Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Washington Social Diary

The carpeted path from the Bradlee's house to the tented tennis court before sunset.
Fashion in Washington? Okay, We’ll Play.
By Carol Joynt

A month or so ago, as The Washington Post prepped it's new FW fashion rag, the bosses there called me and asked who I thought was the best dressed person in Washington.

Well, hello, there are few more loaded questions in this the most fashion-challenged city on the planet.  I mean, remote Russian villages could have more "fashion" than DC. But I was game and I took the question seriously. I said, "Honestly, even though I'm not always on the same page with her, Hillary Clinton showed on the campaign trail exactly how a woman in her role should dress, and that's what fashion means in Washington, dressing appropriately, and so I would nominate Hillary Clinton."

Katharine Weymouth, Ann McDaniel, and Sally Quinn
FW finally has come to fruition, it will be on top of the Post when it lands on subscribers doorsteps this morning, and I've got to hand it to Washington Post Media CEO Katharine Weymouth and friend/colleague Sally Quinn for giving this idea some very serious push.

Is it possible for Washington to have "fashion?" Does it want "fashion?" Will the Potomac change the direction of its flow?  Not for me to say, but they tossed a good party just the same. It was packed with probably all that's available of Washington's younger and attractive women, some of the men who like to hang with or chase them, and a few venerable old folks for good measure. It was held in Ben and Sally's garden (in Washington those two don't need last names), and everyone involved had on their game faces because, after all, who wants to launch a fashion publication on the same day the stock market plummets more than 500 points?

It was certainly a diversion from the hard news.

FW stands for Fashion Washington. It’s out twice this year and becomes a monthly next year. It is a bold effort to lively up the Post and one of Weymouth’s first big additions to the paper since becoming its publisher earlier this year. She also recently picked a new executive editor, Marcus Brauchli. Needless to say, she’s got everyone’s attention here as she fills the role but faces greater challenges than were known by her uncle, Donald Graham, and grandmother, Katharine Graham, before her.
The scene at the FW launch party.
Weymouth said FW is Sally Quinn’s “brainchild.” Perhaps, too, it is a belated gift to her grandmother. She said the late Mrs. Graham lamented that Washington media never gave much due to parties and fashion, and that “while it may have taken 40 years, we’re here.” In the premier issue Weymouth asks, “Has the nation’s capital become a style capital, too?” Her answer? “Washington’s days as a dowdy backwater are far, far behind.” Hmmm. In a city of risks and trial balloons, Weymouth and Quinn do have the guts of riverboat gamblers.

The party was held at the late 18th century N Street mansion that is home to Quinn and husband Ben Bradlee, who are as core Post family as non-Grahams can get. Joining them to welcome guests was son Quinn Bradlee. Everyone was ushered through the home and down a garden path to a white and carpeted tent given a pulse with colored lights, flowers, sofas, tiny but tasty canapés, sizable vodka drinks, and tall models. Did the guests believe Washington can get in the fashion groove? The consensus was the city’s style flow will be decided by many forces, not the least of which are economic stability and who wins that White House job.
Little boxes of sweet potato fries. An assortment of cooling (and cool) drinks.
The cover of FW's premier issue.
At the bar with the signature FW drink - made with ginger Vodka and other potions.
The swag bag was remarkable because it included a t-shirt that was cut to fit a woman’s body rather than the physique of a 300-lb man, which is the swag bag t-shirt norm.

Among the guests were DC’s very pregnant first lady, Michelle Fenty, who received FW’s first award for “DC’s most fashionable.” Also there were Hugh Newell Jacobsen, Angus and Sissy Yates, Ali Wentworth, Walter and Ann Pincus, Erwin Gomez and James Packard Gomez, Gerald and Eden Rafshoon, Patti Cummings, Dal LaMagna and Juleanna Glover, Debbie Dingell, Anthony Lanier and Philippe Lanier, Pamela Brown, Alison Starling, Sherry Moeller, Pamela Sorensen, Jenny Abramson, Paul Wharton, Aoife McCarthy, Paul Frazer, Katherine and David Bradley, Alan Greenspan, Susan Nixon, Kate Michael, Marcus Brauchli, Tony Podesta, Mike Green, Brooks Laich, Nick Backstrom and Nakia Sanford.
Clockwise from top left: The main hall of the Bradlee home; A home with a history: the plaque on the Bradlee mansion; The Bradlee's front door; The living room, through a porch window.
The Bradlee's library ... from the back porch. The Bradlee's back porch - a Georgetown classic.
Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth and Quinn Bradlee. Dal LaMagna and Chris Correa.
Quinn Bradlee, Ben Bradlee, and Hugh Newell Jacobsen. Erwin Gomez and James Packard-Gomez.
Val Cooke and Erin O'Brien. Anthony Lanier with his son, Philippe Lanier.
Bob O'Toole and Melinda Estridge. Sissy Wentworth Yates, Angus Yates, and Ali Wentworth Stephanopoulos.
Dal LaMagna and Juleanna Glover climb the Bradlee's back steps. FW publisher Jenny Abramson. Paul Frazer.
Elie Petrakis gives FW a read. Jennifer Carter and Missy Edwards.
Nancy Chistolini with Debbie Dingell. Lori Murphy Lee, DC's first lady, Michelle Fenty, and Dahlia Neiss.
Alison Starling, Pamela Brown, Patrick Gavin, and Aoife McCarthy. Pamela Sorensen, hiding in the palms.
Walter Pincus and Eden Rafshoon. Sally Quinn.
Photographs by Carol Joynt. Carol Joynt is the host of The Q&A Cafe, a talk show at Nathans Restaurant in Washington, D.C.