Beyond my "Sightseeing Day" of visiting the Washington and Lincoln Monuments as well as taking far away snapshots of the White House, not to mention my lengthy all-day excursion to the Smithsonian Museum, the main purpose of my once-in-a-lifetime visit to Washington DC was to host the California State Society and FIDM's Presidential Inaugural Luncheon as well as Fashion Show. As part of the fashion show, I was going to show a selection from my most recent NIKOLAKI Spring 2009 Collection. While I was designing the collection, many months ago, I found out that I was being invited to Washington D.C. for this event and decided to design a group of gowns around famous US First Ladies. However, because of the secrecy surrounding this event, I couldn't say so at the time--until now.Welcome to DC Baskets: Nick Verreos in his hotel room
The night I arrived into DC--after a whole day of traveling cross-continent--I was greeted by the most INCREDIBLE basket of goodies and a GORGEOUS bouquet of roses and balloons waiting for me in my hotel room. I just about died and went to Champagne-Cookies-and-Obama Pin heaven! My gracious hosts at the California State Society were responsible for this "Welcome" and I had to capture a photo of it. Both David and I tried to pick up the one "Goodie Basket" and our non-Gym-Bunny bodies almost broke our backs! It was a wonderful way to arrive into DC.Nick and his First Ladies: Saturday Press Meet-and-GreetThe Saturday prior to the event, we held a "Press Meet-and-Greet". Various journalists, writers and reporters of local websites and newspapers, including the Washington Times, were invited to preview the gowns which I would be showing on the runway. As I noted previously, these gowns were loosely inspired by First Ladies. They included Martha Washington, Dolley Madison, Louisa Adams, Mary Todd Lincoln, Jacqueline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama. My designs were modeled by the most gorgeous Washington DC-based models, who originated from far-flung places such as Uganda, Poland, Russia, and even New Jersey!
In my press "Meet-and-Greet", I explained to the press to first of all "suspend their belief" of how they remember most of these First Ladies, especially Mrs. Washington, Madison and Lincoln. I wanted to "re-invent" them, fashion-wise. This was my "Nick Verreos Make-Over" of how I would see these famous women in 2009! For example, in my research, I discovered that Mary Todd Lincoln was probably the first Fashionista and loved to shop, therefore I designed a very "high fashion" gown with an impressive back cascade and directional one-shoulder strap detail. Nick and the "Luisa Adams"-inspired silk chiffon sequined gown
Where's The Presidential Ball? David Paul and Nick Verreos pose backstage with their "First Lady" models
Finally, for Michelle Obama, I was inspired by her tall statuesque frame and love of color. Mrs. Obama has such strong shoulders, I created a strapless architectural fitted gown in a candy-apple red. As we know now, she chose a full-skirted one shoulder design by 24-old NY-based designer Jason Wu. Of course, I have to admit, I kind of like my design just a little better...Pep Talk: Nick Verreos thanking the Dressers backstage at the Ritz Carlton Ballroom
The event, which took place the Sunday before Inaugural Tuesday at the very exclusive Ritz Carlton Washington DC, was a complete success. I wore my Marc Jacobs suit with a fabulous Tarina Tarantino "Lady Liberty" pin which she designed especially for the Inaugural. Notable guests included California Senator Diane Feinstein, as well as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Former S.F. Mayor, the always stylish Willie Brown, and many others. Nick and Leanne: Nick Verreos posing with models in Leanne Marshall's Project Runway Finale CollectionAfter they enjoyed their lunch and some wine and champagne, guests were "good-and-ready" for the fashion show, which besides my 9 First Lady Gowns, included the designs of FIDM's Advanced Study Fashion Design and Theater Costume students as well as an exclusive showing of Project Runway Season 5 Winner Leanne Marshall's Finale Bryant Park Collection, which was bought by the school through the Bravo Website Auction. I had an amazing time hosting as well as meeting all the guests and taking photos with them-- I ran into many people that were present at the Luncheon/Fashion Show at various Inaugural parties days later and they all felt compelled to stop me to say how fabulous the event was and how much they loved my "hosting" of the show...Ahhhhh, that really made my week in DC!!!!! Below are four great articles about the Luncheon and Fashion Show--as well as my First Lady-inspired Gowns: Click HERE for an article on Washington DC's RollCall.com site Click HERE for an LA Times.com article Click HERE for the COVER STORY featured in the Washington Times Click HERE for an article on Style.gay.com Click HERE for a great article at the Washingtonian.com