Fittingly – being that the Corcoran is an art gallery and college after all – there was a creative theme. This year it was culled from the sea-inspired paintings and sketches of American painter John Singer Sargent (1856–1925). The exhibition Sargent and the Sea is on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art until January 3, 2010. There were some playful nautical style interpretations –notably Café Bonaparte & Napoleon Bistro owner/manager Omar Popal, who looked like a chic deck hand – but mostly, the crowd stuck closely to the black-tie optional attire. Washington is not known for its creative theme dressing (National dress doesn’t not apply). Not surprisingly, the women out-styled the men (except for the ever fashionable Eric Brewer of Dissident Display Gallery). There was a sea of colorful cocktail and evening dresses.
Cruising is never easy. There were some bumpy waves at the beginning of the evening. The event was a bit over-sold. Close to 900 attendees filled the atrium and upstairs “Captains” section. Six to seven hundred might have been a better number. Lines were long as guests arrived and headed for their first cocktails. There was no relief even in the $200-a-ticket Captains room. But the tide gently subsided as the dance floor filled, and it became easier to float in and out of the open bar as the night progressed. Vodka came courtesy of Swedish spirits brand Svedka. Have you tried it yet? Its sweet taste is a nice change. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing (and tasting) more of it at galas in Spring 2010.
Named for the founding year of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the 1869 Society is the gallery’s younger social club. It’s geared towards engaging art lovers and comes with free admission to the gallery and monthly happy hours and events. Although the gallery is in the heart of Washington near the White House, the 1869 Society draws a diverse crowd from the District, Virginia and Maryland. The result is a refreshing mix that steers clear of “the same faces” scene that some Washington-only focused events can have. The downfall is that the event is not as exclusive as one would expect at such a prestigious institution. It’s not exactly B&T, but it’s close. Still, it’s no easy task trying to get a ticket to Fall Fête – they were completely sold out two days before the event. There is a reason why – the event is young, fun, sexy, and stylish.
This is a big fashion night in Washington and the YGL relish in showcasing their style. Fashion stand-outs included Kristen Guiter, Barbara Merola, Taryn Fielder, WL’s own Managing Editor Karin Tanabe (who rocked a pair of five-inch Giuseppe Zanottis, recently featured by Vogue), Amy Cenicola (in Dolce & Gabbana) Betsy-Lowther (in Yohji Yamamoto), Matt Donohue (in his trademark velvet slippers), Chris Boutlier (in head-to-toe Dior), Leila Ezzarqui, Natalie Cartner, Lesley Benn, and Elizabeth Aranade.
The heart of the party was in the atrium where DJ Neekola helped the crowd find their evening sea legs. The galleries remained open late, allowing guests to peruse the Sargent and the Sea exhibit. There was even an “inspiration gallery” where guests could sketch a room filled with nautical knick knacks.
As mentioned, the upper ‘deck’ of the Corcoran and two separate downstairs VIP areas were roped off for the “Captains” – as was the after party held at Donovan House’s ultra sexy Zentan restaurant (their sushi is delicious … thus, adhering to the prescribed nautical theme). Captains also received gift bags with items from Café Bonaparte & Napoleon Bistro, Co Co. Sala, Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas, GreatSeats.com, The Grooming Lounge, Hudson Restaurant and Lounge, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and many more (and a copy of Washington Life magazine of course!)
So, did the Corcoran’s 1869 Society Fall Fete sink or swim? We say it went swimmingly. But we’d like to see a few more Washington style sailors conquering brave new fashion worlds next year. Bon Voyage!
To see all of the photos from this event, Click Here!