THE BLOG

The City With the Least Chic Reputation?

04/26/2013 07:18 am ET | Updated Jun 26, 2013
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I fell in love with Washington, D.C. when I moved here for business school, so much so that I decided to base my beauty brand, Alchimie Forever, in the heart of Georgetown. To this day, people ask me why I made that decision. Their underlying question is always, "How can a beauty brand be based in D.C., a city known for its lack of fashion and style?"

I am constantly defending my city. We are not all about conservative unfashionable suits and black clunky shoes. Our residents have taste, are well educated, well traveled, and cosmopolitan. Our city has money: even in this economy and even with sequestration, the government creates a little bubble around D.C. that isolates it from the worst economic woes.

True, our aesthetic is overall understated -- we can't be flashy or gaudy, mostly because of the government thing -- but that makes our style and culture more refined. Over the past ten years that I have lived here, I have felt a renewed sense of art, fashion, and lifestyle.

Washington, D.C. offers the whole package. We are a true world capital, with style, culture, and a great culinary scene. You certainly know of the impact that Michelle Obama has had on the style culture in D.C., but here are 9 other reasons why Washington, D.C. is not as unfashionable as you might think!

1. The culinary and restaurant scene is thriving. Arguably one of the best chefs in the country, Jose Andres, is based here in D.C. Think Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel, and more. If he doesn't do it for you, how about Fabio Trabocchi, James Beard award-winner, who left D.C. for arch rival New York City but came back to D.C.... and is opening Casaluca and Fiola Mare after the amazing success of Fiola.

2. The ultra-luxury Capella Hotel Group chose Georgetown to open its first property in the United States just last month. With the Grill Room, The Rye Bar, and the Rooftop Bar, this is a destination not only for overnight travelers, but for D.C. residents as well.

3. Washington, D.C. is the birthplace of André Leon Talley, former editor-at-large of Vogue magazine. "André doesn't have fashion. André himself is fashion,"- Manolo Blahnik

4. Sadie Lincoln, barre3 founder, opened her first barre3 location on the East Coast right here in Georgetown. Rag and Bone also chose D.C. as their first store location outside of New York. Apparently, D.C. residents are open to new workout trends and do like fashion...

5. We have our own crop of D.C.-born and bred designers, including Hugh & Crye, launched in 2009. This brand has become so popular, the founders are even featured in American Express ads.

6. Men's fashion in general is actually booming in D.C., as shown by the recent opening of SuitSupply, or made to measure custom work by Alton Lane or Michael Andrews Bespoke. And, J. Crew is opening a men's only store in Tysons (the only one in this region).

7. Designers are traveling to D.C. in person to showcase their latest collections, most recently Jason Wu and Diane Von Furstenberg.

8. For the first time, we have D.C.-based commentators such as Lauren Rothman (a fellow HuffPost Blogger) talking about DC style and fashion on national television, including on E! Tonight and CNN.

9. Style also involves culture, and culture is hard to beat here in D.C. region. The city boasts 85 theaters, 100-plus art galleries and museums and 17 Smithsonian Institution museums.

Thank you to some of my most stylish BFFs for help brainstorming this article, including Aba Kwawu, Kate Michael, Zena Polin, and Lauren Rothman.