THE SPACE SPECIALIST
Christopher Boutlier (LEFT) launched his eponymous interior design firm five years ago and quickly became known for his keen ability to marry disparate styles for clients with eclectic taste. “In interior design, the Holy Grail is to have a signature look, then replicate that over and over again, but that’s something that never really resonated with me,” explains Boutlier, who ditched a future in finance in favor of a more creative route. The Louisiana native says he builds his business by putting a client’s wants, needs, and budget first, then translating his or her vision into a well-curated reality. Recent projects include rooms designed for a Northern Virginia resident who favors bold colors and ornate patterns. Boutlier traveled with his client to West Palm Beach, where they sourced weathered antiques. For him, the most rewarding projects are those that push him to do research and learn. “I love the ones that get you working with something outside of your personal style.”
Vest ($1,795) and shirt ($450), Loro Piana. Neiman Marcus, Mazza Gallerie, 202-966-9700. Sweater ($595) and sweater worn as a scarf ($595), Ports 1961. ports1961.com. Hat, Loro Piana ($250). Neiman Marcus, Mazza Gallerie, 202-966-9700. Pants, Boutlier’s own
THE EVENTS MAVEN
André Wells (RIGHT) first came to Washington after landing a job as a buyer for Hecht’s department stores. The post turned out to be a desk job focused on spreadsheets, so after some soul-searching, he resigned and started volunteering with local florists and caterers to learn about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into planning the city’s most stellar celebrations. “I always wanted to be an events planner,” Wells recalls, “There are so many events in Washington, because it’s the District that runs the nation. So I thought, Wow, I can really do this.” Now nine years in business, Wells’s company, Events by André Wells, has become the go-to firm for local big shots and celebrities alike; past clients have included President Bill Clinton and Aretha Franklin. Known for his signature spectacles, dapper dress, and large collection of bow ties—“I was wearing them before they were really that popular,” he asserts—the six-foot-four-and-a-half Florida native’s style-savviness stands out, literally and figuratively, in Washington.
Cardigan ($595), shirt ($165), and tie ($95), Ralph Lauren. The Collection at Chevy Chase, 301-718-4223. Glasses and belt, Wells’s own
THE MUSIC AGENT
“The first question I always get is, ‘Why are you in DC?’” quips Arash Shirazi, cofounder and CEO of The Bullitt Agency. The Iranian-born Rockville native, who launched his Georgetown music management agency with just one client more than a decade ago, says his response is always the same. “I love DC and think that my way of giving back is to build a business here,” Shirazi explains. “You’ll find me on a plane every week going here and there, but [being based in the District] is a lot cheaper than being in New York City, and the talent pool is better.” Shirazi—whose stable of performers includes mostly internationally known DJs, including Grammy-winning DJ Dubfire—began handling musical acts after stints at the Discovery Channel and a speaker’s bureau, where he learned firsthand how to manage talent. Today his agency has a staff of 15 and a second office in Barcelona. Shirazi says he is often being tapped to show movie stars the way of the world through a DC lens. “[Celebrities] see me as a good connector, and someone they can trust.”
THE PIE GUY
Cupcake bakeries have become as ubiquitous as Starbucks in DC. If you want a treat, just walk a block and there will be a place—or three— to get your fix. But if you want a pie, a really good pie, in Washington, there’s only one man to see: Rodney “Pie Man” Henry.
The founder of Dangerously Delicious Pies took DC’s foodie community by surprise when his unassuming Baltimore café and bakeshop opened an H Street outpost in 2010 and quickly became a runaway hit. The success of his first District location led to more shop openings, and Henry’s sweet and savory creations are now for sale at branded eateries in Union Station and Chinatown. Henry, a Montgomery County native who says he used to make pies mostly to impress dates, turned his hobby into a business in 2002 to help support his first love, playing music. “Pie pays for rock ’n’ roll… that was the plan,” he says. “Then more business came to me, and the rest was, as they say, history.” Henry still hits the road to play with the Glenmont Popes when he can, and his world-domination-by-pie plan has already taken root in other cities. Detroit boasts a DDP, and Austin will be the next American city to get a taste of his masterwork.
Coat ($595), cardigan ($425), and shirt ($375), Ralph Lauren. The Collection at Chevy Chase, 301-718-4223.
Todd DeLorenzo spends most days thinking about how he can turn the nonsense of Washington into a Hollywood hit. A political consultant who served as chief of staff for James Carville, the longtime DC resident transitioned from working mostly in strategy and politics to penning screenplays and producing films eight years ago. For many wonks, the career pivot may seem like an impossibility, but DeLorenzo says success lies in keeping perspective and knowing how to play the game. “DC and LA both require power,” he says. “And I sort of have embraced the who-you-know [concept] rather than run from it.” The New Jersey native sold his first politically themed pilot to MTV in 2004; DeLorenzo later shopped shows—his subjects ranged from elections to baseball—to Lifetime, HBO, and TBS. “I know I was lucky,” he recalls, “but then I sold two more and thought… [I may] be good at this.” Though he still serves as a consultant for a few nonprofits, DeLorenzo’s focus remains on creative work. And he believes the District is the best place to put pen to paper. “There is more work to do here… Washington is a creative and inspiring place.”
Vest ($3,595), pullover ($1,345), and shirt ($450), Loro Piana. Neiman Marcus, Mazza Gallerie, 202-966-9700.
THE STUDIO CHIEF
Michael Clements’s (LEFT) résumé is as diverse as it is far reaching: Acting in LA, communications consulting in Japan, magazine editing in Washington. But it wasn’t until he launched ArtJamz that he felt defined. A popup art-party series turned brick-and-mortar studio and lounge in Dupont Circle, people can “stop by anytime to paint, buy a drink, and listen to music,” Clements says. “The beauty of ArtJamz is the lack of structure.” There are no classes or programs offered, but a cadre of 12 artists, “creative enablers,” who rotate in and out, can offer expert advice or stylistic guidance to guests upon request. DC’s response to the concept has been overwhelmingly positive, “People here are open to creativity and something different,” says Clements. Even though the business model is still, admittedly, “somewhat of a blank canvas,” says the AU grad, “hopefully we have a masterpiece in the making.”
Stefan jacket, Elie Tahari ($698), Tysons Galleria, McLean, 571-765-3396. Cardigan ($795), shirt ($375), and tie ($155), Ralph Lauren. The Collection at Chevy Chase, 301-718-4223. Pants and glasses, Clements’s own
Eliot Payne (RIGHT) is a patent attorney by trade, but an artist and designer at heart. The founder of a distinctive bow-tie label called Accoutre, Payne scours local fabric shops to find just the right textiles for his creations. From metallic leopard prints to more subdued linen blends, Accoutre bow ties are meant “to interject a little more funk into what you’re wearing,” says Payne who often acts as a fashion consultant, encouraging his clients to push the proverbial envelope. “It’s one of my pet peeves when someone says, ‘I can’t pull that off.’” When it comes to dressing well, “people [in Washington] just need a gentle nudge,” he explains. Payne is currently at work developing a winter collection, which he says will feature ties washed in a bright palette of mustard, fuchsia, and sea-foam green. But he’s quick to add that the line will also embrace the unexpected: think bow ties cut from winter-ready materials such as suede.
Coat (price upon request) and sweater ($595), Ports 1961. Cashmere scarf, Loro Piana ($875). Neiman Marcus, Mazza Gallerie, 202-966-9700.
In the late ’90s, while on a road trip from Texas to New York City, Michael Mansfield ran out of gas in DC. Fast forward about 15 years, and he’s still here—though certainly not stranded. “I got a job, and that was it,” explains the associate curator of film and media arts at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “I just sort of fell into this city.” Youthful capriciousness may have gotten him here, but Mansfield’s creative talents are what have made him an indispensable voice in DC’s arts scene. In his role at the museum, he is part of a small group that is charged with trailblazing in a sphere of the art world that is still being understood and appreciated—a rare opportunity in sometimes-stuffy curatorial circles. “I have been fortunate to be on the ground floor of the initiative. Rather than inherit a collection, we are building one,” he effuses. SAAM’s extensive media arts collection includes the archive of artist Nam June Paik, and in December the museum will present an exhibition of the video artist’s pioneering work. “There is a very American story here. Innovation is at the heart of creativity,” says Mansfield of the upcoming exhibition. “This is the language that artists are going to be using as we move into the future.” For his part, Mansfield plans to remain an integral part of that dialogue. “I have no plans to leave DC,” he jokes, “even though I have the gas money now.”
Renowned on the international club circuit for his DJ skills—DirtyHands is his moniker—Washington native Charles Koch has established himself as a sought-after curator of DC’s nightlife scene. Drink-and-dance types are eagerly awaiting the opening of his latest venture, Dupont Circle’s Heist. Not wanting to reveal too much about the nightclub before the curtain rises sometime this month, Koch describes the theme in vague terms (“Oceans 11—[and] a lot of gold”), but says the vibe will be much more subdued than its ornate trappings—and the growing local buzz—may suggest. “We want to bring back that more intimate nightlife experience,” he explains. “Being nice counts. The whole thing about people thinking they are cooler than everyone else, that’s over.” Koch, who first drew a following behind the decks at Dream and later with the opening of Fly Lounge six years ago, recognizes that DJs can make or break a club fairly quickly, so he is hell bent on keeping Heist’s music stable in order. Today anyone with an iPod can play mix master—but, he maintains, “you can have DJ Jazzy Jeff’s hard drive and still be… terrible.”
THE INDEPENDENT ACE
It’s hard to find one facet of DC’s arts community that Adrian Loving hasn’t yet touched. For the better part of a decade, the Prince George’s County native has played DJ (he spun records at Reuters’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner afterparty this year), art professor (Howard and Marymount Universities), graphic designer, and even curator (The Downtown Scene NY Film Series 2011). Loving’s former gallery space/ design studio, Dissident Display, served as an incubator for other creative types, among them local performance artist Holly Bass.
But the always-moving bon vivant, a self-described “independent when it comes to the arts,” wants to add one more title to his résumé: director. Loving is laying the groundwork for his directorial debut, a documentary film with the working title Sonic Roots, about experimental electronic music, which will take him on a journey across the globe for the next three years. Interviews and research have already started, he says. “Now is the time for me to consolidate my interests and get people talking—to create a platform to encourage or create a new dialogue,” Loving muses. “I feel like I need to do something big.”
Coat ($1,995) and sweater ($595), Ports 1961. Duncan jean, Elie Tahari ($198). Bloomingdale’s, 5300 Western Ave., Chevy Chase, 240-744-3700. Cashmere scarf, Loro Piana ($875). Neiman Marcus, Mazza Gallerie, 202-966-9700.
In Washington power largely remains a commodity traded by politicians and other players in the legislative process. But for one award-winning Arena Stage fellow, positing ideas in front of one of the most important crowds on earth gives him a special kind of influence. “I may not be able to change the world, but I can affect the people who do,” says Charles Randolph-Wright, recalling the long list of DC VIPs—cabinet appointees and members of Congress included—who filled seats at the Fichandler Stage to see last year’s production of Ruined, a play he directed that addressed the plight of women in the Congo. Randolph-Wright, a South Carolina native who will soon direct the Broadway debut and world premiere of Motown: The Musical, the much-anticipated show chronicling the life and times of Berry Gordy, says he has gained a new perspective from working inside the Beltway. “Someone once told me that art is the salve that heals all wounds,” he says. “We are polarized as a country… but art can be a boundary breaker. [I see that] you must have an arts scene, or else you always end up in one frame of mind. What [once] felt like an alternative now feels like a necessity.”
THE MANE MAN
Stylist and Toka Salon owner Nuri Yurt presides over what could be described as an empire of hair. With four bustling locations under his direction—two in Washington, including his Georgetown flagship, one in Alexandria, and one in New York City—the Turkey native travels the East Coast to cater to the styling needs of VIPs, from business executives and news anchors to members of Congress. In fact, Yurt, who settled in DC more than 20 years ago, says he specializes in coiffing the too-often-analyzed hair of powerful political figures and their spouses. Over the years his client roster has included countless elected officials as well as FLOTUSes such as Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush. Today his goal remains the same as it did when he first started styling: to craft low-profile looks that exude professionalism. Yurt says he’s kind but honest with clients, and he often serves as the voice of reason for those seeking a style update. “I offer real advice,” he quips. If people want to make a drastic change, he asks, “Are you ready for people to say, ‘Wow!?’” Many times, he chuckles, the answer is no.
Coat ($3,795) and pullover ($750), Loro Piana. Neiman Marcus, Mazza Gallerie, 202-966-9700. Shirt, Ralph Lauren ($165). The Collection at Chevy Chase, 301-718-4223. Pants, glasses, belt, and watch, Nuri’s own
Vision, customer service, and style. These are the cornerstones of Luigi Parasmo’s (LEFT) image-making business. A longtime DC resident, hairstylist, and co-owner (along with partner Javier Calvo) of his eponymous Georgetown salon, Parasmo presides over an in-demand styling gallery—appointments often book up three months in advance. From his perch, Parasmo says, he has watched as Washington’s most powerful denizens have bettered their collective appearance. “People are getting it right and taking care of themselves,” he asserts. “Even in the worst part of the recession, women did not stop doing their hair.” While DC style has come a long way, he maintains there are still lessons to be mastered. The District’s men especially could use a little more schooling on how to choose a flattering (read: modern) cut or how to dress in tailored clothes. “The guys still need help,” Parasmo quips. His advice? “Get rid of sneakers with suits” and what he calls “clownish” colors. Wear what really fits and… “just be yourself.”
Brooks leather jacket ($1,098), Elie Tahari. Tysons Galleria, McLean, 571-765-3396. Patrick knit, Elie Tahari ($98). Bloomingdale’s, 5300 Western Ave., Chevy Chase, 240-744-3700. Pants and belt, Parasmo’s own
THE REBEL CHEF
In the post-recession world of DC dining, many restaurateurs and chefs claimed to be culinary rebels—throwing out haute cuisine standards or flashing bad-boy personas with arms full of tattoos. More than a few toques quickly burned out after burning up their white tablecloths, but amid the ashes stands David Guas (RIGHT). From his Arlington café, Guas revels quietly in the authenticity of his down-home concept. “[Bayou Bakery Coffee Bar & Eatery] was more about doing something from my roots rather than just something labeled New American,” says the New Orleans native. Guas, Harley-riding and heavily inked, has been a stalwart in DC’s culinary community since landing in the kitchen of DC Coast in the late ’90s. He opened BB in November 2010 and has been cranking out Southern delicacies ever since. Engaging in friendly rapport with his regulars, many of them Gulf Coast natives, is what keeps him going. “I feel like I can walk into New Orleans every day; I’m connected to them through earnest, honest food.”
by sarah schaffer | October 8, 2012 | People
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BOBBY BRUDERLE; styling by tara papanicolas
August 29, 2018