"You’re turning 40," they said. "It’s an important milestone," they said. "You NEED to celebrate!" But after months of socializing with only the immediate members of my family, the prospect of a massive party was downright overwhelming. Not to mention the tenuous situation with events, so I planned a series of smaller events instead. And so began the Festival of Forty!

I had a gorgeous dinner at Pasadena, several smaller get-togethers and set about planning a long lunch in Byron for 20 of my oldest friends. When my girlfriend Emma offered to host it at her incredible house in Mullumbimby where they had recently installed a grand resort-style pool, everything fell into place. Emma and her hubby Matt run Barre Body (pilates, barre and dance studios and training), and they recently bought the house next door for Emma to run Business Coaching Retreats (as you do). So we were also able to stay there, which was a dream.

Various themes were thrown around, but with that epic pool, one of my favourite photographers sprung to mind. Slim Aarons whose iconic images of the jetset in glamorous waterside locales are a poignant reminder of simpler times.

A sense of lazy hedonism pervades these milieus and I loved the idea of some of my favourite people converging to focus on nothing but eating, drinking and having fun (we decided to go sans children, such a rarity!). The late sixties/early seventies also happens to be my favourite era of fashion so I was eager to see what my friends would come up with. (I wasn’t disappointed!)

Catering was the first piece of the puzzle and a Google search turned up Gathar: a booking and concierge service for hiring amazing local private chefs + caterers. They do it all: from date nights to dinner parties, fancy canapes or grazing tables for corporate events, and even bespoke meals served by a chef at your Airbnb if you’re away from home. You can choose from various drop downs to curate your perfect event (we went for The Grande Italian Fiesta), or your Gathar concierge can design a custom menu for you. They even gave me this link for you guys to get $25 off your first “gatharing” by using the code ‘BEAUTICATE25‘ (remember to keep this code handy when your Gathar booking is locked in and you’re ready to pay).

I really wanted to make the tables look special and on theme so turned to stylist and events extraordinaire Maria Birch from Frank & Joy. I sent her through a few photos of Emma’s backyard and a description of what I wanted to create. She put a mood board together featuring the cutlery, chairs, glassware we could hire from her. I sourced the linens from Cultiver and very cool yellow plates from In The Roundhouse. Haven Botanical florist in Mullumbimby confirmed they could create arrangements that would match the moodboard Maria had made and we were in business.

Chatting to my friends Jayde and Hayley from Luv Lou sunglasses and they suggested a Villa 26 pool float to complete the seventies vibe – and kindly offered to lend me theirs. It was perfect. Damo called Mullumbimby Hire and booked in the festoon lights to pick up the day before and I booked in local photographer Jasmin Sleeman who I’d found on Instagram. I loved her event and portrait photography and had a feeling she’d nail the brief.

Finally – the outfit and beauty! I remembered the Zimmermann Zippy Billow Dress that Elle Macpherson had worn on a visit to Sydney a few years ago –and found it on hire at Ekoluv in Paddington. This second hand boutique and event hire is such a great sustainable option for events – so you don’t end up buying something that you only wear a couple of times. They have an incredible range of designer pieces including some beautiful archival Zimmermann like this dress. I ended up wearing an outfit from Ekoluv to my Pasadena birthday, too. It’s a good system – you book it out online, they can send it anywhere in the world, and the hire fee includes dry cleaning.

For Damo, we went vintage shopping in Newtown to find the super short shorts and he actually had the seventies striped Gucci t-shirt in his wardrobe from an outlet purchase years ago. He grew a moustache and was good to party. God boys have it easy! On the other hand, I had a fairly rigorous beauty schedule! Body wise I was doing my #fitbyforty regime which included Hypervibe vibration training, Emsculpt, Pilates and lymphatic massages at Atma Wellbeing (I’ll do a separate story on that – I made some interesting discoveries!).

Finally, I had a cut, colour, mani and pedi at Bare Beauty House in Manly. I love it there as the products are all sustainable and as natural as possible. Also love that I can do nails and hair together. They use my favourite polish – Dazzle Dry, which is dry in five minutes, lasts nearly as well as gel and leaves your nails in good condition. Then a few days out I headed to Beaches Lash Co for a brow tint, shape and lamination, spray tan and lash extensions. It was perfect that I only had to go to two places to tick off eight beauty appointments – it’s all about the one stop shop!

Scrubbed, buffed, plucked and bronzed (it was a lot like prepping for a wedding!) I boarded our flight to Byron, ready to party! Everything unfolded without a hitch and amazingly the weather held off. Our guests were dressed beautifully and totally took the theme on board. There was plenty of champagne consumed, and we’d even had a splash in the pool by the time the incredible Gathar Italian Spread came out: we dined on Fettucine amatriciana with chilli, cured pork and pecorino and Chicken Piccata with preserved lemon. The mains were shared with sides of Heirloom panzanella salad with white anchovy and Grilled zucchini topped with spicy nduja, ricotta curds and pine nuts. The food was so delicious, we even had leftovers the next day. We opened a double magnum of wine and toasted the evening – it really was the stuff of dreams.

Words by Sigourney Cantelo.

Photography by Jasmine Sleeman. @jasminsleeman

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