Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Five Star Pampering

So while in Miami for Fashion Week, I headed back to Acqualina, mom in tow. We were originally there for the launch, and after the rough weekend battling paparazzo and denying my need for sleep in more than 4-hour increments, some big huge pampering was in order.

Miami's version of the Mercedes in DC is the Bentley--on a percentage basis, it's about equal. And as you drive up the circular brick driveway in Sunny Isles Beach, about 30% of the town's Bentley allotment is parked there. I think they leave those in front and hide the non-Bentleys in the valet garage. It's an impressive site nonetheless.

Clicking down the marbled foyer, left, left, and there in front it sits: Espa, the 20,000 square foot haven of spa perfection.

We each chose the 2-hour custom package simply called "Espa Time": the time block is open; you meet with your consultant and together you lay out your treatment package on the spot. Facial, foot massage (see FW Mayhem--this was the day after), back massage, salt scrub were my choices.

In front of us at the reception counter was a Marshall--she was about 70 with more work done than anyone I had ever seen before. Her wraparound Diors couldn't hide what had to be at least four eyejobs, her short white shorts definitely had some lipo relocation beneath them, and she had the chest of a 20 year old (beneath a Versace strapless scarf blouse, natch). It was rather unsettling.

As you're filling out your leather-bound preferences list, the assistant quietly brings over a tray with a lemongrass-infused icy cold washcloth and a small cup of their cold soup dujour--orange watermelon on this particular day. Yum.

You are then led into the exquisitely appointed changing rooms, complete with hot, cold and ice shower stations, then to the "relaxation room"--a bedded, bambooed room to meditate (or, if, say, you are not quite the fan of sitting still for 30 seconds, for catching up on T&C and US Weekly). You also have use of the private Espa pool during your stay, before and after your service, so pack up if you head down.

The spa decor consists of browns, plums, glass and bamboo throughout; the custom products they use are scented with a spicy, woody yet not too heavy mix (their candles hold the scent perfectly). Very relaxing all. Kind of a darker, more zen-inspired version of John Barrett, actually.

The services have been Americanized a bit since their launch--they were anti-extractions for facials, but have now incorporated them; the emphasis overall seems a bit more results-focused on services than before.

My aesthetician, Elizabeth: wonderful. The obligatory product mention, but no hardsell; a top-notch facial, and a massage that put me to sleep (and I'm not usually a massage person).

So when you're sunning in Miami this winter, head there if you can. The resort is wonderful. But Espa: extraordinary.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ninth Floor, Please.

I don't know exactly when it happened, but one day, after lobbying DirectTV for years, we finally got the Style channel. Hoorah!

But apparently while I was away, Style went to Suckytown. Who replaced hour-long shows of the Paris shows with weird and creepy "dress like your favorite star" shows? Boo.

But then tonight, the greatest man in the universe, my husband*, was flipping channels. And due to the aforementioned greatestness, he looked at his new plasma and said, "Hey, isn't that the guy that used to do your hair?". And there in front of me was John Barrett. Cutting hair in Knoxville, Tennessee.*

Split Ends: the show that made Style not suck. Awesome.

*My husband has also identified Dolce and Gabbana and Zac Posen and, maybe he couldn't tell them apart, but there's a good chance he would be able to point to Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough and know that those were the guys whose suit I desperately needed from Kirna Zabete last year. Greatest. Husband. Ever.

They (I) Say That All Press Is Good Press...


Back from the Adirondacks. What a relaxing week.

We stayed at Silver Lake, at what was a prestigious camp for girls that operated from 1911 until 1972. Each of the rooms in the main lodge and bungalows had a name--ours was Park Avenue. At the end of each summer, each of the groups of campers would make a plaque in honor of theirs. As an American Studies major, it was just fascinating--rows and rows of handmade pictures from the 1940's lining the walls, painted and signed by little girls with names like Rockefeller and Pulitzer and Hutton. My favorite ones were signs that incorporated their printed name tags from their clothing. You could almost hear the little girls giggling in the halls at night. Oh wait, that was the bats.

Aquaman appeared on the last day, which was the perfect way to end the week. Those in charge went for replicating the true Aquaman outfit vs. some of us who wanted to embellish, so his orange-starred speedos and flipppers went unused. A solid all-around humiliation nonetheless.

I had no internet access for the entire week, save for about an hour each day when we drove the half-hour ride into the nearest town, Au Sable Forks, where spotty Blackberry access could be found. Trying to answer 15 vms and 30 emails each day with no way to send attachments and in a very small window was challenging (especially with everyone's fall issues closing up rightthisveryminute), but I survived with a few glitches and one quick glance at Page Six at the end of the week (Lindsay--for shame! Get yourself a new entourage!).

But upside: in a true smalltown moment, as my BFF and I were in the local general store, the owner happened to mention that he was heading over to the Grand Union, bouquet of balloons in hand. We mentioned that we were heading there next, and he asked us if we could drop off the balloons for his son, Mark, who was celebrating his birthday.

When we arrived, the cashiers and produce people started gathering around with excitement. As they went to fetch the birthday boy, one stepped forward and asked, "So, are you one of those singing telegrams?". "Um...sure," came our wary reply. And then there we were, belting out Happy Birthday (not altogether well, though most from the crowd joined in). So when we headed into town for the rest of the week, we were the Singing Telegram Girls.

Okay, off to a photoshoot, then finishing up some web projects, but first a little DSS scoop: the VIP hour will be DJ'd by none other than Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Off to vaca....

Off to a week in the Adirondacks, Dirty Dancing style. A group of us have rented an old girls' camp, complete with rundown cabins and lake. Hopefully we'll have the time of our lives.

We were iffy about going until our friend, Halfro (college friends and roommates all), bet our group in a somewhat drunken stupor that if the "marrieds" (four of us total) actually showed up, he would don a full-on Aquaman costume, have one of us canoe him out to the middle of the lake, he'd swim to shore, emerge from the water and walk down the shoreline introducing himself, friends and strangers alike, as Aquaman with a completely serious look on his face.

And with that, our vacation plans were set. Although the costume didn't arrive, so ten of us each picked a piece of the ensemble to bring. I'm in charge of the orange speedos. Of note in the costume are the green leggings, yellow dishwashing gloves, nose plug, waterwings, flippers and "A" buckle.

Needless to say, we've granted ourselves a bit of artistic license.

When I return: news of the District Sample Sale (okay, I'll spill it now: Wednesday, September 12. The VIP tickets will be So. Damn. Worthwhile. Believe tickets will go on sale 8/23), two other tres fun events locked down for the fall, and a play by play of the world's greatest 5-star spa, Acqualina.

Or maybe you'll get those from me during my vaca if we get bored with the torturing of Halfro.

Have a great week!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Back to the vapid in a flash....

A beautiful story from a beautiful person (who happens to be my sister-in-law) can be found here. And if you're a dear and vote for it, she could win a trip, courtesy of Conde Nast. Being that she's taking care of her awesome 3-year old by herself in Texas while her husband is in Iraq, she deserves it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back to NYC

Tonight: the opening of the Maria Felix sale at Christie's New York.

Of note: the leopard print "red" carpet; the fabulousness that, once again, is Lydia Fenet; the estate of Ms. Felix; meeting James of Park Avenue Peerage. What a sweet guy, a total highlight. Loved him. And the way cool Billy Farrell from Patrick McMullan.

Estate sales are a such a mix of emotions: attend one and you're part historian, part collector, part creepy voyeur. But it almost moved me to tears walking though what was her amazing life, just in things.

Beautiful paintings, china, hand-embroidered chairs, old, old books, so many awards, and an entire room lit in blue, filled with her Tiffany blue pieces: chandeliers, vases, a salt and pepper shaker shaped like a coach with blue s&p's in the carriage; couture clothing.

Then the red carpet started: first: smacked down by Bill Cunningham. Doh! Then Tinsley Mortimer, Chita Rivera, Hamish Bowles, Nina Garcia, Thom Filicia, Brandon Davis (once again) who completely tried to maul one of the girls in our group; Norma Quintero; photo editor Cary Leitzes; Angel Sanchez (fresh from designing Eva's wedding gown!); and countless others that, had I not guzzled about 4 glasses of champagne and quick, I'd probably remember better.

Some from our group split off to head to the Hairspray premiere, some to some bar near the Shoreham, our cute little hotel. And a few of us: back to our beds, end of a long, fun, but tiring weekend.

P.S. Additional sighting: Lucy Liu, heading off my elevator at Bergdorf's.

Turns Out, We're All Star-Effers...

I don't know, I guess I just kinda thought that Miami people were more used to the notion of celebrity than those of us in DC. There's just SO much ostentatious wealth everywhere you look, lots of celebs are down there, the events scene is about 100x that of Washington...

...but then Jessica Simpson's swimwear launched at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. And then my theory proved all kinds of wrong.

Shay Todd show: oh, about 20 photogs, seating was at capacity, which was maybe 350.

JS show: about 200 photogs, standing room only. Just utter madness.

But first, a little digression.

I was staying at my sister's beautiful apartment (she's still on her uber-luxe tour of Italy), so I had free reign in her closet and with her beauty products. Worth the trip in and of itself.

First night: Dolce & Gabbana black lace stretch dress, which I've been coveting forever. Standing in line to get into the tent, saw Brandon Davis' girlfriend breeze through the VIP line, but Mr. Davis: denied. Tried the "don't you know who I am" bit, but not so much. Also seen: club promoter Ingrid Casares with her companion all weekend, stylist Robert Verdi; Andy Summers, though holed up in the VIP room at the Sagamore (a collection of his photos from the Police taken in the 80's is currently on display/on sale there); heard Andy Garcia was there but didn't spot him.

Next day: favorite Tory top, also a long-time covet, during the day; pilfered for night: gold alligator strappy sandals with twisted metal stiletto heel (worn with my Chinese silk RL pants that I wear to damn everything).

First stop: Rik-Rak Salon's Sagamore outpost for an editorial meeting/foot massage. Yeah, tough. But thank goodness for that relaxing start, because the night ahead...

So, the JS Show. First, the suits: surprisingly cute. The show soundtrack opened with American Woman, some Prince thrown in as well--was very fun. The models: better than at any other show; all were skinny with huge boobies. One looked EXACTLY like JS (who was seated in the front row with her mother and Jamie-Lynn Sigler).

Also of note: crazypants Dennis Rodman, there with drag queen extraordinaire Elaine Lancaster. Apparently not happy that he wasn't the center of attention, he got up mid-show, started dancing across the runway, then over to the left of the runway (but still in front of the photogs) and continued dancing. It was just bizarre.

Then came the after party at the Shore Club.

First, a shout-out: to the three J's: Josh and his two cohorts whose names I can't remember but they were J's, managers of the Red Room all. Cool as hell, especially under pressure. That's a job where you could seriously be a complete prick with attitude, and none of them were, not in the least. They were quite fabulous.

My job: get bottle of liquor into the hands of Ms. Simpson when she arrived. Get CEO of said liquor in her velvet-roped area. Find our photog and snap a picture. Easy, right?

As the night ticked on, the Red Room at Sky Bar (at Shore Club) was just getting more and more (and more and more) packed. Then I noticed security sweeps starting to come through. Then the paparazzi started coming in. Then I started inching my way up and...

KABLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMKABLAM went the flashbulbs. Talent hath arrived.

I was about three people back from the ropes, literally getting thrown around like a ping pong ball in my gold stilettos (which, as they were pilfered, didn't fit me perfectly so they hurt like hell and I was pretty wobbly). Seriously thought I was going to get trampled. It was actually frightening. Security tried to calm things down, but that was just not happening.

Made it up to the front, about 5 feet away. Ken Paves was dancing on a chair for the photogs, Jessica was vamping like the expert that she is. It was impressive to see her turn it on just like that.

Then I found myself barking some orders, handing stuff over, we grabbed the photog, SNAPSNAP. Done.

Turned around and JS's publicist was standing there, release order in hand stating that we couldn't use the photo.

Foiled at the velvet rope. Damn. Impressed by her people, though. I mean, it was lightning fast.

Hobbled out of the event, stopping to load up from the Smashbox lady--a woman walking around with a literal tray of Smashbox that was yours for the taking. Awesome. Then over to the outside bar, to order two $20 glasses of champagne (it was free inside, but we just couldn't be bothered--it was just so packed and exhausting), sat outside with our Blackberries, emailing the media our scoops, then through the hotel where two men who looked exactly like the Night at the Roxbury guys tried to pick us up, even when I said, "thanks, but happily married with a baby."

Then out of South Beach, back to the apartment, gingerly placing the somewhat trashed shoes into their plastic case labeled with a Polaroid (and then went straight for the La Mer).

Next installment: spa day at five-star Acqualina.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

part three...

At Jessica Simpson's show. Good god: mass chaos.

Friday, July 13, 2007

blogging via cell, part deux

I'm at MB fashion week (swim) in Miami, currently at the Shay Todd show. Kind of Tory meets.Juicy meets lower-rent Balenciaga. Oh, and a little Xanadu.

For the record, I'm a pasty white, non-exotic cow.

Though the model heading down the runway at present has a horrific wedgie.

Ps. Andy Summers is here!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's a..:

Blogging via cell to let you know that at 2:30 am, DC Celine had herself a bouncing baby girl!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ode to Valentino

I was just reading about Valentino's 45th anniversary/75th birthday in Rome* (unfortunately, I couldn't make it because I, um, was busy...with...um...).

Anyhoo, in honor of the man and his legendary career, I share with you my very own Valentino story. It would have been published in Glamour in 1998, but they shortened my brilliant, enchanting 1,500 word essay to basically the following:

"I met Oprah. She was nice."

So I will bore you with said story here.

It was my sister's birthday, and as her present, her husband at the time bought her two very fabulous tables at a charity fashion show for Valentino. Oprah was the mistress of ceremonies; Donald T. was at the table next to us (his wife at the time, Marla Maples, was one of the models). Elizabeth Vargas was at my table along with a bunch of my sister's other friends/New York contemporaries.

I, still in full-on hippie era, was shipped the entire ensemble I was to wear to the function: (completely non-flattering) Chanel suit and shoes, proper jewelry, I think even some mascara was sent my way. It's not like I would have shown up in my Birks, but what with my whopping editorial pittance, I couldn't afford much better than the AT sale rack.

Models are models for a reason. Celebs and wives of should stay off the runway without some serious training. But I digress.

Our group was invited to the opening of the Valentino boutique afterward, and it was just beautiful. The red-carpeted entrance featured two HUGE V's made from red roses; I was handed a biscotti and iced tea with a dainty mint sprig by a gorgeous tuxedoed butler at the door. I was feeling quite cool (which is ALWAYS foreshadowing. Someday I will learn...).

So we met Oprah. She was nice.

And then I was feeling REALLY, REALLY cool.

So I'm strutting around the store, thinking I'm all fabulous, sipping my iced tea with mint, already bragging in my head to my friends about how cool I am, when I found myself in the men's department: a rectangular room that dead ended in the back.

And out of nowhere, Valentino himself just *POOF* appears. I didn't see him come through a door, he was just there, coming toward me. Just he and I (him and I?).

He walked closer and looked me directly in the eye. He's about my height, as tan in person as on film.

I lowered my glass and prepared to speak, knowing that since I was now incredibly cool, something just uber-fabulous was destined to fall from my lips. It would be brilliantly witty. He would find me charming. Yacht invitations would invariably ensue.

And then, just as he got close up and we were face to face, his expression changed to one of utter contempt. He looked away and moved on in disgust.

And then I felt the mint sprig, which, to that point, had happily rested atop my glass of tea, but apparently decided to take up a new place of residence.

Under my top lip, wrapped around it, with the very tip inserted into my nose.

Cool no more. The end.

Happy belated birthday and anniversary, Mr. Garavani.

*OP's P.R. people: I salute you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Biggest Thunderstorm in the Universe

Right now, my dog is probably looking down from her 500 acre grassy meadow in the sky, not panting, drooling or pooping in a corner, and completely digging it, I'm sure.

Photo: Shuba hiding in basement during storm, 2004.

Total Job Perk

I think my favorite part is the cover, which is leopard print with her name in gold. Can't wait.

Read a great bio on La Dona by The Liquid Muse (whose family actually has a pretty amazing art-related connection to the acclaimed actress!) here.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I Am SO Not Fabulous

Within 30 seconds of each other, I just received two emails:

To: BabsieD
From: My Sister
Subject: We are in Capri

Just got off our private plane. Mykonos was nice but this, this is to DIE. We are at the Hotel Tiberio Palace in a beautiful room with a big balcony overlooking the water and all of Capri.

I think this where we have to come* - the fauna is spectacular. We walked through the square (you take a hydrofoil from Naples to Capri) and from the port you take an open air cab to the square and then you walk through the square filled with shops and up this cobblestone hill with more shops. It's like a movie set and the people are so gorgeous. It's really special!!!

To: BabsieD
From: Bride
Subject: My wedding

I won't quote the whole thing, but the words "Kevin Costner's band arrives at 4," an explanation of her fam's estate location, and the fact that the reception is being held at ruins were all mentioned.

And me: I'm here working, interspersed with a quick round of "Let's Do The DUMBEST Thing Ever": in the process of arranging my new kitchen(!), I have a pile of MacKenzie-Childs cabinet knobs that I won't be using (in fact, much to my husband's chagrin as I've spent a small pile on this collection, I'm kind of sick to death of all of it). Anyway, much like when you literally watch yourself shut your hand in your car door, I just thought I'd try to fill the paper thin kazillion-dollar** McK-C handpainted vase with said knobs. Heavy, ceramic knobs. I gingerly placed one inside, it rolled for a second, and shattered the vase--the one piece I still really liked--into a million shards. So effing dumb. The end.

**Yet bought at the Church Mouse in Palm Beach, the greatest thrift store ever, for a mere $28, tags still on. Just makes it all the more painful.


Someone once told me* that when you walk into Aerin Lauder's apartment, there's a big crystal bowl filled with monogrammed matchboxes, an idea that I just love (and will someday totally plagarize).

Anyway, enter Meredith Waga Perez at Belle Fleur New York, florist to Salma Hayek, Uma Thurman et. al (and featured in Vogue, W and InStyle just about every time I pick up a copy, it seems).

It was a natural progression for them (the company is run by her and her mom) to take their floral knowhow and aesthetic expertise and apply it to candles, and, as you can see from the above, they nailed it.

The gorgeous scents, which seem strong when you first open the box, actually linger without overpowering. The packaging is beyond exquisite. And the matches that come with each: needless to say, I think it's a completely genius touch. All around, the perfect hostess gift.

If you're lucky enough, you may even get a note from Meredith in her PERFECT penmanship on their signature Cartier stationery; their brochure comes packaged in faux croc-lined envelopes (that I think are from Allie Munroe...).

It looks like the candles will be featured at Apres Peau soon (and there may even eventually be a little, ahem, personal appearance around it by the fabulous Ms. Perez herself), and in the meantime, they can be ordered online here.

*or maybe I just read it, I can't remember.

UPDATE: They just arrived at Apres Peau. One smelled fantastic. But ten--now that smells INCREDIBLE.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ladies Who Lunch

Had a lunch today with the head of the Bethesda/Silver Spring Stroller Strides, ostensibly about some of my clients, but she was way cool so it evolved into a multi-subject discussion ranging from where to get a great Mojito (she's a fan of Ceviche) to decorating our little houses to hosting lunches (including the one I'll be throwing in the hopefully not-too-distant future). Which got me thinking about my favorite part of hosting my girls over for lunch or dinner: party favors!

Here are some of my faves:
• Homemade fortune cookies in box (Chinese carry-out boxes, $.89, Container Store, see Fortune Cookie Recipe here--wow, posted a year ago yesterday!)
• R. Nichols Singles Notecards ($3 each, r-nichols.com)
• Garden Sprinkler Seed Tins ($3.25 each, pottingshedcreations.com)
• 2-piece Beach-themed Chocolate Favors ($4 set of two, delochoc.com)
• Marimekko kitchen magnets ($5.90 each, Marimekkodc.com) (tip: use a separate magnet on the back to make these placecard holders)
• Tortoise shell toothbrushes (good if you’re serving garlic for dinner!) ($4.99, edentalstuff.com)
• DC Chocolate Tour Candy Bars ($25 for 4 bars, Apres Peau, DC—as soon as they come back in stock!*)
• Kiehl’s Lip Balms ($7 each, Blue Mercury, Georgetown)
• Hydrangeas/whatever is in your backyard in silver cups (head over to Home Goods or a few estate sales and do a little mix & matching—looks fabulous, starts at around $3 each)
• Paperback chick-lit books (all different so everyone can trade at the table).

Any other great ideas I can swipe?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Proof: In the Pudding?

...that, my friends, was the question over dessert at last night's preview dinner at Proof. My fabulous tablemate (Happy Birthday!) didn't think so: she wanted it to be more pudding-y. I just wanted a bit more ice cream with it. And that little convo about our bread pudding was the biggest complaint we could muster at our fabulous dinner.

Proof, which is a slice of New York across from the Portrait Gallery, has poached lots of talent from around town (from Asia Nora, Teatro Goldini and fantastic sommelier Sebastian Zutant from Rasika, to name a few). And running it all is detail-obsessed* owner Mark Kuller. Ask him about the little bronze-ringed candles at the table, the color of the menus, the grommets on the chairs, the deli slicer from the 1940's, the light bulbs--yes, the man has fretted over Every. Last. Detail.

After sending over two great bottles of wine (whose names I can't recall because, well, he sent over two bottles of wine. Oh, and topped it off with a bottle of exceptional champagne), we enjoyed selections from each of the courses:

Charcuterie: Proscuitto di Parma (exceptional) and Speck Wrapped Burrata (so eloquently described by me as "Adult Bubbalicious"--although now that I think of it, it's actually Freshen Up that had the surprise sweet center. Anyway, phenomenal).

First: Braised Meatballs and Blue Prawns (both yum).

Second: Wild King Salmon (not the most exciting choice, but solid).

Dessert: Incredible chocolate pie of some type and the aforementioned bread pudding (and French Press Decaf--yay!!!)

Final because we weren't quite stuffed enough: Cheese sampler plate (frigging incredible).

Then the tour: from the bathroom decor (laboriously chosen, see Detail, Obsession With above)--hot chick mural in the M, silver and fuschia garter patterned wallpaper in the W, the spotless spotless kitchen (new kitchens are always so fun!), the tiny tiny cramped office (two people were shoved in there when we saw it), the incredible-smelling wine storage room, the metal curtain that rolls out to create a private room for 12--this is a great new addition to the DC restaurant scene.

It officially opens for business on the 5th, so make your reservations now.

No cinnamon muffins, but he said he'd think about it.

Understatement of the century. Seriously.

Monday, July 02, 2007

BabsieD: Making Friends Famous Since 2006-ish

My first E!Online score, and for one of my favoritist bloggers--and people--on the planet!