Monday, June 8, 2015

Washington Social Diary

All the flowers at the Hillwood gala were designed by Jason Gedeik, the museum's head of greenhouse and design operations. His masterpiece for the evening was this dress. Photo by Tony Powell for Hillwood.
by Carol Joynt

The Hillwood Gala was held this past week and while gray and wet skies threatened, Mother Nature did not get the upper hand. She was up against the formidable Marjorie Merriweather Post, after all. Even posthumously, her considerable will prevails. The occasion celebrated an exhibition of fashion gems from her closet. While there was a slight chill it did not rain and, spared the heat of a few days before, the men in their dinner jackets remained comfortable and the women in their evening gowns did not wilt.

The annual Hillwood party switched it up to black tie a few years ago and that put it on par with the other galas that close out the spring social season, including the Opera Ball and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Gala. For each, the price of admission is high, starting in the $1000’s for Hillwood and the Opera, and $500 on up for the Nats.
The Hillwood gala always takes place on the lawn of Hillwood in a tent that provides views of the gardens.
Ellen Charles heads to dinner with Antonia Gore. Inset: Ellen Charles welcoming guests to her grandmother's estate.
A panoramic view of the dinner in full swing.
The one-percenters come out in force for these occasions, attracting the young at heart. Hillwood’s event, a cocktail party and seated dinner for 350, is a social rite of the old-family, old-money, cave-dweller crowd — in other words, the less publicity the better — and the lavish Opera ball, with dessert and dancing for more than 500, appeals to a more actively social set who like their galas over the top. They both happen in the same week. After which the women send their gowns back to Rent the Runway.

The Dream Foundation Gala is a sports fan’s dream. The more than 600 guests, this year at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, got to rub shoulders with the team, players, coaches, front office officials, and the owners, the Lerner family. The only downer was that the Nats lost earlier in the day, 4-2, to the Chicago Cubs.
One of the pretty table arrangements which guests were encouraged to take home.
At each of the place-settings.
Marjorie Merriweather Post was a very social Washington woman. She liked to entertain and she entertained a lot and with aplomb — from the 30s through till her death in 1973. She had the houses and the staff to make it all come together with ease. As Hillwood pointed out, she also had “a great taste for clothing.” Its remarkable what the Hillwood curators keep finding in the Post stash, making for a collection that sustains new exhibitions, year after year. Last year’s gala heralded her collection of Cartier jewels.

Post’s Hillwood estate is vast and has charming outbuildings, including the “Andirondack” house, which is home to the fashion exhibition “Ingenue to Icon” from now till October. There are some pretty gowns, some charming gowns, some swanky gowns, but what stood out — in our time of celebrating women with “boss” swagger — was her Suffragette Suit. Full on boss, and recalled Ralph Lauren’s stunning collection the year he did the costumes for “Out of Africa.” Meryl Streep, as Karen Blixen, was total boss.
1930's swank from Marjorie Post's closet. 1930's swagger from Marjorie Post's closet — her Suffragette Suit.
Black and red evening glamour.
Walking through the exhibition with Post’s granddaughter, Ellen MacNeille Charles, it was interesting to listen to her reminisce as she gazed upon the range of dresses that were essential to a social life of another era. She observed that women don’t have that rigorous a fashion standard to obey anymore, meaning evening gowns for practically every night of the week, and was grateful.

Honestly, and in solidarity with Silicon Valley and Coachella, I’m eager for hoodies and flower crowns as evening wear.
Hillwood gala co-chair Betsy Kleeblatt.
Hillwood gala co-chair Julia Farr, Joseph Perta, and Hillwood executive director Kate Markert.
Janice and Ralph Shrader. Brad Kiley and Jamie Coley.
Joe Ruzzo, Daniel Heider, and Mark Lowham.
Jan Rosenberg and Nina Rumbough.
Sara and Peter O'Keefe. Joy Vige and Antonia Gore.
Schon Oppert, Nancy Guinee, Liza Trey, Bill Weimer, and Natasha Jadan.
Ellen McNeille Charles and Togo West.
A few other party Hillwood gala-goers ...

The night after Hillwood was a complete change of fashion gears. Quite stylish in its own way, but the modern and young version, was the “Black Whole” exhibition held at the Black Whiskey bar on 14th Street. Casual shirts, jeans, and easy summer dresses were the looks.

I was not an impartial guest at the opening. My son, Spencer Joynt, and JD Deardourff, both graphic designers, curated the show. It was crowded, loud and fun, especially for the artists, including Mike O’Brien, LA Johnson, Carolyn Hartmann, Fawna Xiao, Dave Bellard, Pepa Leon, Hope Sorenson and Sam Sieger. The invitation said, “this is an excuse to culture yourself and have a couple of drinks.” The artists, it noted, would also be selling their work, “as well as hanging out and meeting peeps.” Done and done.
Black Whiskey is in the heart of the scene on 14th Street. Spencer and JD designed and created the exhibition screen print.
Upstairs at Black Whiskey - culture and "meeting the peeps."
Graphic designers and "Black Whole" co-hosts Spencer Joynt and JD Deardourff. Spencer with long-time school chum Nina Charness.
Spencer greeting friends ...
Spencer, JD, and more artist friends.
Eric Hirshfield, Matt Forke, and Andrew Sullivan.
Page Evans and her daughters.
Lyndon Boozer, Shane Harris, and Dave Singleton.
Joe, Rob and Michelle.
Lots of whiskey at Black Whiskey. Relaxing under the drinks specials.
It wouldn't be a whiskey bar without a pool table.
Photographs by Tony Powell for Hillwood & Carol Joynt

Follow Carol on twitter @caroljoynt