In Washington, D.C., this weekend is the annual "Nerd Prom" also known as the White House Correspondents Dinner. For outsiders, the best comparison would be the Oscars of the journalism world. The media events begin Friday with a variety of industry sponsored parties such as Vanity Fair, People magazine and several embassies. Saturday is reserved for power lunches; the actual dinner and a multitude of after parties. Sunday, other than being a recovery period, is also host to a few elitist brunches.
D.C. has never been known as a fashionable destination but over the past few years there are a few standout fashionistas as well as celebrities making the circuit. In my opinion, Ozzy Osbourne attending a Bush dinner was the start of a competitive streak amongst publications to have an "it" character at their table. In recent years the likes of Eva Longoria, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Chase Crawford, Bradley Cooper and others have made the weekend a public statement of not just being a fluffy Hollywood celebrity but also a thinking, politically minded citizen. This opportunity to mingle with politicians, lobbyists and the press garners a great amount of attention to their causes with very little coverage of the fashion. There is still a prevalent stigma that being fashionable cannot overshadow one's brain power. It's as if some of the players intentionally keep from perfecting their look as not to seem vain.
If you look at the local shopping landscape, there are very few fashion forward options. Saks Jandel, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus have all the big designer names but the perception of being a bit antiquated. There are some standout newcomers such as Muléh and Julia Farr that are filling the void left by the big retailers with their focused buys and personal customer service. Most of the high-profile clients split their time between D.C. and New York City therefore creating a fashion scene in which they dress for New York and leave D.C. to be fashion downtime. There are a few notable fashion leaders but in D.C. it tends to be who you know -- not who you are wearing.
I predict this year's "Nerd Prom" Kings and Queens will push the standard to a whole new level. The First Lady has proven herself to be a leader in fashion and in D.C., the White House tends to set the tone for the fashion landscape. I'm hoping that Michelle Obama's influence will lead to a more glamorous affair for all the red carpet watchers as well as boosting designer sales. What the design community could use right now is to be supported by our political and media leaders. Keep an eye on Twitter (#nerdprom) and let's see who brings it this weekend... I'm excited to see what designers, celebrities and politicos are willing to take some fashion risks.
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