'I'm so sad for her… everyone has been so mean and stupid': Pippa's Vicomte on THAT Paris weekend and how they met at party with naked English guests
10:22 GMT, 24 June 2012
Vicomte Arthur de Soultrait is not the sort of man to allow a mere hangover to interfere with his customary joie de vivre and bonhomie.
Charismatic and larger than life, he revels in attention and positively twinkles when two giggling blondes walk past and call out: ‘Arthur!’
The previous evening he had been partying at the Pitti men’s fashion week in Florence, hence the hangover when we meet at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park where he has sponsored a match.
Vicomte Arthur De Soultrait is joined by 'Her Royal Hotness' Pippa Middleton and other guests at his 30th birthday party in April which slightly tarnished Miss Middleton's otherwise spotless reputation
The Parisian socialite appears to have recovered his good humour since his decadent 30th birthday party hit the headlines in April – somewhat tarnishing the reputation of guest Pippa Middleton in the process.
Prince William’s sister-in-law was pictured drinking champagne and dancing with dwarves, while corseted burlesque artists cavorted with guests.
Arthur wore a dog collar and a female guest chose a metal chastity belt.
One can only imagine what our Queen must have thought when she saw the pictures.
But there was more. The following
morning, Arthur and his brother Marcy were sitting in the back seat of a
car taking Pippa to the Gare du Nord train station, when the driver,
barrister Roman Rabillard, brandished a gun at a chasing paparazzo,
resulting in more unfortunate headlines.
Pippa Middleton hides behind her hair as she enters the Vicomte's birthday bash in April this year
Arthur, however, heaves a huge Gallic shrug.
‘It wasn’t very nice for her [Pippa] – she wasn’t involved at all,’ he says. ‘I’m sad for her because everyone has been extremely mean.
'It’s sad and stupid. It was just a very fun party for my 30th, it wasn’t crazy at all. It was just very good fun.’
How the pictures got out to the wider world, he cannot say. ‘Because we took many pictures for our Facebook,’ he offers innocently.
Arthur’s annual party is a fixture on the Parisian social scene. Last year the theme was Eyes Wide Shut, the Stanley Kubrick movie starring Nicole Kidman and her former husband Tom Cruise. This year it was Versailles.
He usually throws it in his beautiful Louis XV office on the Rue Royale (‘Very important for us to have this French history because when we receive foreigners it gives us credibility’) but this year it was held in a Paris nightclub because he needed a bigger venue.
‘I have many friends,’ he explains.
‘We love to have fun. We party. We really love to party!’
All his English friends attended. ‘All my family have a very big English culture.’
Arthur’s grandfather was a horse-obsessed military attach in London who, on returning to the family chateau in Burgundy, created what became known as the ‘French Badminton’, inspired by the Gloucestershire horse trials.
Arthur and his French set are to this
day very country at heart. ‘I love being in Burgundy with my dog,
shooting,’ he says. ‘It’s very simple.’
origins of his family, however, are anything but simple. How long have
they lived there for ‘Always.’ Five hundred years perhaps Arthur
shrugs. ‘Something like this.’
fact, their family history reads like a Dumas novel. They’ve been
knocking around France since 1349 and were papal regents of Avignon for
eight generations. (They’ve had the family seat, the Chateau de Toury,
since a good marriage in 1724.)
Arthur De Soultrait, second left, and his brother Marcy fourth left, pictured with writer Richard Dennen, left, at Guards Polo Club, Windsor with two female friends
One ancestor, Jean-Charles de Soultrait, was a Musketeer who was killed – along with his brother – by a cannon ball at his seventh battle for the king. He was posthumously decorated with the Order of St Louis by Louis XV.
Some 100 years later, Gaspard de Soultrait, a 20-year-old lieutenant, was decorated with the Lgion d’honneur by Napoleon after the Battle of Leipzig.
His heir made another good match when he married the niece of the first Queen of Sweden. There’s really no stopping those de Soultraits.
Today, the family breeds horses and when Arthur was growing up, ‘les weekends’ were spent on the racecourse.
‘I always liked the clothes of the jockeys and I found fashion interesting,’ he says. ‘But not very colourful.’
He first met Pippa four years ago, at the wedding of their mutual friend, Countess Marie-Sophie von Montgelas, a minor Bavarian toff, to Ari Tatos at her family schloss. (It was at their child’s christening last summer that Pippa became a godparent alongside Prince Lukas von Auersperg.)
Arthur laughs at the camera sitting next to his brother Marcy with Pippa in the front passenger seat when the driver Roman Rabillard, jokingly pulls a gun on a photographer chasing them on their way to Gare Du Nord
‘I was worried that it was going to be boring but then the English started jumping into a fountain with no clothes on,’ he laughs.
Marie-Sophie had indeed bussed in a load of smart English guests, one of whom was thrown into the castle fountain in his tails.
He then jumped back in naked, leading a stampede of young men. The Germans and French had never seen anything like it.
The next day, after the English had headed to the pub in a local town, Traunstein, the birthplace of the Pope and the most religious town in Germany, one of their number awoke on the ground outside a church attached to a heart monitor and surrounded by nuns.
Arthur does not reveal whether Pippa enjoyed a refreshing dip but we are to hear a lot more of Arthur and clothes.
His fashion label, ‘Vicomte A’ – all preppy polo shirts, bow ties and boating jackets, is set to make him France’s answer to Ralph Lauren.
Apart from Pippa, he reveals that his fans already include French prime minister Francois Fillon, Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, and Prince Albert of Monaco.
He founded the label eight years ago during an internship in Charlotte, North Carolina, when he was at business school.
‘The company went bankrupt so they couldn’t pay me,’ he says.
‘I was there on my own so I started selling some ties to make some money.
I went door-to-door with my little suitcase selling the ties. I was very successful and sold many, many ties.’
His American friends persuaded him to set up his own logo-branded label and to use his initial and title. Originally he refused.
‘Because in France you cannot think about using your title,’ he explains.
‘It’s a part of you but you don’t think about it, it’s embarrassing. But then it is the perfect marketing tool in the US because nobody can buy that.’
After ties came belts and brightly coloured polo shirts made from the best Peruvian and Egyptian cotton. (Fuchsia is a favourite colour of his and used throughout.)
Now he has 28 stores worldwide and in a couple of months his range will include sunglasses and then, in time for Christmas, watches.
Now he has a whole phalanx of young French working for him on the Rue Royale.
Although he is 30, most of the designers are 25.
At his infamous party was everyone he knew: ‘The people who I live and work with. It’s a big mix between my professional life and my friends and that sums up the band. I have good friends at the office.’
The court of De Soultrait is like one big family.
In a couple of weeks he is taking everyone down to St Tropez for another work party.
‘We’re going to create the new Winter ’13 collection in a villa. Just to get out of Paris.
'To think. But it’s always good fun!’ he says.
‘Our parents never gave us any money when we were young so we always had to work.
‘The idea was to be financially independent. So that’s why I started selling ties.’
He recently set up shop in Luxembourg and Kuwait and, a month ago, quietly opened an outlet on London’s Kings Road – ‘next to Les Raffles’ – after a two-year search for a suitable site.
The low-key launch was deliberate and designed to avoid accusations that he is capitalising on the notoriety arising from Pippa’s naughty Paris weekend.
As we talk, an announcement is made. ‘Her Majesty the Queen comes forward now from the Royal Box.’ Arthur, followed by Marcy, hurries off to take photos of the Monarch awarding the trophy.
Afterwards, wandering back to the clubhouse, he asks me: ‘You know, I found a very beautiful English girl in my house in Paris on Sunday night. Do you know this girl Caroline Ah, the perfect night.’
The Vicomte is incorrigible – charming, but incorrigible.