Night Out with Robin & Andre

Monday, April 13, 2015



I attended the book party and signing for Robin Givhan’s The Battle of Versailles at the residence of French Ambassador Gerard Araud. Robin and Vogue Contributing Editor Andre Leon Talley (in a sweeping custom cape, natch) enjoyed witty, collegial banter about fashion history for the benefit of the crowd. Talley in particular was a steady stream of Tweetable one-liners–starting with interjecting “since the Civil War!” while being introduced as a longtime editor to the magazine.

Robin: “Women [the international jet-set; royalty] were showing up in their full-length gowns and tiaras and diamonds that they owned.”

Talley: “Grace Kelly in suites of diamonds. SUITES OF DIAMONDS.”

I’m nearly halfway through the book, and it’s a fascinating read for anyone interested in American fashion, especially those of us young enough to not be personally familiar with a time when ready-to-wear didn’t exist and copies of clothing were encouraged by design houses, not discouraged.





I’d be remiss if I didn’t add here that the Ambassador’s residence in Kalorama is stunning. From the gated entrance that opens to a half-moon driveway to the elegant mix of period paintings and decor with contemporary art and modern textiles, seeing it was a truly a special and only-in-Washington experience.


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11 Spring Things

Friday, March 20, 2015


{Models in Oscar de la Renta at the 1973 show at Versailles. Photo: Daniel Simon/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images}

Robin Givhan’s book, The Battle of Versailles: The Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion critic, who has returned to the Post, has just (two days ago just) published her first book. The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History reveals the story behind the pivotal fashion show at Versailles in 1973 that shook up the French establishment and put American couture on the map in a big, bold way (listen to Givhan talk about it on NPR). There are some interesting parallels between what was happening then and what designers are aiming for now in fashion. More on that next week.

Lilly Pulitzer for Target: The collection of more than 250 home/clothing/accessories/cosmetics pieces, inspired by the late designer’s archival patterns, launches online and in stores April 19. Pom-poms on everything this summer, please!

The KGB File. Former Washingtonian Fashion Editor Kate Bennett’s new gossip column at POLITICO is set to launch April 6–in time for the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner and weekend on the 26th. Some background here.


{Instagrammer and #colorindex hashtagger Monling Lee. Photos: Emma McAlary and Bryan Derballa}


{Elaine de Kooning Self-Portrait, 1946. Image: Elaine de Kooning Trust/National Portrait Gallery}

J. Crew hearts Monling Lee. J. Crew found D.C.’s colorblocking whizkid Monling Lee and featured her on its blog in new Spring accessories.

Art Shows for Aesthetes. Top on my list are Elaine de Kooning: Portraits at NPG and Unraveling Identity: Our Textiles, Our Stories, the first show at the newly reformed Textile Museum, now part of GW, and its biggest show yet. I’ll also be hitting the Bjork show at MoMA hard when I’m in NYC next month.

Injection of retail in Shaw. Developer JBG dropped a fat stack of retail news this week, announcing that Warby Parker, Kit and Ace, Read Wall, Steven Alan, Benrus and Aesop will all land at its forthcoming properties The Shay and Atlantic Plumbing.

Georgetown French Market. Apparently people who know what’s up get there early on Friday morning, but retailers also put out plenty of new goodies throughout the day and on Saturday, too. Make it a twofer that weekend and hit the Georgetown House Tour. I’ve done it and it’s definitely a do.

Tossed & Found sale. The women of the Junior League, who put on this huge yard sale-style fundraiser, know how to shop for great stuff and then not want it anymore. Maybe you’ll find a practically-new “Lilly.” It’s Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Crystal City Shops.

A good read. Freelance writer and novelist Cathy Alter’s My Mother, My Mirror essay for Washingtonian Mom is an honest and vivid narrative in the stye of Nora Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore. And it will make you want to call your mom.


{Photo: courtesy Lolly’s Locks}

Spring Fashion Inspiration for a Cause. If you’re like me, you’re sick of the sight of your winter clothes and you’re planning your ideal spring look. Why not get some fresh fashion ideas and support a local nonprofit at the same time? Lolly’s Locks’ Night of Fashion is Thursday, March 26 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and includes a fashion show by Bloomingdale’s showcasing spring trends. Lolly’s Locks connects cancer patients with high-quality wigs.

A local boutique Reboots. Urban Chic in Georgetown surprised me on a recent visit with its selection of edgy-but-luxe pieces and some choice sporty items amidst its roster of colorful, feminine mainstays. The boutique is introducing its refreshed vision at a spring open house on Thursday, March 26 at 5 p.m. Guests will enjoy refreshments, gifts with purchase, and lots of opportunities for raffles, including the chance to win a Rebecca Minkoff handbag.

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Dispatch from the Weekend

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Giddy with spring fever on Saturday and looking for some affordable wardrobe freshness, I made a trip to Inga’s Once is Not Enough in The Palisades. Returned home with a pair of never-worn Falke tights ($8) and these two funny snaps (priceless).



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A Brief Hello

Monday, February 23, 2015

Rachel Cap File Spring 2015

Well, it’s been a while! I’m resurfacing to share a few things.

The Spring 2015 issue of Capitol File magazine is (just) out and features a roundtable discussion of “style setter” locals including yours truly. We talk “D.C. style” and how Washington has changed (or hasn’t). Robin Givhan was there and that was worth the thing, full stop.

In other news:

Fashion editor Kate Bennett has left Washingtonian for POLITICO, where she’ll author her own gossip column, “The KGB File” (more about it here on Poynter) In a personal email, she wrote that it “will cover all things Washington: insight, politics, happenings, fashion, parties, who’s who, entertainment, tech, power circles, openings/closings, real estate, business, the White House and more …perhaps the most exciting part is that everything is on the table.” Word has it that a certain former scribe at Washingtonian has been invited back to pick up where Kate left off….*

Blog All Things Fashion DC, on hiatus, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to create The Fashion Source, a “comprehensive print book & digital resource guide spanning 3 states, 30 neighborhoods, 35 features, & 1k+ fashion businesses.”

Meanwhile, Local line Hugh & Crye now has a podcast called The Protagonist.

The NYT hints that powerhouse styling agency The Wall Group may soon open a D.C. outpost.

Mark your calendars & buy your tickets: The District Sample Sale is March 3.

UPDATE March 20: Didn’t mean to leave anyone hanging. The new Fashion Editor at Washingtonian is Sarah Zlotnick. She had previously left Washingtonian for Wedding Wire.

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