Polished performance


No executives better embody the adage of "Never let them see you sweat" than Hollywood's female power players. Whether she's breakfasting at the Polo Lounge, lunching at Pizzeria Mozza or heading off to a premiere at the ArcLight, today's industry insider has to be professional, polished and red-carpet ready for 20 hours a day, dressed to project confidence without eliminating femininity -- all while embodying the essence of impenetrable leadership.

It's a tall order.

"I basically hit the deck running as soon as I wake up and don't turn my brain off till long after the lights are out," says Bonnie Hammer, president of USA Network and Sci Fi Channel. "As any female executive with a family knows, you're making mental lists all through the night. You're often not sure you've managed to sleep at all."

But rather than becoming mired in the minutiae of day-to-day living, savvy executives find an army of helpers who are as invaluable as a trusted co-worker. Here's a look at some of Los Angeles' finest.

Personal shoppers

With a roster of past and present clients that reads like a who's who of Hollywood heavyweights -- Fox's Dana Walden, DreamWorks' Stacey Snider, the CW's Dawn Ostroff, ABC Studios' Julia Franz -- Dana Asher is a personal shopper to elite executives.

"She has beautiful taste and understands what I will and won't feel comfortable wearing, which is important," Walden explains. "She's also a great person whom I enjoy spending time with, even if it has become a very expensive friendship."

Asher's business focuses on powerful female execs for good reason. "Unlike celebrities, female executives respect my time," Asher says. "They're incredibly busy -- so when they make an appointment with me to be fitted at 5 a.m. -- they're there. They also don't expect clothes for free. I spend $200,000 to $300,000 a week shopping for my clients on Rodeo Drive."

But Asher's niche requires flexibility. "I've set up jewelry for clients in their hotel room before they arrive -- I go wherever they need me."

And though Asher works with powerful execs regularly, she's still amazed by their work ethic. "I turn off my BlackBerry between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m -- it's always interesting to see whose messages come in at the wee hours of the night. These women don't sleep. Their minds are always going."

While most executives favor classic styles, Asher says they all seem to like designer suits. "The designer suits female execs are wearing most are Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Gucci," she explains.

Asher is there for her clients wherever and whenever they need her, but some power brokers find that personal shoppers from specialized stores are able to handle their needs. "I would have no time to shop if not for my personal shoppers," says Warner Bros.' Sue Kroll. "Ajit Benepal at Barney's pulls things together from all my favorite brands. There's also Flora Core, (a sales associate) at Neiman Marcus."

Top execs at CAA, Universal and Warner Bros. also frequent Neiman Marcus, visiting Bobo Choi and Catherine Bloom for their go-to shopping needs. "The wardrobe for the female power executive is still conservative," Choi says, "but it's become more stylish and about individual taste -- instead of just a boxy suit. Each (executive) has a different style. I dress them accordingly: short, tall, wide, narrow, etc."

"Jackets are more acceptable to wear with a coordinated rather than a matching skirt or pant," Bloom adds, "so that becomes the new suit."

When it comes to casual wear, boutiques are the way to go. Brillstein Entertainment Partners' Cynthia Pett-Dante favors the new Juicy Couture flagship store on Rodeo Drive and Theory on Melrose Avenue; Fox's Rachel Bendavid likes the boutique Persimmon for its "incredible jewelry"; and Warner Bros.' Kroll counts on Dan Wright at Marc Jacobs and Jay Williams at Prada for great basics and special-events clothing.

But it's the boutique Intuition on Pico that's a star when it comes to attracting powerful female clientele. Owner Jaye Hersh named her business after the reason she opened her business: to pay for her children's school tuition. Her loyal clients include a host of the city's biggest agents, including ICM's Toni Howard, UTA's Sue Naegle, CAA's Tracy Brennan, Endeavor's Nancy Josephson, plus producer Kathleen Kennedy and Fox's Debbie Liebling.

"Intuition is the one-stop shop for the busy exec. They come in or call in their requests -- we do all the work," says Hersh. "We often send out packages to offices and make after-hour deliveries for last-minute fashion emergencies."


Finding just the right gift for co-workers is a challenge for even the savviest shoppers, which is where gifting company Star Treatment comes in. Run by Marnie Lerner and Cynde Cassell, Star Treatment has set the industry standard for corporate and custom gifting. And although they're known in part for "shopping for the stars" -- little-known figures such as George Clooney, Angelina Jolie and Julie Roberts -- they're at heart a resource for Hollywood execs who might need one perfect gift for Steven Spielberg or 100 perfect gifts for a wrap party. Their "Studio Services" clients include HBO, Sony, Columbia, Universal, MGM and CAA.

"My female executive clients are very much in the know," says Cassell. "They're interested in luxury and high-quality brands that people recognize. I do extensive research on the gift's recipient to make sure the gift is personal, and I keep detailed records to avoid duplications. My job is to fill baskets with food they won't throw away and goods they won't regift to their assistant."

Party planning

Throwing together a soiree for friends who regularly attend lavish Hollywood parties can be a daunting task, but Mindy Weiss, one of the premiere wedding and party planners in the country, is happy for the challenge. She counts Fox's Walden, the CW's Ostroff, TLC's Angela Shapiro-Mathes and a cavalcade of other execs and celebrities among her clients.

And for good reason. "Whether it's a professional event or a party for my parents," Walden says, "I don't worry about any detail when Mindy and her team are involved. I trust her completely and have never been disappointed with the result of her efforts."

She's also getting into the snacks-on-the-go game. She grew up loving the personalized attention of Owen's Market in Beverly Hills and is reopening it as Owen's Market by Mindy Weiss.

"As a working mother with three boys, I never have enough time to do everything -- and I know it's the same for Hollywood executive moms, too," Weiss says. "For instance, it's hard enough to break away from work to get to the game -- but when it's your turn to bring the snacks, it just can be too much to do! So, one of the great details I'll be providing with Owen's Market is snacks for soccer/ baseball/basketball practice. You'll just call us, and we'll deliver -- to the field -- a crate of ready-to-eat, cut oranges, drinks or any other healthy snacks you request."

Personal concierge

Looking to hire a Mariachi band for a graduation party, locate
a Lebanese folk dance teacher, find a decorator to redesign the interior of a Gulfstream, hire a strolling doo-wop group for a wedding or purchase a set of Jules Verne first-edition books?

Well, look no further than Merle Elias, author of "L.A. First Class" and owner of the personal concierge service Exceptional Means.

"Many of these women place a high value on their personal time because they're running their companies while overseeing their families. They've come to rely on my expertise to provide them with access to the best goods and services that are out there," Elias says. "Sometimes the requests are as simple as phoning their guest list for a party. Often it is stuff they don't want their assistants to spend time on. One of the more unique requests is when an executive asked me to hire a private investigator to locate a particular repairman."


Eyebrow queen Anastasia is renowned for her powerful client list, which includes Sony's Amy Pascal, Oprah Winfrey, BermanBraun's Gail Berman, DreamWorks' Snider, Fox's Pam Levine, Shapiro-Mathes, Fox Searchlight's Nancy Utley and Endeavor's Josephson. But perhaps its Anastasia's silent treatment that keeps them coming back for more.

"These women are so busy that they need five to 10 minutes for themselves to relax and enjoy," she explains, "so I prefer to keep conversation at a minimum unless they want to talk, as I know they just need a little quiet time."

Mobile services

But for many execs, the services they value most are those brought to their front door. Fred Segal Beauty Mobile Services names Sherry Lansing and Keri Selig among its many female clients.

"Many of these women are extremely busy and on the go. Having a service come do their nails, hair, makeup or anything else at their workplace or home saves them a lot of traveling time and effort," says Fred Segal Beauty CEO Michael A. Baruch. "Moreover, it is extremely private."