Wash­ing­ton so­ci­ety pre­pares for re­turn of lux­ury

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHANIE MANS­FIELD

Think of it as Rea­gan Re­dux: Rus­sian sable blan­kets and Lear-lock at lo­cal air­ports. The res­ur­rec­tion of the $600 tast­ing menus and the 14-karat gold tins of Al­mas caviar. Faberge eggs for break­fast.

Wash­ing­ton is brac­ing for what may be the big­gest seis­mic shift in taste and cul­ture since 1981, when Jimmy and Ros­alynn Carter de­camped, and Nancy Rea­gan ar­rived with her $25,000 in­au­gu­ral wardrobe ($60,000 in to­day’s money), not to men­tion her $200,000 White House china set.

From real es­tate agents to restau­ra­teurs, cater­ers to cave dwellers, lob­by­ists to ladies who lunch, ev­ery­one in of­fi­cial Wash­ing­ton is ask­ing the same ques­tion: Just how dif­fer­ent will a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion be?

“It’s like a military junta with a lot of bil­lion­aires sprin­kled on top,” said Kevin Chaf­fee, a long­time lo­cal so­cial ob­server and ed­i­tor at Wash­ing­ton Life. “It’s go­ing to be glitz. He loves glitz.”

But the pres­i­dent-elect also loves cherry-vanilla ice cream, See’s can­dies, taco bowls and fried chicken, eaten with a knife and fork.

Wash­ing­ton jour­nal­ist and host­ess Sally Quinn once de­scribed the im­pact the more cere­bral Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had on Wash­ing­ton: “So­cially, it’s like the city is on Am­bien.”

Will it now be a city on steroids?

“Wash­ing­ton is cer­tain to be­come an even live­lier place un­der this new pres­i­dent,” said John Arun­del, as­so­ciate pub­lisher of Wash­ing­ton Life. “While he doesn’t drink, he’s quite fond of a good party or a solid black-tie [event] with peo­ple he feels are at his level. … Other than state din­ners, Pres­i­dent and Mrs. Obama never re­ally ven­tured into so­cial Wash­ing­ton.“

Ann Hand, a no­table Wash­ing­ton jew­elry de­signer and fix­ture on the so­cial cir­cuit who has been mak­ing in­au­gu­ral pins for the last 20 years, pre­dicts that it is “go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing to watch this in­cred­i­bly dif­fer­ent fam­ily.” Her $75 Made in Amer­ica Trump pin is on back or­der. “The fac­tory is rush­ing to do as many as they can.”

With anx­ious em­bassies vy­ing to snag all the new Cabi­net mem­bers and restau­rants look­ing for ways to tap into a steady stream of Amer­i­can Ex­press Black cards, Wash­ing­ton feels like a cap­i­tal on the verge of a sud­den sea change.

On a street in leafy North­west Wash­ing­ton known as Bil­lion­aire’s Row, su­per­in­vestor and Com­merce Sec­re­tary pick Wil­bur Ross and his wife Hi­lary have pur­chased a 10,000-square-foot, sev­enbed­room house with a 12-seat movie theater and staff quar­ters, digs for­merly owned by phi­lan­thropist Adri­enne Ar­sht that was listed for $12 mil­lion.

“I mean, ‘Hello? He’s not even con­firmed yet!’ This town is on fire!” said long­time Wash­ing­ton “It Girl” Tandy Dick­er­son. “And the real es­tate agents must be wet­ting their pants.”

It’s not as if Wash­ing­ton hasn’t seen new money be­fore, with all the tech giants and start-up mil­lion­aires of late. But Mr. Trump (and his bil­lion­aire bud­dies) are yu­u­uge, with bank ac­counts and net worths far be­yond any­thing the town has seen in re­cent years.

“It will be a la Kennedy and Rea­gan — in that or­der,“Ms. Dick­er­son said.

Nancy un­der fire

Of course, many of the city’s old guard still think the Rea­gan era was just di­vine. But Nancy Rea­gan (in stark con­trast to the more down-home Mrs. Carter) suf­fered end­less crit­i­cism for her ex­trav­a­gant ways dur­ing her hus­band’s two terms in of­fice in the 1980s. The press ea­gerly chron­i­cled the ex­cesses: Full-blown roses shipped in daily from South Amer­ica. Pas­sion fruit sor­bet. James Galanos and Os­car de la Renta gowns (which turned out to be “bor­rowed”).

The hottest-sell­ing post­card in the Wash­ing­ton then was Mrs. Rea­gan seated on a throne, wear­ing an er­mine cape and a di­a­mond- and gold-en­crusted crown. The caption: “Queen Nancy.”

Long­time Wash­ing­ton so­cial ob­servers note that Ge­orge W. Bush and wife Laura were not ex­actly a bar­rel of fun. He went to bed at 9 o’clock. She read.

The Trumps will also get a place in the Wash­ing­ton So­cial Regis­ter, also known as The Green Book. As­pir­ing so­cialites were known in the past to kill to be in­cluded. He­len Ray Hag­ner, who founded the Regis­ter in 1930, kept in­dex cards with ini­tials on each per­son’s name. (Note to Trump: You could be dropped for be­ing an “FP” — fanny-pincher.)

Since Me­la­nia Trump, the Slove­nian-born first lady-to-be and for­mer model, will not be mov­ing to the White House un­til the Trumps’ son Bar­ron fin­ishes out his $40,000-a-year pri­vate school term in Man­hat­tan, Wash­ing­ton in­sid­ers will have to wait for her pro­to­col de­but. Bar­ron, 10, is fond of fir­ing his nan­nies and wear­ing suits and ties, and gets rubbed down head to toe ev­ery night from his mother’s mois­tur­izer, Caviar Com­plexe C6. (Note to White House main­te­nance: He’s also fa­mous for draw­ing on walls.)

Will first daugh­ter Ivanka Trump, cur­rently house-hunt­ing with hus­band Jared Kush­ner in Ge­orge­town, get her blond locks tressed by a lowly worm lo­cal, or will she still go to New York’s no­to­ri­ous French-born Julien Farel? The sa­lon owner, whose clients shell out $1,250 for a cut and blow-dry, was nat­u­rally vague. “Ivanka’s a great girl. She’s pretty and smart and bright.”

The lat­est re­ports say Ivanka will tem­po­rar­ily carry out the first lady du­ties and have an of­fice in the White House.

“There will be a lot of changes com­ing,” pre­dicts Franco Nuschese, whose Ge­orge­town hot spot Cafe Mi­lano has been ground zero for the rich and fa­mous for 25 years. “I think peo­ple will be go­ing out more.”

Even the Repub­li­cans who voted against Mr. Trump are, well, com­ing around, and for good rea­son: Power is fleet­ing. And be­cause no mat­ter who the new pres­i­dent is, af­ter all, he’s just a tem­po­rary res­i­dent — an ar­riv­iste.

Will he de­sign new gold braided uni­forms for the White House ush­ers, as Richard Nixon did for the White House se­cu­rity staff nearly a half-cen­tury ago? As one of Mr. Trump’s sons ob­served, the White House is a step down from Trump Tower for the bil­lion­aire de­vel­oper. Mr. Chaf­fee, who has cov­ered Wash­ing­ton so­ci­ety for nearly 40 years through mul­ti­ple ad­min­is­tra­tions, urges the lo­cals to give the new guy some space.

“Peo­ple need to stop be­ing cry­ba­bies,” he said, “and give the guy a chance.”

YES­TER­YEAR: Nancy Rea­gan ar­rived in 1981 with a $25,000 in­au­gu­ral wardrobe and $200,000 worth of china.

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