Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine


French Cover Up
Missed events, French women who change their mind (a lot) and the art of making covers
By Michael Clements

'm blocked. I want to write witty things about events I've attended, but I can't. It all started when I read WL's social calendar and realized how many events I'd missed. How do socialites do this? It's like a full-time job going to all these parties.

Block's over: I've decided to write about all the events I missed, starting with Fight Night. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing — it's not exactly an ego boost to sit next to someone you know paid $10,000 for a seat. Plus, I still have the taste of whiskey and cigars in my mouth from last year. I also missed: a reception to meet French President, Nicolas Sarkozy at the French residence — wanted to go but lost the lottery for our one invite; the Washington Performing Arts Society's fall celebration at the Kennedy Center
— Monday nights are hard; the Meridian Ball —
Gail Scott had me covered; the Lombardi Gala
— had another event; and pretty much the entire C'est Chic! film festival, except for our sponsored opening night party at L2 (Cady's Alley NW).

Ah yes ... C'est Chic!. WL was the festival's official magazine sponsor again this year. Last year was easier. Working the sponsorship led to several revelations: my title should be executive editor/event planner; espresso and cigarettes are conducive to brainstorming; and French women, although sexy, change their minds entirely too much.

I knew I was in trouble two months before C'est Chic! while having lunch at Blue Duck Tavern (1201 24th St. NW) with festival director Lysbeth Sherman and WL Associate Publisher Anais de Viel Castel (who's French but doesn't smoke, drink expresso or change her mind too much; she's been in the U.S. too long). Sherman mentioned that she wanted to fly Karl Lagerfeld to D.C. and organize a fashion show. I thought it was an excellent idea and countered we should do it at Dupont Circle or a national monument. I now realize this was complete lunacy.

Over the next two months, in between salads and tea at Blue Duck, and espresso and cigarettes at the French embassy, the plans changed more than Hillary's stance on the Iraq war. There was also the enjoyable task of talking WL fashion stylist Lana Orloff out of a meltdown one day while she shopped with Sherman in an attempt to find her an outfit for the photoshoot we setup with her, Elizabeth Rivasseau (who, by the way, is simply lovely) and Washington filmmaking impresario Grace Guggenheim. In the end Sherman eventually chose an outfit, the women looked gorgeous, the events were wonderful, WL provided French wine, plasma televisions, coverage, lots ofVI.Ps, and L2 owner Anthony Lanier got his wish that we not run the opening night party pics so his private club could remain "mysterious." Ever the artist, Lanier asked us to run a page of black boxes instead of event photos. Interesting proposition, but, no.

I did make it to the MenzFit celebrity fashion show. They asked me to be one of their celebrity models thanks to the encouragement of new mom Aba Kwawu. I'm not a celebrity, but I've lived in L.A. where everyone thinks they are, so it came naturally. The true celebrity that night was Matthew Selby — the first man to benefit from MenzFit in Philadelphia. Rhonda Willingham started the organization to provide suits to men - be they ex-offenders, homeless, or recovering substance abusers - looking to interview and get their lives back on track. It's a great organization and I recommend it to those looking to help their fellow man this holiday season.

Another couldn't miss was the WL party at the space (903 N St. NIT). We invited all the style mavens from our November cover — a volatile mix of divas and divos, but everyone played nice. Later, we were all excited to see the issue's cover appear on NBC4. The local news station did a segment on D.C. paparazzi. I don't really think we have any here; our event photographers are not paparazzi. If anything, they get stalked by people wanting their photos taken. Not even TMZ could maintain a presence here; it's just not "Washington." We prefer private investigators.

The fact WL creates all of its own covers is a blessing and a curse. Some magazines in town get covers sent from far away corporate offices: here's a B-List celebrity and a model no one knows; congratulations, you have a cover. Others get away with using concept covers: slap some chopsticks on the magazine and presto! you have a food issue. It would be nice to have that, but having Washington-related people grace our cover makes us a Washington magazine. The downside is that we go to print in four days, and, yes, we're still debating the cover ... I'm starting to think Lanier's "black box" idea isn't so silly after all.

Readers wishing to get in touch with Michael can
email, letters@washingtonlife.com.


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