is to reminisce on is whether it was real – or merely another one of Hollywood’s carefully constructed fantasies…
VIDEO: Some of the hottest stars of the Oscars attend the Vanity Fair after-party