Georgetown Insider: The Best of Europe, Right Here


Bruce and Sharon Bradley (File photo)

Bruce and (Photo by Ben Droz)

As the French say, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Dazzling changes and improvements have come to the Georgetown neighborhood, yet the soul of the charming, historic enclave is impervious to change.

This was apparent after I received a call from real estate agent extraordinaire of Washington Fine Properties. “Your old house from 22 years ago is on the market again … Stop by!” I was greeted by Nancy and her client , the dashing White House correspondent for Paris-based Canal+. “J’adore Georgetown,” he declared. “It has the best of America in a European way. People really take care of their homes and the gardens are magnifique.”

Another house that had not changed hands in four decades is the N Street residence of Beverly and . New buyers Nancy and were welcomed by neighbors at a drinks party given by Nancy Taylor Bubes. Among the guests were mayoral candidate Councilman , Fran and , John and Kristen Cecchi and Samar and . completed the stunning renovation for the Dubers.

On to decorate! Georgetown is known for an array of antiques and home furnishing shops, so it was a delight to chat with one of the more colorful longtime residents of Georgetown. In his trademark tangerine corduroys (“I made orange chic!”) ’s cozy shop on P Street is a place to see and be seen.

From hairdresser to the stars, including Bianca Jagger and Donna Karan, to antiquaire to the stars (Did I hear Oprah?) Jean-Pierre is passionate about bringing les arts decoratifs to Georgetown. Within minutes I left with a Louis XVI bench and a Florentine gilt box. The best of Europe in America, to be sure.

Frank Babb Randolph (Photo by Kyle Samperton)

(Photo by Kyle Samperton)

If there were a de facto Mayor of Georgetown it would certainly be the internationally acclaimed designer Frank Babb Randolph. With his distinguished movie-star looks and sartorial savvy, Frank lives in ’s former home and epitomizes the timeless elegance and classicism that make Georgetown desirable. I spoke with Frank while he was in Palm Beach. “It is great to be in 82-degree weather, but I miss Georgetown. You can walk everywhere.” As co-chair of the Georgetown House Tour (the oldest house tour in America) for the past two years, Frank’s passion for “the village” is inspirational.

Georgetown’s enduring tradition of supporting local artists was in full swing at the Citizen’s Association of Georgetown annual art show at the House of Sweden. “There is much more of a buzz this year than last,” observed debonair artist and companion . Hundreds of guests clamored to view the wonderful images in all manner of genres. Among the artists were , , Diana Laurie, , and .

Helen duBois, Clara Bingham and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (File photo)

Helen duBois, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (File photo)

Upon departing I spoke with Georgetown resident who looked stunning in a cerulean blue jacket and black cigarette pants. Pam had spent the holidays in Costa Rica with husband Mike, sons Payson and and their darling grandchildren. (There, they spotted the newly engaged Clara Bingham). Yet it was back to business as I learned from a chat with Mike later that evening. After 17 years devoted to education (FOCUS), Mike’s new mission is campaign finance reform. We wish him success!

Breezing down the street from an art gallery opening to a new boutique hotel that is quite simply a work of art, Capella is Georgetown’s new masterpiece. “We don’t do names,” said the cosmopolitan General Manager , with a gleam in his eye. Privacy and discretion are what attract a local and international clientele to this exquisite property, opened by longtime Georgetowners Bruce and Sharon Bradley. “Georgetown feels like Europe and we want to offer our patrons an experience that is nonpareil,” Obertop effused. Winston Churchill once revealed (maybe more than once) that he “cannot live without Champagne.” The old British bulldog would have loved Capella; it has the best bubbly in town.

Franco Nuschese (Photo by Tony Powell)

(Photo by Tony Powell)

A Washington institution that credits its longevity to being able to change is Cafe Milano. “How do you stay young!” asked Franco Nuschese, Milano’s inimitable owner. “La Prarie?” I answered in a bemused manner. Milano’s maestro wasn’t talking about me, yet the question was a perfect metaphor for the secret of Cafe Milano’s astonishing success. “Energy…We have energy. It has everything about what I love about Georgetown. I opened 22 years ago in November and we are still here!”

La plus ça change.

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