When the President and First Lady went to Washington, D.C.’s Blue Duck Tavern a couple of weekends ago, they made the place impossible to book for months to come. A restaurant with an airtight reservations book? Sounds New York-ish. Sounds like a city with heat—or at least one that’s not afraid to show it. In the words of one D.C. socialite who showed up last week to fête the new W Hotel in the nation’s capital, the Tastemakers-in-Chief (and certain Middle Eastern ambassadors’ wives) have “made it OK to wear Manolos.” The hotel chain itself is tapping into the fresh energy of young Obama aides and youngish powerbrokers with a $100 million revamp of the old Washington Hotel, which occupies a prime plot of real estate a few blocks from the White House. The look of it is a hybrid of the Beaux Arts building and the W’s slick modern sensibility. Think LED strips on original crystal chandeliers. The opening party’s headliner was John Legend, performing for a crowd that included the President’s personal aide, Reggie Love, and his personal secretary, Katie Johnson. Is it really that silly to imagine one of them passing party intel directly to the Commander-in-Chief?
In D.C. this weekend, the Mall and Balls didn’t have a complete monopoly on the action. Shutterbug Elizabeth Lippman snapped young Washington at hot spots like the Black Cat, Saint Ex, and L2 looking not unlike, well, wannabe Williamsburg hipsters, with an Upper East Sider or two in the mix. “It seemed every girl in town dragged out her nanna’s old fur to wear as their fancy-dress favorite, with varying degrees of success,” she said. Hey, if they kept themselves warm in the frigid conditions, that’s success enough. When it comes to Beltway fashion, after all, it’s all about the Obamas.
When you’ve tousled the tresses of everyone from Demi Moore to Angelina Jolie, it’s hard to get starstruck. But when we talked to celebrity stylist Ted Gibson over the weekend, he was positively giddy over his next appointment: prepping Caroline Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy for a Vanity Fair shoot. “Is that not political royalty or what?” he said. Gibson has been boning up on his public figures to prepare for the opening of his new D.C. salon in conjunction with the tony Hela Spa. In celebration, his New York-based team has packed up its scissors and headed down to style out-of-town clients, taking a break from awards season to hit the big inaugural parties in D.C. “Doing inaugural hair is about striking the balance between conservatism and Hollywood,” Gibson explained. He describes his plan for Anne Hathaway’s look at the swearing in as “a little bit lady, somewhat serious, but still young and sexy. Think a deep side part, sideswept bangs, maybe a chignon in the back.” There’s no word on whether he’ll be able to lure the first lady to his chair (unlikely, as $950 haircuts may be deemed unseemly in tough economic times), but Gibson looks forward to being a part of this new phase in the nation’s capital. “I think women in D.C. could be challenged a bit,” Gibson says. “You won’t see a woman walking out of here with pink hair, but I think you will see women that have embraced the idea of change,” Gibson says. On message already, Gibson will fare just fine in this town.