Los Angeles Social Diary: Chanel’s New Flagship

Rodeo Drive and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.


Chanel unveiled its newly redesigned flagship store in Beverly Hills, and for the opening partnered with P.S. Arts, the Los Angeles-based organization that raises funds for arts education in public schools.

The evening’s chairs were: Maria Bell (who chaired The National Arts Awards in NYC in October), Rachel Bilson, Susan Casden, Kristin Davis, Zooey Deschanel, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kelly Fisher Katz, Kate Mara, Robin McMonigle, Carolyn Powers, Carla Sands, Elizabeth Stewart, Kerry Washington, and Candie Weitz.

Internationally acclaimed New York-based architect Peter Marino designed this smashing Chanel Boutique, the new focus on Rodeo Drive, dubbed the Madison Avenue of Beverly Hills by some.

Architect Peter Marino and LED creation.

Using the classic Chanel No. 5 perfume box as inspiration, Marino transformed the boutique’s façade with milky white micro glass outlined in blackened steel, recreating the trademark packaging perfectly.

The interior, especially the grand staircase, was built with the same impeccable detail, reminiscent of Gabrielle Chanel’s (aka Coco) Paris Boutique, the orphan girl who reigned as fashion’s most formidable force. Still the décor features modern twists like the LED luminary wall and custom carpets patterned after Chanel’s classic tweeds.

My good friend Gay Gassmann, Marino’s European associate, invited me to meet the internationally renowned artists who were commissioned to create the site-specific works “inspired by Mademoiselle Chanel’s emblems.”

Artists like Belgian ceramic sculpture Johan Creten, American painter Peter Dayton, French Francois-Xavier Lalanne, French sculpture Jean-Michel Othoniel, Italian Paola Pivi, American photographer Alec Soth, and Iranian émigré Y.Z. Kami –were all there to mix, mingle and meet the fortunate party guests.

My Los Angeles friends mentioned that unlike New York, LA society doesn’t get much press since Hollywood usually hogs the spotlight. Tonight was different, however, since the host committee was filled with society leaders, celebrities, and the movers and shakers of the city.

The guests were beautiful, chic and soignée, and classically clad in vintage and contemporary Chanel designs, while carrying those signature handbags.

P.S. ARTS HOST committee members Maria Bell, Kelly Fisher Katz, Carolyn Powers, and Robin McMonigle.

Other lovelies in the crowd were: Hillary Duff, Lisa Kudrow (of the TV’s Friends), Kristen Bell, Kate Beckinsale, Colleen Bell, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Angie Harmon of new TV hit, James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club, Amanda Peet, Shiva Rose, Suzanne Saperstein (who hosted a ladies luncheon the next day at her French inspired chateaux), and Karen Winnick.

Other VIP clients showed up too: Cornelia Guest, daughter of the late CZ Guest, the Dupont twins, diet guru Nikki Haskell, Annette O’Malley, who was “off to Tuscany to shop and eat,” Stephanie Ejabat, Board member of P.S. Arts and San Francisco Ballet along with her mother Virginia Barrage of Santa Barbara. Style icon Liz Goldwyn, granddaughter of MGM’S Samuel Goldwyn, lent a touch of Hollywood royalty.

Teryn Davis, of Santa Barbara and Aspen, in white couture Chanel from Paris, mentioned that Karl Lagerfeld shot her portrait at his Paris home, which she described as “magnificent.”

Out-of-towners included Napa Valley vintner Michael Polenske, who donated his BlackBird wine for the night. Knowing he was a founding member of the Napa Valley Reserve, an elite wine club, I introduced him to Mary and Reese Milner, who are also members.

Boutique concept mimics iconic Chanel No. 5 packaging.

Beverly Hills Boutique on Rodeo Drive.

As the conversation turned from fashion to wine, Carrie and Bill Powers joined in. By the way, in November the Powers Field in Princeton Stadium was dedicated to the family after they made the largest ever donation to Princeton’s athletics. Paul MacCaskill joined the conversation and talked of his wife, Laurie MacCaskill, a pancreatic cancer survivor who recently received the Spirit of Hope Award at the Evening with the Stars, Pancreatic
Cancer Action Network.

The entire New York Chanel corporate office must have flown to LA for the occasion: President and COO John Galantic, Barbara Cirkva, Susan Clatworthy, Rebekah McCabe, Gretchen Fenton, and Arianne Gold.

Mary said, “We all love Matthew Amendolaro, the new Chanel GM by way of Neiman Marcus. “I think ‘Chanel’ was surprised he knew everyone who walked through the door -they’re fortunate to have him.”

Fashionable San Franciscan Samantha Traina displayed the fashion sense she developed from years of tagging along with her mother, Danielle Steel, to those couture fashion shows. With such a well-trained eye and that literary background, she’s now Associate Fashion Editor for ‘C’ magazine.

Paparazzi and locals ogle crowd.

Bay area couture collector Tatiana Sorokko chatted with LA designer Monique Lhuillier, famous for her wedding dresses and evening wear so popular with the stars. “I look up to Chanel and I love her sense of style,” said Lhuillier. “Karl Lagerfeld has infused modernity which is so desirable. It’s magical, the epitome of style.”

Those ‘in the know’ headed to the exclusive fourth floor VIP penthouse with its lacquered walls, white banquettes and wraparound rooftop terrace, crammed with clusters of white flowers and the ubiquitous double-C logo.

“Chanel is my basic black dress,” added Lauren King. “If I don’t know what to do, I wear a Chanel and I feel right …it’s classic and timeless.”

Smartly dressed Ina Hocutta in head to toe Chanel added, “I’ve been shopping Chanel for 30 years and wear it exclusively. I keep all the old and new together – the shoes are 8 years old, but they work with this year’s clothes. It keeps my life simple.”

Perhaps Bill Davis had the best line of the night. He retold how he dared ask the great Lagerfeld, “How come you designers make so much money by getting us to pay for all those clothes when all we want to do is take them off?”

CEO of Chanel Barbara Cirkva, John Galantic, President of Coty Beauty, U.S., and Susan Clatworthy, Senior VP of Retail Division.

Lisa Kudrow.

Rachel Bilson.

Kate Beckinsale and director Len Wiseman.

Ginnifer Goodwin.

Amanda Peet.

Kate Mara.

Kelly Carlson.

Kerry Washington.

Hilary Duff.

Jennifer Morrison.

Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Jeanne Lawrence and Teryn Davis.

Barbara Cirkva.

Decked out in Chanel Gay Gassmann, Paris associate of Peter Marino.

Artist Johan Creten.

Pure white flowers.

Artist Peter Dayton.

Artist Jean-Michel Othoniel.

Artist Francois-Xavier Lalanne and his wife.

Kathy and Rick Hilton.

Artist Paola Pivi.

Artist Alec Soth.

Chanel Signature.

Chris Klein and architect Peter Marino.

Producers Robert and Richard Dupont with Cornelia Guest.

Lauren Pronger and Joanne Maleyd of Newport Beach.

Reese Milner, Bill Powers, Carolyn Powers, Paul McCatskill, Mary Milner, and Michael Polenske.

Stephanie Ejabat, Beverly Barlage, and Maria Bell.

C Magazine’s Nathan Cooper, Jennifer Hale, and Gina Tolleson.

Walking down Rodeo toward Beverley Wilshire.

Hot cars, of course.


After a lively cocktail party, those who were lucky snagged the invitation to the private dinner at the CUT, the new restaurant at the ritzy Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire, a few blocks away.

Wolfgang Puck, the chef with a food empire, created CUT – a contemporary version on the classic steakhouse – and worked with architect Richard Meier (designed the Getty Center), who designed this trademark all-white space with Lucite tables and chairs.

Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and his fiancee Gelila Assefa.

Guests raved about the LA food scene and the exquisite dinner of Angus “Kobe Style” Beef from Mishima Ranch, and line-caught salmon as well as vegetarian options; after all this is a body-conscious city.

But Christine Wellner commented to me, knowing I live in NYC too, “But my 7-year old son loves NY because there’s a hot dog stand on every corner…that’s what makes him happy.”

A group from Newport Beach in Orange County drove up and included P.S. Arts board member and mother of four, Robin McMonigle, “This is a star studded evening and it’s so very nice to see actor Chris Klein on the board and involved…it really helps.” she said.

These gals were all wearing the white J12 watch. “We love it and we often buy the same pieces as we have the same taste,” said Joanne Maleyd. “We could save a lot of money if we shared our Chanel jewelry.”

“Any Chanel is timeless…who can disagree with that,” added her friend Lauren Pronger.

The surprise entertainment for the night was the special performance by Cat Power, who sang her soulful songs in this private sexy cabaret setting. As I left after midnight, I noticed the “Chanel Team” was finally able to relax and enjoy themselves, and were recapping the success of the evening. Even Peter Marino stayed until the very end.

A general view is seen during the CHANEL and P.S. ARTS Party held at CUT inside the Beverly Wilshire.

Cut’s ready for the VIPs.

Cat Power entertains.

Chanel team, there to the end.


Barneys New York-LA.


D&G, of course.


Brooks Brothers.

Fashion fun at Juicy Couture.

NY style deli down the street.

Ralph Lauren.



Lana Marks the spot.

Open air Prada.

Louis Vuitton.


Photographs by Getty Images and Jeanne Lawrence.

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