Last evening, at a cocktail party at Asprey on the Upper East Side, Cherie Blair picked up a glass of Champagne from a silver tray. “Oh maybe I will have just one,” she said. “I have to be on a plane back to London later.” Ms. Blair–the barrister, author and philanthropist and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair–was at the British luxury goods boutique to celebrate her new Cherie Blair Foundation, and the saleswomen were positively ecstatic at her presence.
“She’s really a bit of an idol for me,” one of the saleswoman giddily confessed as Ms. Blair was taken around the store and introduced to Asprey’s employees, each of whom was guarding their own marble case of expensive, royal-looking jewels.
As Ms. Blair, who was wearing a silver wide-neck blazer, a black pencil skirt, sling-back heels and red lipstick, was shown a British Exploration–inspired necklace and a royal-collection-inspired ring, oohs and aahs could be heard all around. The guest of honor even broke into a girlish giggle upon seeing a case with a sparkly jewelry set with stones arranged in the shape and color of the British flag. (One of the Asprey employees playing host to Ms. Blair swiftly asked if she might be able to wear the chunky British flag ring for the duration of the evening.)
Ms. Blair has made the headlines in England for a variety of reasons: the girl who was raised in Liverpool by a single mother and went on to be a successful barrister and wife of the future prime minister; best friend of a woman who got her involved in a real estate deal with an ex-con; mother of four who got pregnant at the age of 45 when she embarrassingly forgot her “contraceptive equipment” at home when she and her husband went to visit the queen at Balmoral Castle; a fan of New Age rebirthing rituals; and the author of the best-selling memoir Speaking for Myself: My Life from Liverpool to Downing Street.
But last night she was intent on celebrating her new foundation, which provides networking, mentoring and small loans to women in developing countries. While she was at it, she managed to sign a few copies of her memoir, which was published in the U.S. in October by Little, Brown.
“The foundation came about because of my personal journey as a child who was brought up by two strong women, and always wanted to do something for women. The other part of my personal journey is going from Liverpool and ending up in this situation,” Ms. Blair told the Daily Transom. “It’s partly about education and it’s also about the fact that I had my own economic independence. I was able to use that education to become a lawyer and become everything else. So I think one of the most powerful things that we can do to help other women in other countries, is give them economic independence.”
Ms. Blair has been in New York for three days and spent most of the time working to promote the foundation.
“This is probably the most fun thing I’ve done the whole time I’ve been here,” she said, still nursing her glass of Champagne. “It’s nice sometimes just to be a girl and enjoy pretty things.”
We wondered what everyday life is like nowadays for Ms. Blair and her husband, a little more than a year after he stepped down from his role as prime minister.
“The strangest thing is that we see less of my husband now. When he was prime minister, he couldn’t get away so much, but now because of his Middle East role, he’s away a lot,” replied Ms. Blair. “My little boy was just saying, ‘I see less of Daddy now.’ I’m traveling a lot more too, but I try not to travel too much because I have an 8-year-old son at home. So I do my legal practice, I do a lot of work on my foundation, and I have my kids. I still have a 21-year-old, 23-year-old, and a 25-year-old. They still turn up to their mum.”
Ms. Blair was then approached by a congratulating fan, asking her to autograph another copy of the book.
“I need a marker,” Ms. Blair politely said to one of the saleswomen. “Who should I make it out to?”