Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Washington Social Diary in Review

Spotted at The Washington Winter Show ...
REMEMBERING THE MEMORABLE WSDS OF 2011
by Carol Joynt

Contributing columns to a website with “social diary” in the name pretty much nails the mandate. However, for every party piece there’s also some context as to what the event was about and why it mattered. That’s what makes NYSD compelling for the writers and, presumably, the readers, too. Therefore at the end of a year of going out to every imaginable kind of event it is possible to distill what remained in memory and why. Doing the math, there were 50+ postings of Washington Social Diary in 2011, plus several travel and restaurant reports. Here are the dozen events and places that I think deserve an encore. In no particular order:

• The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Picasso Exhibition Opening. Wow. We traveled down to Richmond, stayed at the legendary Jefferson Hotel, and partied with a Who’s Who of Virginia power, wealth and society. It was an altogether excellent party that combined an enriching exhibition, good entertainment and thought through details on the part of the organizers. Full column ...
Picasso at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art.
• This one wasn’t an event but about a meal, a visit to The Hunter’s Head Tavern in Upperville, Virginia. The moment was deep February – brrrr – but the hearth and food at Hunter’s Head helped to shake off winter’s chill. This tavern is popular with hunt country folk year round, but it is especially inviting in the winter months.
Full column
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Upperville, VA's Hunter's Head Tavern.
• He belongs principally to New York and Palm Beach, but it's a treat when Jeff Pfeifle comes to Washington. This year it was aboard his yacht, Sea Loafers, to host a party for his DC friends. We rarely have it so good. Also in this column: an aquatic soiree hosted by the National Geographic Society.
Full column
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Jeff Pfeifle hosting a yacht party in Washington.
• Under its new name, “The Washington Winter Show,” this January staple is still evolving from the ruins of what was “The Washington Antiques Show,” but if the first effort was any indication, it is in almost every way an improvement. It showed that Washington not only can party with exuberance all on its own, without pols and diplomats, but wins big by combining the old and young fogies in one event.
Full column
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The red carpet arrival at the Washington Winter Show.
• This particular column was titled: “White House Correspondents Dinner! Celebrities! A Book Party! Georgetown!” and it is that kind of mash up, but I recall it for three reasons: the after-party hosted by French Ambassador Francois Delatrre at his residence following the White House Correspondents Dinner. This man had to face the forces of both Vanity Fair and Bloomberg, the event co-hosts, when he’d only been on the job a matter of days! Also, the eve-of dinner hosted by David and Katherine Bradley.
The French Ambassador, Francois Delattre, at his residence.
And, especially, a garden party hosted by Washingtonian publisher Cathy Williams for Washingtonian editor Garrett Graff and his book on the FBI, “The Threat Matrix.” The guest list made it memorable, including three super lawyers, media, FBI, and the hosts’ son riding a tricycle through it all. (Full disclosure: Cathy and Garrett are now my bosses, but I didn’t work for them then!)
Full column ...
Super-lawyers at play.
Marjorie Merriweather Post had very strong opinions about how to throw a party, particularly a wedding party, and her daughters gave her plenty of chances to employ her ideas and will. All these years later the folks who run Hillwood Museum, her former home, put together an exhibition, “Wedding Belles, Bridal Fashions From the Marjorie Merriweather Post Family 1874-1958,” and launched it with a faux wedding reception on the lawn. Memorable, to say the least.
Full column
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Ellen Charles welcomes the guests to Hillwood, wearing a pin that was a wedding present from her grandmother, Marjorie Merriweather Post.
• The young men of Washington’s Capital Club got very upset with me after I wrote about their “Sinatra Soiree” event, mostly because I published the names of their membership (note: taken from their website!), and had some fun with their sartorial ways their favorite message board, but the fact is I liked the party. There’s a vibrant young social scene in DC, and it doesn’t get enough attention from the “adult” social media.
Full column ...
Men in their madras, at The Capital Club's "Sinatra Soiree"
Aubrey Sarvis is a close friend. He is also the executive director of the group who managed the repeal of “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.” When they had their annual dinner this year, they had a lot to celebrate. I’ll be honest, I’d just had surgery and it was only because of friendship that I grabbed my camera and attended the dinner, but I’m glad I did. It proved that “cause” dinners don’t have to be boring.
Full column ...
Aubrey Sarvis (center) with David Keller and Susan Dimarco at SLDN's 19th annual "National Dinner."
• This column, about the murder in Georgetown of Viola Drath, got a lot of attention, but it is in every way the opposite of a happy, frothy “social” story. It’s sad to the core. The suspect, her husband, is still in jail and facing trial.
Full column ...
Viola Drath in The Washington Times, where she wrote a column (Photo: James R. Brantley/The Washington Times).
• One of the perks of attending a Washington party is the often-beautiful location. The Italian ambassador’s residence, Villa Firenze, is just that. This occasion was a “country barbecue,” bringing together the unlikely combo of ribs and Italia.
Full column
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Arriving for a "Country Barbecue" at the Villa Firenze.
• In August, when it ran, I called this column “Austin On My Mind,” and, all these months later, it’s still on my mind. I’ve been back once since and was not disappointed. What an interesting, vital, fun and tasty city.
Full column ...
The sweet life in Austin.
• This is my idea of a great assignment: to write about Manhattan luxury hotels. I could do it every month. In the instance of this column it was three hotels in one trip in March, a good time to get to New York for some early spring shopping.
Full column ...
The best New York hotel lobbies feel like home rather than a lobby. The Sherry scored big in that regard.
• Lastly, a little self-promotion. For me, easily, the most memorable party of the year was the fete hosted by DPC, JH and Shane Krige at The Plaza Hotel’s Palm Court for the launch of my memoir, “Innocent Spouse.” This was an Eloise all-grown-up fantasy come true. Interestingly, the column about my New York-book launch whirlwind starts with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose sex scandal was just breaking in NY and back home in Washington.
Full column ...
Carol Joynt, stands between her hosts for the evening, DPC, Shane Krige, and Jeffrey Hirsch. Photo: Jill Krementz.
Carol Joynt's memoir, Innocent Spouse, can be ordered from Amazon, HERE.