Washingtonians’ high fashion sensibilities may not be readily apparent, but they run deep.
Stefanie Ball and Nichole Devolites
Washington is known for power, politics, history and culture. To those attuned to the rapid pace of the nation’s capital, we’re adding one more to the list: style. Outsiders don’t realize that the city’s fashion roots do run deep. From prestigious art schools and well-known designers calling the District their home to the numerous well-dressed political, business and entertainment figures who live here, there is an aesthetic sensibility that reveals itself far beyond White House state dinners and Georgetown parties. It can be seen in the streets, worn by the people who make things work. During the day, Washington is all about power suits, nondescript shoes and sensible handbags. Those lacking a trained eye don’t realize that the suit is bespoke, the shoes crafted by high-end designers and the handbag priced at $5,000. When the lights go down, an amazing fashion transformation occurs. Individuality and luxury style take center stage. A sea of navy and black transforms into glittering, floor-length gowns, Italian silk dinner jackets and gems that could light up the darkest night sky. At hundreds of balls and galas each year you’ll hear the names “Oscar de la Renta,” “Marchesa,” “Valentino” and “Chanel” murmured by the glamorous
women and men replying to the inevitable (if ungramattical) question, “Who are you wearing?” It’s no wonder then that for decades, designers, artists and other talents have come to Washington to train and study at prestigious art schools such as the Corcoran College of Art and Design (notable for Tim Gunn – also a former District resident). Fashionable residents have helped create an underground hub for emerging global designers, photographers and stylists. For others, including Michael Kors, Paul Sinclair and Christian Soriano, Washington is a second home. Just in the past year, visits by Betsey Johnson, Anne Fontaine, Nicole Miller, David Yurman, Rachel Roy, Oscar de la Renta, Carmen Marc Valvo, Tina Knowles (among others) confirm that local residents not only understand style but are willing to pay for it. And so, in the following pages, we celebrate Washingtonians who – despite what outsiders may say – wear it so well, even if their intent is classified.