Christopher Mills is a celebrity event stylist who has been planning experiences and parties for over 20 years, he has produced events in every formation and for the most extraordinary people. Here he tells House of Coco Magazine a bit more about the exciting and often secret world of a celebrity party planner!
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a dreamer, wholeheartedly, but at the same time I’ve always struggled to accurately describe myself and what I do because I am absolutely (and proudly) a Jack n Jill of all trades and master of none, an enigma and well-rounded creator, part Willy Wonka, Walt Disney and Oscar Wilde rolled into one.
With my creative agency The Events Mill and the immersive events we design I am an architect of peoples’ dreams in that I get to create experiences for people in ways that others wouldn’t even conceive as possible. Stepping into my brain would probably look like Dorothy’s first glance into Oz. It’s this that I’ve packaged up and offer my clients, events that push the boundaries of imagination.
What does a typical day look like for you?
No two days are the same which makes for an exciting yo-yo lifestyle. I get to visit the most extraordinary places in the world and to work in inaccessible venues, palaces, private homes and off-the-beaten track locations. These kinds of places the general public rarely get access to, which I never take for granted; I guess I live a privileged life in that sense. A lot of my days are spent on site visits, client meetings and the “fun stuff” but of course I have my admin days too!
I love to surround myself with an abundance of creativity, objects and antiques, multi-sensory cacophony, food, fashion, literature, people. Anything beautiful I fill my days with.
I have my downtime too. I love to read, Shantaram is my favourite book, and I paint a lot. You can likely find wondering a gallery, having afternoon tea in one of my favourite hotels or sipping cocktails (all for educational purposes, of course!).
As an event stylist to the stars what is the most extravagant event you have designed? And what was the budget?
I hired Lake Bled in Slovenia for a client who was obsessed with Disney’s Frozen (she was in good company with me). For her 30th birthday, I reproduced a version of Frozen the Musical to serenade her and her guests, complete with giant ice sculptures and a banquette dinner and dance which took place on the ice. All of this on the frozen surface of Lake Bled itself with its stunning castle, Blejski Grad, as a backdrop. We recreated the Northern Lights using advanced projection technology and laser in the sky, with supporting drone art and mapping to bring to life the magic of Elsa’s powers. It was an enchanting, authentic step into the world of Frozen. And let’s just say that money was no issue.
I bet you have had a few strange requests in the past especially when it comes to celebrities what has been your weirdest one?
Privacy is the new form of luxury and I never kiss and tell, but I did once produce an after party in Cannes and things got a little raunchy at a champagne brand’s party. Nikki Beach is famous for its white parties and champagne showers and at this particular event a little too much champagne was showered, and everyone decided to get naked and … well … you can guess the rest.
What are you top five tips for creating a fun, boujie and extravagant event?
I get asked this A LOT. My answer is always the same – it totally depends on what kind of event you’re trying to create. I often don’t answer this question because its proscriptive and parties ought not be formulaic in my opinion.
If I had to generalise though, as an immersive events designer it’s about the senses for me, of which there are five, that’s the hint.
Invest in good candles! – good lighting creates confidence and beauty in all people and allows people to sink into the mood of the event.
Follow your nose – we all love the smell of delicious food and heady candles that allow us to relax and forget the outside world. So why is it so common to be harshly wrenched back into that world on use of the facilities. Some of the most extravagant venues have the foulest bathrooms and it has never made sense to me!
Pack a punch and a crunch – this is two in one. If you’re serving up culinary delights, they need to make their mark; experiment with different flavours and try something completely different. Risk taking is key! Simple garnishes on dishes add texture and delight people – keep it simple with croutons or go wild but don’t distract from the dish as whole.
Something to shout about – the goldilocks rule. It can’t be too loud and it can’t be too quiet; remember people come to parties to converse and meet people. The volume must match the space. For intimate soirees I find the laughter of friends, tinkle of glasses and general chatter is music enough.
If you could create an event for any celebrity in the world who would it be and what would be the theme?
I’ve been fortunate to work with many celebrities in my time and continue to push the envelope with my specialism in the immersive world of design. But there is one person who I would have loved to plan a party for and that is Oscar Wilde. To me he is the epitome of class and sophistication and someone who represented society of his time in a unique way. I imagine he was the most extraordinary person to speak to and his stories are magnificent, so I would absolutely draw out his imagination and bring to life the power of his literary world, poetry and musings. I would also celebrate him as a Queer figure and as one of my heroes.
I’ve heard you have also been involved in designing some royal parties? Can you tell us a bit more of us it all top secret?
There are some experiences throughout my time that stick out for all the right reasons, whether creatively or due to logistical challenges, or just because of them being of incredibly high profile or because they pull on your heartstrings, like the philanthropic work I do. Throughout my tenure as a party planner I’ve worked with a number of royals both privately and philanthropically, at gala openings, hosting dinners, stewarding receptions and at appearances, all of which have been so exciting. But a promise is a promise and part of my job is to always deliver events with discretion at the very heart.
With the kings coronation coming up have you got any events planned?
Yes, absolutely. We have lots of social events planned and there is a fantastic camaraderie in the air which is so wonderful to feel amongst clients. Many of the brands we work with are sharing in this spirit, too, revealing Coronation collections and hosting receptions and dinners in honour of Their Majesty’s. I also think many clients are looking forward to celebrating at home with loved ones and entertaining over dinner parties will always be a popular choice.
If people are having a party at home to celebrate the coronation, how can they create a super stylish tablescape?
Coronation is all about the coming together and everybody doing their part, so a celebration of “home” and “garden” is beautiful. A super stylish way of achieving a unique tablescape for your Coronation party is to use a mixture of objects and flora, a plethora of china and textures. For example, bring a little of the street party into your tablescape by mixing different styles together and use antiques and objects to tell a story and beautiful colour pops in vases, with beautiful cut flowers from the garden. Classic and vintage cutlery, different coloured wine glasses and don’t worry about being bold in your choice of colours for linen and napkins.
Everything from teapots, saucers, candlesticks, marbles, jugs, vintage bowls, brass, books and ornaments could help create a homely feel to give a sense of a community coming together to celebrate the Coronation.
Where are the best places to shop for cool event props and styling?
I always visit charity shops and local markets for unusual objects as well as antique shops. I also love browsing eBay and Facebook Market Place is a great place to pick up pre-loved pieces. If you’re feeling crafty then Hobbycraft has a great selection. Also, if you’re heading to the seaside there are always great trinket places to peruse. And of course, should you want bigger hire places then there are so many amazing hire stores.
We also have a huge collection of props, hire and the most amazing collection of antiques so do get in touch - everything from gold objects to vintage Disney prints.
If someone wants to book you to create their dream event how do they contact you?
Either via our website www.theeventsmill.com or socials Instagram @thechristophermills Twitter @theeventsmill
And finally what has been the most favourite event you have designed and why?
Wow, this is a difficult one as there are so many. But, I have to say that the philanthropic work I do with our charity partners is the most rewarding. I produce an event with War Child, for example, and having a role to play in that event where our contribution goes to helping children in conflict zones have a better quality of life is amazing. There is no better feeling. You can see more of our work here: https://theeventsmill.com/case-studies/
Photography by Luke Dillon and Rio Blake