Most desired design "gets," coveted reservations, VIP vices and other not-so-humblebrags show how power really operates from the piers to the Potomac to the Pacific.
Quick, where can you get a $150,000 vape? Los Angeles. (Surprised?) What real estate move confers serious financial status in New York? Buying not one, not two, but three townhouses and "Frankenmansion-ing" them together into one mega-compound — hey, it’s what all the Russian oligarchs like Roman Abramovich, fashion scions like David Lauren and movie stars like Sarah Jessica Parker are doing! Jay Z appears on two cities’ most-wanted guests lists of 2017 (New York and Los Angeles), while Washington, D.C., hosts a secret media dinner that’s gone from a girls’-night-in to the biggest power invite in town, attracting multiple senators (but no husbands allowed). To decode the signals of influence in the three American power centers, THR takes you behind the privacy walls of the uber-privileged.
Additional reporting by Jon Alain Guzik, Gary Baum, Vincent Boucher, Alexandra Cheney, Meg Hemphill, Beth Landman and Elycia Rubin.
"Elite parents in urban areas lean toward very fashion-forward and sophisticated names," says Pamela Redmond Satran, the co-author of 10 books on the subject and co-founder of Nameberry.com, which includes a 50,000-name database. "They are attracted to quirky, not-so-easy-to-like names that are more difficult to embrace." She says elite naming resembles what happens in top fashion, when an hot and highly coveted item is suddenly spotted too frequently. As soon as a name that was once considered edgy or unusual begins to be used more widely, it’s no longer cool and gets the boot by VIPs.
An example is Penelope, which has a more classic, retro feel. Both Tina Fey and Kourtney Kardashian named their daughters Penelope, and then suddenly the name got massive exposure. "Now Penelope feels too popular, too common — and we’re not hearing much about it anymore," Satran says. She adds that that while Los Angeles takes a heavy cue from celebrity trends and its outdoorsy vibe, D.C. still tends to skew fairly traditional. "One of the big trends we’re seeing in New York is the influence of literary names," says naming blogger Abby Sandel (Apellationmountain.com), who adds that N.Y. falls somewhere between L.A. and D.C. in that the elite parents are "always an interesting mix of both trendy, fashion-forward types and bankers who skew more conservative." We asked the experts for the top emerging mini monikers.
James (for girls)
In the high-stakes culinary Thunderdome that is New York’s power-dining scene, it’s notoriously difficult to predict which promising contenders might burn hot and fizzle, and which will maintain a steady boil. But the The Grill, set to reopen next week in the legendary Four Season’s space, is as close as you’ll find to a sure thing. With its rosewood buffed, its brass polished and its decor updated, the room that saw 50 years' worth of power lunches has been re-imagined as a midcentury American chophouse by Jeff Zalaznick, Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, the trio behind Carbone and Dirty French. "It’s very much a restored version of the original," says Zalaznick. "The whole idea was to revive this place for the next 50 years, to reinvigorate it both for the people who have been coming here for years and the people who have never been before." Downtown, meanwhile, the trio’s red-sauce supernova Carbone is as hot as it’s ever been, with a cast of regulars that includes Stephen Colbert, Seth Myers, Taylor Swift, Chelsea Clinton, George and Amal Clooney, and Jay Z and Beyonce. Barack and Michelle Obama go every time they’re in town and just took Malia last month (the former president had the lamb chops). (Read the full story here).
Hollywood’s deal-making core likes to do its power dining at nexuses alternatively comfy-clubby (The Grill on the Alley, Tower Bar, Giorgio Baldi) and alfresco-friendly (Chateau Marmont, Hinoki & the Bird, The Polo Lounge). CBS chief Les Moonves prefers the former. "I like Madeo for dinner, and for lunch, it’s the Palm or Toscana," the Brentwood Italian powerhouse whose new Beverly Hills sister spot, Nerano, is also a favorite with fellow moguls Harry Sloan, Steve Tisch and power lawyer Ken Ziffren. Meanwhile Catch LA, the recent West Hollywood offspring of the NYC Meatpacking original, is so packed nightly with celebs, including Chris Brown, Sylvester Stallone and Jerry Bruckheimer, that it’s shut down its Open Table account and is only accepting reservations from insiders. Still, the undisputed power nexus remains — quell those eye rolls — Soho House. Yes, your former assistant secured a membership two years ago. Yes, there do seem to be a few too many visitors from the Toronto branch gawking at Beyonce and Amy Poehler (and possibly sitting next to Ari Emanuel and not even realizing it). Still, A-list industry folks dutifully line up at the rooftop garden salad bar and nibble on the cult-favorite chocolate chip cookies. Dining here is so popular that the club added Nava, a Middle Eastern concept, last year. And it’s not all business: New couple Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez were just spotted having lunch.
Washington, D.C., is a town steeped in tradition, which means that even with the change of administration, the power dining spots remain constant. Breakfast continues to be the most powerful meal of the day, especially at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, where Nancy Pelosi, Deepak Chopra, Jon Stewart and Ivanka Trump — as well as a Saudi prince or two — all come to work the room and dine on signature dishes like the DC Half Hash (half-smoke sausage with beef chili, crispy potatoes, poached egg & creamy cheese sauce) and the $80 weekend brunch. And while Georgetown’s elegant waterfront Italian restaurant Fiola Mare enjoyed both celebrity and presidential attention during the Obama years (it’s hosted Michelle and Barack as well as Pierce Brosnan and Larry David), nearby Cafe Milano is still the spot where political power-mongers like Rex Tillerson, Mark Warner and Colin Powell flock for pizza and house-made pastas. But say you’re a CEO visiting D.C. to have a drink with White House staff and you don’t want to be spotted? You book a Cabinet Room at the Jefferson Hotel: a small, private lounge with full access to the Jefferson’s scene-y bar but away from prying eyes.
N.Y. — Hair extensions that last for years
Devotees of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger, the Upper East Side salon frequented by Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman and Barbra Streisand, can visit stylist Temur Dzidziguri for custom-made Halo extensions (from $1,200). He "spends hours" texture- and color-matching the human-hair extensions to the client’s hair, coloring and highlighting as needed. "These are the only [extensions] on the market that don’t cause any damage," says the stylist, who applies the piece in "two minutes tops" and shows clients how to easily put them on at home. No more sitting in a chair for hours getting them put in and taken out, says Dzidziguri. "Our NYC clients are on the go and can’t be bothered with beauty regimens that take hours." Margot Robbie, Naomi Watts and Jessica Chastain are already Halo wearers. 17 E. 71st St., 5th Floor, 212-535-3519
L.A. — Healing hyperbaric chambers
Book into SLS Hotel’s serene Ciel spa for its new hyperbaric chamber — a sealed sleeping pod where the air pressure is three times the norm— to experience oxygen therapy, which increases the oxygen content in the blood, spinal fluid and tissues (starting at $250 per hour). It’s touted as a way to heal damaged tissues, especially post-surgery, and help skin look plumper and younger, especially after long flights. While it’s not a new therapy — a variation has been around for 300 years — it’s been gaining favor in recent years among the Hollywood set: Keanu Reeves is a fan, and Ian Somerhalder and wife Nikki Reed have a chamber at home. While other high-end spas, including at the Four Seasons Los Angeles and Carasoin, use hyperbarics in facial treatments, Ciel is the first luxury spa to house a full-body chamber. "Oxygen therapy continues to be on the forefront of the beauty and spa industry, and I believe it will continue to grow," says Ciel’s skincare expert, Rebecca George. "While most people sleep," she says, "you will be laying on a large bed for one to four hours, so it’s a great time to work or read." Multitaskers rejoice. 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-246-5560
D.C. — Ultimate hair de-frizz and Cold Stone Waxing
Busy VIPs, including former President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle, deal with the city’s humidity by relying on Milbon Smooth Professional Treatment at Ian McCabe Studio. The treatment ($75) comes with four vials for weekly at-home touch-ups. Meanwhile D.C. denizens are also embracing cold treatments, touted for their healing and anti-aging benefits, says Dr. Arleen Lamba, founder and medical director at Blush. The medi-spa’s latest addition uses a cold marble stone on skin, worn in the technician’s glove, to soothe and minimize inflammation ($12-$90). The method is currently used prior to Botox and injectables and, says Lamba, "we will likely add it to our face masks." Ian McCabe, 1101 23rd St. NW, D.C.; 202-888-6700. Blush, 4915 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, MD; and 1924 8th St., Suite 135, Washington D.C.; 877-MD-BLUSH.
For moguls and machers, getting dressed is a largely bespoke, by-appointment affair. East Coast power tends to be more formal than laid-back L.A., with the gold standard in hand-tailoring being Brooklyn-based Martin Greenfield Clothiers (239 Varet St.), which has made suits for presidents Eisenhower, Ford, Clinton, Obama and Trump. Says Jay Greenfield, co-owner with his brother Tod: "Someone who’s more corporate might want to walk into a room and [have his suit] grab attention," he says. "Or a more blustery personality might want to have the suit tone him down." Executive women turn to the faultlessly discreet style of The Row (17 E. 71st St.) for impeccably tailored trenchcoats, minimalist glove-leather jackets and capacious luxury totes.
"Out here, a designer cashmere sweater, polo or patterned blazer can communicate C-suite status," says Andrew Weitz, clothes-whisperer to the Tinseltown power set. Tom Ford (346 N. Rodeo Dr.) is a favorite for studio chiefs, entertainment attorneys and top agents including UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer and CAA power player Adam Berkowitz. Handmade blazers and top-line accessories draw industry execs to Neapolitan clothier Isaia (9527 Brighton Way) "Isaia’s colorful Capri vibe fits in with the landscape," says Weitz. Among L.A.’s power women, Stella McCartney (8823 Beverly Blvd.) and her well-cut Ingrid blazers, trousers and cruelty-free Fabella bags have a big following.
"It’s definitely a more conservative environment here," says Kosta Abatzis of Geoffrey Lewis Custom Tailors (1433 H St. NW). "Men wear chalk stripes and pin-stripes, they don’t want to stand out at all." Ronald Reagan enjoyed bespoke tailoring in the benchcraft tradition, practiced at Field English Custom Tailors (2134 Wisconsin Ave. NW), while Brioni (1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) — whose New York flagship’s bespoke service with a master tailor has been a staple for Trump — conveniently opened a new outpost last year at the Trump International Hotel. Julia Farr (5232 44th St. NW) attracts to her namesake boutique such heavy hitters as Dr. Jill Biden and CNN anchor Dana Bash. "Eighty percent of my collection is well-constructed sheath dresses with sleeves to the knee," she says. "Their lives are too complicated for piece-y dressing."
N.Y. — $75,000
The Mark Hotel
12,000-square-foot penthouse designed by Jacques Grange over the 16th and 17th floors, the largest suite in the country; five bedrooms, six bathrooms, two powder rooms, four fireplaces, two wet bars, dining room with seating for 24, rooftop terrace with Central Park views, library, private elevator, chef’s kitchen.
L.A. — $25,000
Penthouse Suite at the Beverly Wilshire
5,000 square feet on the private 14th floor; three bedrooms, wraparound terrace, media room, dining room with seating for 10, walk-in closet and chef’s kitchen.
D.C. — $25,000
Trump Townhouse at the Trump Hotel
6,300 square feet over two floors. Two bedrooms with separate bathrooms, private gym, living room, kitchenette, dining rooms with seating for 20, private entrance from Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Any of the Obamas, even Malia," says New York event powerhouse Andrew Saffir. "Malia came to the premiere we did for the final season of HBO's Girls and was the absolute belle of the ball. And right now, in New York, there's a palpable longing for the elegance and grace of Barack and Michelle, and I think every notable New Yorker would delight in being up close and personal with them right about now."
In Los Angeles, says Danielle Pelland of event production and marketing company Brilliant Consulting and producer of Harvey Weinstein’s pre-Oscar dinner: "Tom Ford is one of the city’s highest-profile new residents — moving his women’s design headquarters here has upped L.A.’s fashion profile." Pelland also names Jay Z, noting that "the buzz surrounding his recent film project, Time: The Kalief Browder Story, has given the music icon Hollywood gravitas." As for the best curated list in town? "The secret list of Larry Gagosian," says another L.A. party planner. "It crosses between the arts, film entertainment, music entertainment and social."
Meanwhile, D.C. seems to be going through an adjustment period with the new administration. Some party planners are clamoring to get their invites into Ivanka Trump’s hands, while others feel like the Trumps’ presence is an invasion. "It’s never really a bad thing for a first lady or cabinet member to show up to your party," says event producer and former Al Gore social secretary Philip Dufour. "Does it feel different in this town? Yes. But we have to roll with it." The top guest gets, by city, are:
NYC’s Andrew Saffir warns: "Dress is still a biggie here. At one premiere party we did at the Rainbow Room, one guest showed up in khaki shorts and a polo shirt. A big no-no." Ultimately, the onus is on the invitee to be entertaining. "You can’t be less interesting than what’s on my phone," says New Yorker and Difficult People star Billy Eichner, "or you’re going to lose that battle."
Brilliant Consulting’s Danielle Pelland advises against mixing too much business with an L.A. party: "Nobody came to hear your elevator pitch. You’re there to make an impression, not a deal — at least not that night." Alexis Martin Woodall, executive producer of Feud and American Horror Story and co-owner of Red Herring restaurant, says, "Smile from the moment you walk in — the biggest faux pas for me is the idea that playing elite and saying nothing is more interesting than being open."
Among the challenges of throwing a party in D.C. are no-shows — particularly members of Congress. "You could have the most wonderful event scheduled, and then there’s a vote on the Hill and people don’t show," says Dufour. "Then you have to reconfigure seating at the last minute." An even more egregious breach of party etiquette? When guests take it upon themselves to reconfigure the seating. "I’ve done state dinners where people move their place cards to seat themselves next to the president," adds Dufour. "We had to have military aides stationed at tables so people wouldn’t do that anymore."
"In New York, patients want to look like they did 10 years ago, but out west it’s more about reinvention," says New York dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank. "People don’t want to look like they once did, they want to look like they never did." The more conservative approach to plastic surgery applies to breast implants: "The average size on the East Coast is at least one-third to one-half smaller," says plastic surgeons Daniel Baker, with plastic surgeon Sharon Giese placing the average size for a New Yorker at a big B or small C, while Angelenos request a big C or small D. The average age of getting a facelift is older in N.Y. at 54, says facial plastic surgeon David Rosenberg. Plastic surgeon Robert Silich notes the difference in attitude: "Surgery is a little more acceptable in L.A., whereas it’s still hush-hush here. Surgeons on the West Coast are celebrated, while here I ignore patients if I run into them."
"In the past two years, millennials have been asking for the butts and breasts of their favorite social media personalities," says Dr. Gabriel Chiu of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery. "I get many requests for Emily Ratajkowski's breasts." Dr. Suzanne Trott, Hollywood’s "Lipo Queen," says, "Everyone always wants Nicole Kidman’s nose." What they don’t want, says Trott, is Kim Kardashian’s "huge" butt: "I see a backlash against that." Surgeons agree: Popular breast sizes include full B to small C cups. "Overall, the size has been getting more modest over the last three to four years," says Chiu. Face-lifts are on the decline, though they begin earlier than other cities, in the 40s. Trott does see young women in their 20s requesting small amounts of filler and prophylactic Botox. "I think that most of the TV actresses on young-adult shows like those on The CW probably have some filler in their lips and cheeks — it looks pretty and natural, but if you look back at the shows from the '80s and '90s, all the young beautiful girls did not have such perfect lips and cheekbones."
"In D.C., even though we are the Hollywood of the political world, it is extremely conservative, even more so than New York," says Washington, D.C.-based plastic surgeon Paul Ruff. "I trained in San Diego, and the conversation is very open there, but here it is not as open. Everyone rages against looking fake, over-injected or too perfect. We need to create a sense of honesty and integrity, so looking fake is a tremendous liability." As such, implants are smaller, as is filler volume, with less Botox used; the age of the average facelift is later, at 55 to 65. Jokes cosmetic dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi: "We laugh that in this town even if you are liberal, you are a plastic surgery conservative!" Facial plastic surgeon Steven Hopping concurs: "In Washington, they don’t want to bounce quarters off their faces or have a Kardashian butt."
N.Y. — Tables by BDDW
Designer Tyler Hays has developed such a passionate customer base — including Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lopez, Giorgio Armani and Harrison Ford — for his hand-crafted live-edge walnut slab dining tables ($30,000 to $140,000, depending on size) that he recently had to expand his bohemian-minimalist SoHo showroom. Bono ordered a custom 33-foot table for his estate in Ireland. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds bought one, too. And at BDDW’s sprawling 140,000 square-foot workshop in Philadelphia, craftsmen are working on a special, super-wide table for an actress with multiple Academy Awards.
"BDDW is definitely all word of mouth, which has helped create the mystery," says designer Phillip Lim, whose BDDW collection also includes leather-wrapped credenzas ($26,800) and a bespoke record player ($25,000). "I even introduced the Hermes family to his work." Says novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who owns a BDDW ping-pong table gifted him by Hays at a steep discount (but typically starting at $25,000): "Happening by the showroom one day, I was so moved by the obvious joy that was taken in the design that I wrote a letter to Tyler. What makes his work so special is the urgency. He creates like someone who got a terrible prognosis."
L.A. — Bubble chandelier by Lindsey Adelman
"It’s a such an incredible design — there’s a real wow factor whenever it’s hung," says Trip Haenisch, designer for Hank Azaria, Courteney Cox and WME’s Patrick Whitesell, of Lindsey Adelman's coveted Branching Bubble lighting series. "It’s a piece of art, romantic and transitional at the same time, and the beauty of it is that it works equally well in a modern home and a traditional home." There’s a 24-week production lead-time for the made-to-order, natural phenomena-inspired chandeliers, which have already been snapped up by Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon and Jon Hamm, and range from $9,000 to $30,000. Orders are designed and built either in Adelman’s New York studio or her newly opened L.A. outpost in the Arts District.
D.C. — At-home SCIF rooms
In a city where security clearance is status and mishandling classified info is a cautionary tale, having a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) in your own home is a bragging right reserved for very select cabinet secretaries and heads of security agencies, like FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director David Petraeus. While SCIFs are plentiful in the bowels of government buildings, one must have both clearance and demonstrate need to have one at home. A vault-like room designed to protect top-secret conversations and data — often converted from an office, extra room, or even a closet — SCIFs can only be built by certain U.S. contractors approved by the government, according to rigorous specifications, including round-the-clock security monitoring and armed-response capability. They are not only soundproof but also built to withstand sophisticated electronic eavesdropping, which means they have no windows, super-heavy doors, and "shockingly thick walls," according to one State Department insider, who adds that claustrophobes might think twice before entering. They can cost millions of (taxpayer) dollars to build, depending on size and location. A SCIF was recently installed in New York’s Trump Tower and also at Mar-a-Lago, though in general those with SCIFs "are highly unlikely to tell you that they have one because it would negate the point," according to a former SCIF-dweller. It should be noted that, email scandal aside, Hillary Clinton had two SCIFs, one in her New York home and one in her D.C. digs.
It used to be that securing that coveted table at the hot restaurant was enough. Now L.A. haunts like E.P & L.P., Cecconi’s and recently opened Vinoteca in the Four Seasons Beverly Hills are gifting celebrities and Hollywood insiders literal keys that offer figurative membership in a secret society and unlock secret off-menu items, entry into private tastings and one-on-one mixology classes, among other perks. "It’s something very personal," says Matt Huhn, Cecconi’s guest relations manager. "I have guests who come in every single day for breakfast. It’s a way to give something special back to our friends and neighbors." It’s also a serious bragging right. Each restaurant hand-picks its members, limiting the amount of keys given. "Getting into that secret club is an old-school tradition," says co-owner Grant Smillie, "but it still matters."
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"The jewels — emeralds, rubies, diamonds — are just so insanely beautiful," says Beverly Hills Cannabis Club founder Cheryl Shuman of the hollowed-out pens formerly owned by Russian czars, refashioned into $150,000 vapes that hold cannabis oil cartridges. Shuman, who estimates 85 percent of her clients are in the industry, offers custom oil blends ranging from $80 to $400 per gram, crafted from 100 percent organic, hand-trimmed cannabis flowers. "The quality of those oils is vitally important," she says. "It’s the difference between drinking Korbel and Cristal."
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The sky life isn’t for everyone, according to Richard Steinberg, a top broker at Douglas Elliman. "Any building, no matter how prestigious, has a lobby. People can see you come and go, and doormen talk," he says. "The trend now is that all the high-profile people are going back to townhouse living because it’s the easiest way to remain anonymous.” And because of landmarks restrictions, often the only way to go truly mega is to buy multiple properties and Frankenmansion them together.
These "Massive Single-Family Compounds" are most pronounced in the West Village, where Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick are currently renovating a pair of adjacent townhouses they bought last year at 273 and 275 West 11th St. for $34.5 million. When joined together, the 13,900 square-foot property will reportedly span 50 feet, with a 2,100 square-foot private garden. Just a few doors down at 138 West 11th St., telecom mogul and new Cablevision boss Dexter Goei recently dropped $31 million to convert a multiunit, double townhouse into his very own 11,000-square-foot compound. And this summer, one block south, Napster founder Sean Parker closed on the third of a trio of adjacent townhouses he now owns at 36, 38 and 40 West 10th St. Never to be outdone, in February hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen began building a family fortress at 145 Perry St., formerly known as 703-711 Washington St., which will include a colossal four-story mansion for him and a six-story building for his children. It’s about 300 feet from the super-sized mansion of Polo scion David Lauren and his wife Lauren Bush, who bought the trio of townhouses from Annie Leibowitz.
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What started as a girls’ night in among Washington friends has turned into one of the most coveted invites in D.C. Hosted in the Phillips Park home of Susanna Quinn — Washington influencer (her husband is Democratic former White House Counsel Jack Quinn) and entrepreneur (she founded Veluxe, an exclusive on-demand beauty service) — these gatherings have evolved into off-the-record dinners bringing top female journalists like MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and CNN’s Dana Bash together with a different D.C. power player each week (the night’s guest of honor can be male or female).
In the 20 or so dinners Quinn’s hosted, the seat at the head of the table has been filled by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senator John Thune (R-SD), and most recently, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA). One guest of honor, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, was even invited back for an encore. "I didn’t mind being cross-examined — it was spirited, all off-the-record, and it stayed that way," he says. "Susanna is very strict about the rules. No men. If husbands show up, they have to eat in the kitchen." In addition to her off-the-record mandate, table talk is restricted to one conversation at all times. "If people get into side conversations," says Quinn, "I clink my glass." Recent conversations have centered on the new administration, refugee vetting, and, inevitably, "politicians you hate so much you’d claw your way out of an elevator to get away from them," says Quinn.
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