LEFT: Adrienne Arsht stands in her DC home's "purse room," which features a dazzling collection of handbags by designer Iradj Moini. RIGHT: A sampling of Adrienne Arsht's collection of jewelry designed by Iradj Moini.
Obsession: jewelry, handbags, silver
Gliding down the stairs from her Washington home's second level, Adrienne Arsht greets me outfitted in a vibrant peplum dress and a substantial Iradj Moini necklace of malachite and rose quartz. She walks past her sitting room, which she also calls the "purse room"â€”featuring Moini's glittering handbags artfully arranged on shelvesâ€”and perches on a chair in her living room. This space, like others in her home, is adorned with small pillows embroidered with charming adagesâ€”"If the shoe fits, buy an outfit to match," says oneâ€”and Arsht also keeps an artful display of antique napkin rings nearby.
"Collecting has always been something [done] in my family," she says, noting that her parents were partial to Russian objects, in addition to early American antiquesâ€”which Arsht donated to Blair House. Though she's long possessed a love for American silver, she didn't move on to jewelry and jeweled handbags until later in life. The piece that started it all: a whimsical banana pin featured on the cover of Vogue about 25 years ago. The designer, she learned then, was Moini, but she found the piece, then priced under $1,000, too expensive and didn't buy. Years later, when in a better position to make a purchase, she spotted a frog pin, also by Moini. Today, that jeweled amphibian is in her collection along with Moini's banana pin and hundreds of his other designs, from custom (and colorful) jeweled belts to statement necklaces, rings, and bracelets. "[You have] one. Then you get two, and it's a pair. Then three, and it's a collection. And then it's an obsession," Arsht says brightly.
The arts supporter, noted businesswoman, and generous giver, who recently bestowed a $5 million founding grant to the Atlantic Council (to launch the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center), takes time to understand her pieces, often poring over her shelves of booksâ€”she collects tomes on fashion, art, and jewelryâ€”in her home's lower-level libraries. When it comes to her jewelry, she wears her favorite pieces often, even if just at home. "I walk in the house, and I do enjoy it," she admits.
LEFT: Kristin Guiter gives lots of TLC to her impressive trove of vintage frocks, including a delicate, raw silk pink dress from PollySue's Vintage Shop in Takoma Park. RIGHT: Guiter also has a great affection for vintage cowboy boots.
Obsession: vintage dresses
Walking into Kristin Guiter's airy DC apartment is like stepping into a time capsuleâ€”albeit a stylish one. An antique wooden stand holds a television in one corner, and a mid-century bar is the resting place for a working record player. But the showstopper in her space may well be the closet, which takes over the entire room at the rear of her apartment, as well as the carefully arranged rack of vintage dresses that takes residence by her bed. You see, Guiter, a marketing strategist who specializes in arts and culture, has a "certain nostalgia" for the past.
"I try to purchaseâ€”at least dressesâ€”exclusively vintage," she explains, while gently sifting through the rack that holds fragile items from the 1940s to the 1990s, with some tags for boutiques that no longer exist. "I certainly handle them with a lot of TLCâ€” that means constant maintenance and cleaning after every wear." Each piece fits her well, and her eye for sizing means that she rarely needs to alter her finds unless, of course, she wants to.
She will sometimes add vintage buttons, often found during her trips to Eastern Market, or adjust hem length. And each of her acquisitions, which include evening gowns and ballerina-esque frocks, has a story, especially since she wears her dresses to special events after buying them locally and on her travels. (She found one beloved paisley-print piece in Montreal and calls Mercedes Bien, in Adams Morgan, and Takoma Park's PollySue's area vintage favorites.) "The great thing about vintage is that it will be unique and special," she says, cheerfully admitting that she's always looking for new items. "If you find the dress, the occasion will come to you."
LEFT: Michael Dumlao acquired this red double-breasted military jacket in Seoul. RIGHT: Dumlao has procured many of the eclectic pieces in his collection over the course of his travels around the world.
Obsession: world fashion
A senior art director at Booz Allen Hamilton and a freelance photographer, Michael Dumlao would neverâ€”everâ€”sport a mass-marketed suit, tie, and wing tips. At least not exclusively. When we talk, for instance, he's wearing skinny white cotton pants and a brooch purchased from a vintage dealer in Paris, a short-sleeved seersucker shirt from north LA, argyle socks, and boots.
"I've always had the philosophy of finding something interesting," he says, ruminating on his time spent living in the Philippines, Australia, and California, and his years at performing arts schools. Now calling DC homeâ€”he's lived here longer than in any other placeâ€”Dumlao is the cofounder of Fashion Fights Poverty, which is devoted to alleviating poverty by raising money and awareness within the fashion, textile, and design industries. And he has a particular affinity for Asian designers and pieces from steampunk subculture and the Victorian era. (Think vintage ascots and scarves, and cuff links made from recycled watch partsâ€”one of his favorite items.) "As an Asian American myself, I feel a great responsibility to support the fashions of my people," he says. "I think fashion is just an extension of my ability to express my creativity," he adds. "I do not believe in toning myself down, ever."
He doesn't have to, thanks to his creative day job and second career as a lensman. "What I tried to collect were pieces that were unusual, dynamic; [ones] that would separate me from the usual suits," he says. "I don't go to brand names. I would sooner support a local, unknown, small designer." Inspired by quirky designs and pieces with compelling history, his love for clothes "as collectible art" shows no sign of fading. As for how he can mix things up in a city often known for being conservative in dress? "When people think DC, they think beige and boringâ€¦ but that is not the case at all," he explains. "I pull off [my style] because I wear it with a huge dose of â€˜This is who I am.'"
by leslie quander wooldridge | August 20, 2013 | People
photography by steven voss
August 29, 2018