Monday, April 12, 2010

Washington Social Diary

A sweet scene at the Washington Humane Society's “Fashion 4 Paws.”
HAUTE COUTURE AND WET NOSES
by Carol Joynt

Now that Desiree Rogers is out of her high profile White House job, who will be Washington’s new fashion icon, if anyone? Desiree was fashionable, she dressed with flair, was frank that she cared about fashion, all of which weakened her foothold in the city’s power structure, a vulnerability that came to the fore when the gatecrasher incident happened.

It will be unfortunate if the Desiree episode chills talented and ambitious Washington women who also are fashion forward, that they’ll put away the Balenciaga and pull out the St. John. It’s a cautionary tale of decades long endurance: that apart from Jackie Kennedy, Washington gets its knickers in a twist about fashion. The conventional wisdom is if a woman puts on an article of haute couture her brain short circuits. It’s enough to make one grab a burqa.
Moet, Yves and Carla, photo by Jean-Marie Perier circa 1998. By Cathleen Naundorf, a Philip Treacy chapeaux in London, 2009.
Saint Laurent overlooks the special cocktail bar at the Sofitel party.
Yves Saint Laurent in 1995, by Jean-Marie Perier.
Desiree Rogers, of course, had other issues that compromised her White House longevity, but it was the fashion thing that was the easy target. Desiree’s fashion sense was good for Washington – because it was instinctive, not by the numbers, and because it challenged the Mamie Eisenhower model that prevails among the older crowd and the Paris Hilton-inspired stripper chic favored by younger women. First Lady Michelle Obama is quite stylish, but she conscientiously makes that not singularly what she’s about. She has her own style, promotes certain designers, and leaves it there.

With or without Desiree, this past week brought a couple bursts of fashion and, like the spring blossoms and sunny weather, they were welcomed. Near the White House, at the Sofitel hotel, it was a celebration of French haute couture through the photographs of Derek Hudson, Cathleen Naundorf, Jean-Marie Perier and Gerard Uferas. Among flowing Moet champagne and plentiful glistening tins of Petrossian caviar, were the chic poses of Carla Bruni and Kate Moss, along with freeze frames of a cheerful Yves Saint Laurent and a severe Karl Lagerfeld.
Mint, parsley and other herbs were flash frozen and served as a cocktail treat. Petrossian in the foreground; in the background, Jean Paul Gaultier by Cathleen Naundorf.
Caviar, long absent from Washington parties, brought back courtesy of Sofitel and the Polka Galerie.
A mint leaf so frozen it crunched like a potato chip but tasted purely of mint.
In Sofitel's cocktail lounge, Kate Moss by Derek Hudson, 1998.
Welcome to Washington's Sofitel - a model wears Elisa Jimenez, photographed by Gerard Uferas.
Abraham Pelham Haute Couture, by Gerard Uferas.
All the photographs are compelling, and they are hung throughout the hotel’s very handsome and European main floor: lobby, bar, restaurant, concierge desk, front reception. The hotel’s dapper general manager, Pierre-Louis Renou, was everywhere at once as he welcomed arrivals, even taking time to spoon-feed some helpings of caviar to a few fortunate guests.
The entrance to Washington's Sofitel, with outside cafe.
Hustle and bustle outside the hotel's 15th street entrance.
The handsome and very European lobby of Washington's Sofitel hotel.
Pierre-Louis Renou, with hand raised, welcomes guests to the "Fashion Stills" photo exhibition.
The concierge desk with Karl Lagerfeld, in the background, by Jean-Marie Perier.
The clever interior of a Sofitel elevator. Above the elevator a reminder of what time it is in Sofitel's home city.
The other fashion event, happily, was all about wet noses, floppy ears and panting.

At the Italian Embassy, and for the fourth year running, one of Washington’s most dedicated and clever marketing maestros, Tara de Nicolas, pulled in a full house of the elite and charitable on behalf of the Washington Humane Society. The event, “Fashion 4 Paws,” is a combined VIP reception, gala dinner, fashion show, silent auction and opportunity for animal lovers to support or adopt new four-legged friends.
Tara de Nicolas, executive director of "Fashion 4 Paws." Animal friend and dog groomer extraordinaire, "Chichie" of Chichie's grooming spa, with Leo Joynt.
Over the runway, continuous notices of the animals up for adoption.
VIP tables went from $2500 up to $10,000, and at the top tier included bottle service of Cristal champagne, Emperor vodka and other perks. Individual models, wearing selected fashions from the Tysons Corner, Va., mall, were asked to raise a minimum of $3,000 each to walk the runway. There were also celebrity and honorary models.

The dog models had only one requirement: to be their adorable (and occasionally perplexed) selves. To that end, there was a bit of a canine traffic-jam Friday at Washington’s venerable Chichie’s Grooming Spa, where even First Dog “Bo” Obama has been a customer. Appropriately for Washington, Chichie is bipartisan; “Leader” Dole was a client for years. Chichie herself was in the audience, admiring her handiwork.
The audience.
Models view of the runway. Inset: Kiki Ryan strikes a pose as models stage for the runway.
The sponsors of the Washington Humane Society's fashion event.
Party food in the VIP lounge.
The dog walking area behind the Italian Embassy.
The event earned more than $315,000 on behalf of homeless dogs, cats and pet rabbits. Several guests submitted adoption applications, too. The models, and others involved in the evening’s success included: Italian Italian Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Santa’Agata, Alex Naini, Alexa Smith, Allison Katz, Allison Priebe Brooks, Amanda Carpenter, Amanda Little, Amber Sutton, Amit Anand, Andrea Rodgers, Annie Van Meter, April Jones, Ashley Hughes, Barbara Merola, Cara Townsend, Chantal Attias, Cheyenne Polk, Christine Sequenzia, Courtney Caldwell, Cristina Hosmer, Debbie Berkelhammer, Dondi Dahlgaard, Donna Donella, Elizabeth Murray, Erik Holzherr, Fletcher Gill, Hadley Gamble, Roby Penn, Jaclyn Glover, Jason Jones, Jay Varma, Jeff Lutton, Jennifer Barrett, Joe Robert III, Jorgre Andres, Josh Thomas, Joy Robertson, Julia Karpov, Keri Ann Meslar, Tiffani Cailor, Ashley Taylor,  Dana Perino, Sarah Schaffer, Karen Shalett, Kiki Ryan, Councilman Jack Evans, Angie Goff, Philippe Cousteau, Jan Cousteau, Michael Clements, Paul Wharton, Will Thomas, Anita Brikman, Karin Tanabe, Steve Chenevey, Lana Orloff, Carissa Maguire, Lindsay Suozzo, Wendy Gordon, Lisa Clark, Jessica Gibson, J. Matthew Lowe, Nikki Burdine, Marlene Hall, Pam Sorensen, Stephanie Green, Amanda Walker, Carl Becker, Seyhan Duru, Heather Guay, Windy Shepard, Amanda Polk, Aba Kwawu, Antonella Cinque, Julie Fields, Justine Magazine, Kate Manders, Tommy McFly, Victoria Michael, Tiffany Cater, Theresa Grant, Tate Yost, Taryn Fielder, Susie Aquirre, Susan Roberts, Sunanda Patel, Stefanie Snider, Pam Brown, Sara Trab Nielsen, Sarah Rosenwinkel, Shelley Tidmore, Nina Snow, Reese Gardner, Rachel Glaws, Noushin Behnam Nourbakhsh, Kirk Wiles, Krista Johnson, Kathryn Minor, Katy Johnson Nelson, Kristina Robertson, Mona Oswald, Nina Snow, Makeda Saggau-Sackey, Marybeth Coleman, Maureen Bryant, McLean Robbins, Micky Farivar, Madeline Wade, Lisa Schreiber, Lisa Clark, Lena Aburdene.
Photographs by Carol Joynt. Carol is the host of The Q&A Cafe in Washington, D.C.

Visit her at: caroljoynt.com. Follow Carol on Twitter.