Washington Not Living Up to Its Stylish Potential at Local Oscar Gala

Washington’s Hard Rock Cafe played host to the third-annual Oscar Night DC, a benefit for Red Cross of the National Capital Area and DC’s only official Oscar event on Sunday evening.

Despite some boldface names among them—Channel 7 entertainment reporter Arch Campbell, mistress of ceremonies Pamela Brown, and presenting sponsor and MicroStrategy CEO Michael J. Saylor—few guests got into the true Oscar spirit.

Perhaps it was the venue—the unlikely rock-and-roll themed (and decidedly more Grammy-party-appropriate) Hard Rock Cafe—or the fact that it was a blustery Sunday evening, but only around 60 percent of the women wore gowns, and several men looked underdressed in suits.

However, the Red Cross did pull out the stops for the event’s 400 guests, providing valet service and Red Cross volunteers serving as “paparazzi” on the miniature red carpet, capturing poses as people entered the restaurant. An extensive silent auction offered spa services, restaurant meals, and hotel stays, plus a live auction for a Gibson guitar signed by O.A.R.

The majority of women who wore long gowns opted for standard black, eschewing any sparkly adornment. The few who boldly chose color—including event cohost Pamela Sorensen, in a stunning purple custom gown by local designer Derrick Coleman—stood out in a positive way. One beautiful mom-to-be even wore a bold floral pattern that accentuated her shape and truly made her glow; it didn’t hurt that she bore a resemblance to Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto, either.

What we did love? The oversize earrings on Chris Jacobs, co-owner of DC Girls in the Know, and Natalie Cartner’s faux jewels from none other than Lord & Taylor.

Of the women who chose to wear short frocks, those who paired a bold color with statement accessories made the most of their looks. Many opted for red, the color of the event’s beneficiary, while several shimmered in off-white with floral appliqué or detailing. Alina Zhukovskaya, vice president of marketing and communications at event sponsor Windows Catering, looked fresh in a one-shoulder lilac gown adorned with an oversize floral print.

Perhaps the lack of true formalwear was a positive, as tuxedo-clad gentleman and gown-bedecked women noshed on a casual but hearty buffet of rock-’n’-roll fare, including chili-cheese hot dogs on the ground level and spinach dip, fried ravioli, and miniature crab cakes on the VIP floor.

Both levels enjoyed complimentary tequila tastings courtesy of Casa Nobles tequila, including shooters and pomegranate-cranberry margaritas. On the VIP level, guests also enjoyed free-flowing Moët and Chandon Champagne, the official drink of the 2009 Oscars. A small VIP area was also reserved for Saylor’s personal guests—but this reporter couldn’t find anything special about it other than a velvet rope.

Guests chatted and mingled, watching the Oscar red carpet and ceremonies as well as participating in the chance to guess the winners from Oscar ballots scattered throughout the venue

Shortly before midnight, most attendees were headed to taxis or their cars. Unfortunately, these DC celebrities didn’t have a Governor’s Ball or Elton John postgala to attend . . . just work the next morning.

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