Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Washington Social Diary

Al Pacino is flanked by fellow honorees Emily Pulitzer and Rita Dove at a dinner held in their honor.
by Stephanie Green

It’s a bitterly cold evening in Washington, and Sarah Jessica Parker, New Yorker to her fingertips, frequent Vogue cover girl, and star of the most stylish sitcom in history, is not at Fashion Week, but here at my dinner table, studiously avoiding the “F” word: fashion.

“That’s so un-Carrie of you!” I tell her when she confesses with pride she never attends Fashion Week shows and parties.

“But I’m not Carrie Bradshaw! I have other interests besides fashion!” she insists.
Indeed, she does.
Sarah Jessica Parker's signature high heels in a lovely pistachio shade to match her dress.
That’s why she is a member of the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities, which champions arts education and awareness, and why she is here, of all places.
On February 13, the President bestowed the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal on distinguished American artists and writers like actor Al Pacino and poet and scholar John Ashbery.

The evening before, a dinner was held in their honor at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and I was kindly invited by my friends at the Ovation Group, one of the major sponsors of the evening, to be their guest.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian was the venue for the dinner.
Clockwise from above: Totem pole at Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian; Unusual centerpieces were subdued but had their own flair; Dinner featured all the right personal touches.
I arrived early to check out the who’s who at the pre-reception.

My friend, photographer Alfredo Flores, whispered to me that Parker had already arrived, and I must admit, I was astonished to see her casually mingling with guests with nary a trace of diva-ness.

She was wearing a sea foam green cocktail dress, sporting tousled bedroom hair, and her signature stilettos in a lovely pistachio shade to match her dress.
Sarah Jessica Parker with a fan.
Mr. and Mrs. George Stevens, Jr.
Alfre Woodard chats with a guest.
 Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia.
Al Pacino and Aaron Maybin of the New York Jets.
As I made my rounds I chatted up George Stevens, Jr. , the producer of the Kennedy Center Honors, Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia, and the evening’s guest speaker, John Lithgow, who was as gracious one on one as he was delivering his remarks.

On the way down the staircase to dinner, I saw Pacino, still devilishly handsome in his seventies, cuddling with his female companion, a pretty brunette with a sexy Latin accent.

After the dinner, when Pacino gladly posed for photos with adoring female guests, I overheard her purr, “I get so jealous!”

The evening really got interesting when I discovered I was sitting at Parker’s table, in fact right across from her and White House Chef Sam Kass.
Sarah Jessica Parker, White House Chef Sam Kass, and Bianca Pulitzer.
The evening's guest speaker John Lithgow National Endowment of the Humanities Chair Jim Leach.
Parker, a ballet and theatre enthusiast, sat in rapt attention during the dinner while Lithgow, Stevens, and Jim Leach, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, gave stirring speeches about the importance of fostering an appreciation of “grace and beauty” in our national culture.

I was impressed with her politesse, curiosity about everything around her, and sincere commitment to American arts.

Good choice, Mr. President!

I asked Kass to give me his read on the menu for the evening: artichoke salad, lamb chops with corn soufflé, and a light dessert ("Salad needed dressing, but thumbs way up on the lamb").
Medal recipients gather after dinner for group photo.
Last Thursday, I headed down to Neiman-Marcus, with noticeable enthusiasm in my gait, for their annual Spring Beauty Preview Event hosted by Neiman’s Liberty Jones.

This party is every girl's dream come true as representatives from the chic first floor cosmetic counters fill your swag bag with the latest lotions, potions, and fragrances yet to make their debut to the general public.
Neiman Marcus held its annual beauty preview event for style writers to sample new products.
I was joined at the event by my colleagues from Washington media like Katherine Boyle of The Washington Post and Kara Manos from Capitol File. I’m a perfume junkie, so I was especially delighted to try Valentina, the new scent from Valentino, with its ultra-feminine floral and gardenia notes.

I walked away with a hot pink Neiman’s tote with facial creams and mascara from Estee Lauder, plumping lip glosses from Chantecaille and Bobbi Brown, decadent nail lacquer from Deborah Lippmann, luxurious eye creams from Chanel and Amore Pacific, and a cleanser and body cream from ReVive, a line I’m anxious to explore.
Katherine Boyle of The Washington Post. Bobbi Brown's colors of spring.
Deborah Lippman's nail products cater to the rich and famous.
Everything was coming up roses as we were treated with the best of spring's fresh smelling fragrances and cosmetics. Valentino's new fragrance Valentina.
Of course, this doesn’t include the perfume vials from Balenciaga, Prada, Chloe, and Tom Ford.

While we were given mini-tutorials on the new products and sampled the wares, we were served champagne and cupcakes with the Neiman Marcus signature butterfly.
(It’s always important to have sustenance when you are working this hard.)
Needless to say, when I walked out of the store, I felt like a shoplifter with my loot overflowing from my bags.
Host of the evening, Liberty Jones of Neiman Marcus, poses next to the spring beauty tote given to customers who spend at least one hundred dollars at the beauty and fragrance counters.
The lovely ladies of Chantecaille, whose creative director, Olivia, is a fixture on the New York social scene.
A Laura Mercier rep gives my colleagues a mini-tutorial in this spring's must have products.
The ladies of Sisley promote their most popular product: their self-tanner.
When I arrived home, I was a kid on Christmas morning, unwrapping my pretty packages and taking inventory of all my new toys.

The Neiman Marcus (and Bergdorf Goodman, for our NYC friends) Beauty Event runs February 23 through March 4. If a customer purchases one hundred dollars in beauty products during this time, she will receive the beauty tote bag and samples mentioned above.
Cupcakes with the signature Neiman Marcus butterfly.
I ended my week, quite literally on a high note, at the Georgetown home of Simon and Ruth Jacobsen for “Music! Gayety! & Dalliance," a Dan Ruskin piano concert and dessert reception.

Cozy fireplaces, warming cocktails, and the Jacobsen family dog (a sprightly Jack Russell named Rex) put guests in a whimsical mood for the nostalgic tunes of Cole Porter and Lerner and Loewe that Ruskin played with his bewitching blend of artistry and humor.
Family dog Rex was ever the charming host and nearly upstaged the evening's entertainment.
Bartender to keep the spirits flowing.
Ever the unflappable hosts, Simon and Ruth calmly negotiated not one, but two, fire alarms, not to mention a door coming unhinged, nearly falling on guests sitting nearby.
“I’ve worked in some fire traps, but this takes the cake! wisecracked Ruskin when he took to the grand piano in the Jacobsen parlor for his concert.

Jacobsen and Ruskin were given rousing ovations at the concert’s end for saving the night and lifting our spirits with the gift of music.
Jacobsen guests relax by the fire before the concert begins.
Host Simon Jacobsen (navy tie) is surrounded by guests (from left) Eileen and Robin West and Eric Fischer.
Evening's hostess Ruth Jacobsen with Francesca Craig, the French Embassy's social secretary.
Concert featuring Cole Porter classics by the irrepressible Dan Ruskin.
Guests give Ruskin and Jacobsen a standing ovation.
Dessert buffet with sinful delights.
Photos by Stephanie Green.
Follow Stephanie on twitter at stephlgreen.