Washington DC's biggest fashion draw other than an inauguration just happened, and the fashion crowd jumped on it. It has been hashtagged "nerd prom" and gained momentum for branding of what was once a media gathering into a celebrity and fashion focus. The Acela from New York to DC was a cattle car of garment bag toting PR reps as personalities and brands started pushing their way into this celebration of the intelligentsia. The mad rush to be a part of the weekend seemed to contradict the origins but what is now being toted as the "Oscar's of the East Coast" is more or less press for the press. From a fashion perspective there seemed to be three distinct categories: Hollywood being responsible, political players that have style and the DC hometown crowd.
Hollywood being responsible are the personalities who are showing an awareness to the power of DC. This weekend is a chance to get shown around like a bit of a trophy but at the same time raise awareness for causes close to their heart. They tend to be dressed in their own clothes or if they are being gifted by a brand then the choices are conservative. Unlike Los Angeles, DC tends to shun the overproduced facial features of Hollywood or a Real Housewife. To witness an aging starlet try to convince political and publishing titans of her agenda through a pair of lips that resemble a piece of bologna curling in a frying pan is a bit like watching a mime in an invisible box. DC is the place to talk about political and social platforms, and it is a bit distracting to see a subsection of this group teetering around in their Louboutin platforms. I was recently made an honorary woman by some friends and in that group there is no bashing other women so I want to make an effort to celebrate the women who do it right in DC. There are some Hollywood attendees that balance the glamour while staying respectful of the proceedings such as Rosario Dawson, Frieda Pinto, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Kerry Washington. These women are absolutely stunning and breathtaking in person while being approachable.
Political players that have style are a tight clique in DC. This is the mean girls club, and you got to give it to them: They own this town. I am mostly writing about women here, but this is one area where you can include gay men. They are educated, they have some sort of family heritage tied to the city and they never shop in DC. It is really strange because you want to think that behind the Ice Queen is an insecure person holding up a façade of toughness, but most times she really is that mean. I personally get a kick out of this crowd because without them DC would be like an ocean without sharks. Somebody has to be the queen of the fashion food chain. Because I love this group of OCD women\gay men so much there will be no naming names here, but that does not matter because they know who they are and will still strike at me next time we meet.
The DC hometown crowd are the heart and soul of this city. They either live here or have lived here and understand understated elegance. I will admit that there are some members of this group that still live in ill-fitting shift dresses with their bra straps showing, but as I recently began to count them at a brunch I stopped and felt disgusted a little with myself. These are the women that are usually mothers on top of all the other achievements in their lengthy resume because DC and the surrounding areas are a great place to raise a family. The access to the best cultural activities and the feeling of open skies are rare for a big city so it attracts women who are extremely aware of their environment but not necessarily flashy in their personal presentation. People tend to talk to me about fashion but drop the name of a private school or charity board into this group and suddenly Lanvin means nothing. What is most admirable about this group is they tend to dress body conscious in a healthy image and do not project the feeling that they are selling out. These women have it all -- and while they are photographed to the point that fashion choices have impacts on their profile both socially and career wise -- you just get the impression they are NOT checking press outlets the next morning to see whether they made best dressed.
The fashion future of the White House Correspondent's Dinner weekend will be interesting but might have reached a tipping point. The glamorous family of Obama will be a hard act to follow for the next DC power couple and at this point honestly, we get it. There will be certain personalities and brands that find this to be a market you cannot buy your way into but you must fit the profile of the audience. DC is a market where substance outweighs flash and hopefully it will stay that way. So stay tuned for the next stop that the celebrity and fashion crowd will have their eyes on : Davos Fashion Week.