Valentine’s Day, intrigue, and rare treasures combined to create a romantic evening at Hillwood Museum, inspired by both James Bond and czars. Apart from the new exhibition in the dacha and the jewels on the display in the mansion, guests had three ways to get in the mood, and two involved vodka. At the Visitors Center, while on a screen in the background Sean Connery as Bond outsmarted many opponents in From Russia With Love, guests made their way to three bars. One served Russian wine. The other two offered vodka, either the James Bond way—a martini straight up, shaken, not stirred—or a choice of Russian standard vodkas served neat and chilled after traveling through an elaborate ice sculpture. The most popular was the premium Imperia.
The Aloha State welcomed attendees in classic Hawaiian style, offering them leis as they processed through a saber arch and onto the concourse surrounding the ballroom at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel for the Hawaii State Society Inaugural Ball.
Society president Kohono Mossman described the tenor of the evening perfectly in his welcome address: “a celebration in true Hawaiian style—with good music and good food.”
The standout among the stations of sushi, dim sum, and butler-passed trays of hors d’oeuvres were the whole roasted suckling pigs, carved in front of guests at stations in the front of the ballroom.
After an enthusiastic kickoff to the festivities by the Kamehameha Schools Warrior Marching Band, the evening continued with musical acts that included the Aloha Boys and Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom, a five-time Grammy nominee for Best Hawaiian Music Album.
Among the evening’s distinguished guests were US senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard.
Last night, the Artists & Athletes Alliance hosted a party for ServiceNation at DC Coast. It drew a smattering of notables (including former Redskins defensive back Fred Smoot, actor Omar Benson Miller of 8 Mile and CSI: Miami fame, vice presidential sons Hunter and Beau Biden, and congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard) for speeches about the importance of military service paired with a raw bar, passed snacks, and drinks.
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden opened the program as soon as he arrived by thanking brother Hunter for joining the Navy Reserves at age 41, as a public affairs officer. He went on to remind the group why he cares so much about American soldiers, particularly those returning from combat, saying: "The fallen angels return home through our home state of Delaware." He was followed by newly minted congresswoman Gabbard, a combat veteran from Hawaii who continues to serve in the Hawaii National Guard. After Gabbard's remarks, several attendees came up to thank her for her service, call her an inspiration, and ask to take her picture. The house was packed—so much so that it got hard to move around or take pictures that weren't close-ups of nearby people—but most partygoers didn't seem to mind.
Sometimes the guest list is what sets one party apart from all the others. That was certainly the case with the late-night inaugural soiree hosted Saturday at the Madison Hotel by six Washingtonians who have infinite connections and influence: Ann and Vernon Jordan, Buffy and Bill Cafritz, and Vicki and Roger Sant. The Jordans and Cafritzes hosted a similar party four years ago, and it was the first glimpse anyone in Washington got of the Obama inner circle, in particular presidential senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and then-Social Secretary Desirée Rogers.
With a second inauguration, that curiosity factor is gone. This time around, in a room where just about every guest was connected in one way or another, it was interesting to see actress Ashley Judd, who arrived with her friend Mark Ein. Attending this particular party was as much as saying that yes, she is serious about running for the Senate in Kentucky. So far she’s said she’s taking a look, but there were people at the party (not the least of them Jordan) who can help her get from a Hollywood acting career to a Washington political role.
New York, Maryland, and Delaware shared the stage Sunday night at the Fairmont Hotel, hosting an inaugural ball together for the first time. “We weren’t expecting the same crowds as four years ago,” explained Richard Schrader, director of the New York State Society. It wasn’t hard to see New York’s stake in the hotel’s downstairs rooms, where attendees could nibble on the state’s famous snacks and treats, such as Schrader’s favorite, Antoinette’s sponge chocolates. But a pair of glamorously dressed New Yorkers also got a taste of Maryland’s cream of crab soup. “Cream of what?” we overheard them asking as chefs ladled out samples.
Sunday night Washingtonian hosted an inaugural ball at the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum. More than 850 guests showed up in their formal best to enjoy cocktails, food, and dancing amid air and spacecraft. Get an early look at the festivities with some of our favorite photos tweeted throughout the evening, and check back in for lots more pictures.
Last night, The Washingtonian celebrated the July Best of Washington issue with a party at the National Building Museum. The event featured food from more than 60 of the 100 Very Best Restaurants, cocktails, and an old-fashioned candy bar. We asked guests to tweet their thoughts, photos, and favorite parts of the event with the hashtag #bestof. Here are a few of our favorites.
A family affair: Julianne Moore with her sister, Valerie Wells, and her father, Pete Smith. Photograph by Jeff Martin.
Last night’s premiere of the new HBO film Game Change was a family reunion for its star, Julianne Moore, who plays Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Moore was only in town for a few hours, but she got to visit with her father, Pete Smith, who lives in St. Michaels, Maryland, and her sister, Valerie Wells, who is a DC-based condo realtor. Smith and Wells, and Smith’s girlfriend, Debbie Kent, stood patiently and happily on the sidelines at the Newseum as Moore walked the rope line, her red hair barely visible above a scrum of media. When she was free of that it was time for family hugs and kisses.
Moore was born Julie Anne Smith, and to the family she is simply “Julie” (Moore is her father’s middle name). Smith is a retired Army colonel who, with his late wife, raised the family in a variety of locales, including Germany and Washington. He said it was in Germany, as a junior in high school, that Moore got bitten by the acting bug. “Julie was in all the school plays,” he said. “She came home one day and said to her mom, ‘I want to be an actress.’ Her mother said, ‘Don’t waste your brain.” Smith said, “We hoped she would be a lawyer or doctor, because she’s very bright, but she’s done all right for herself.”
Gala founders and co-chairs Ashley Taylor and Winston Bao Lord (left). The Mad Hatter himself, Larry O’Halloran, with Scott Jeffrey (right). Photographs by Kevin Allen.
The Jeté Society describes itself as “a group of young professionals dedicated to advancing the mission of the Washington Ballet.” It also throws one of the best dance parties of the year as part of its fundraising. This year the party was at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, in DC’s West End. The theme was “the Mad Hatter’s dance party,” in keeping with the ballet’s new production of Alice in Wonderland.
This article appears in the March 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.
Simon Doonan in his carnation throne built for a queen. Photograph by Jeff Martin.
The late Gianni Versace once told Elton John that when he died he wanted to go to heaven and not only be gay, but be “super gay.” Simon Doonan can relate. He’s made being gay into a side profession, in addition to his already successful careers as creative ambassador at large for Barneys New York and as a writer. His new book, Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, was celebrated in Washington on Wednesday evening with a très gay soiree on the rooftop of the W Hotel, featuring pink patent wing chairs, loads of pink flowers, pale pink skinny “boy” margaritas, “power gays,” drag queen Heidi Gloom—and Doonan, of course, in his trademark flowered shirt, trilling. The deejay was Shea Van Horn, who sometimes performs in drag, though not on this night; he went preppy instead.