Saturday, December 19, 2009
Oprah Isn't The Only One Visiting The White House...First Designers: David Paul and Nick Verreos of NIKOLAKI, stand in front of The White House Two weeks ago, as you may remember, I flew to Washington DC to do my Corcoran Lecture. Thank Goodness I was there right before this current Winter Snow Storm which has shut down the Nation's Capital. It was a gorgeous (yet chilly) 50 degrees, and I didn't even have to get the gloves out or wear my Marc Jacobs "Frozen Tundra" fur-lined parka coat. I was only there for three days (one to arrive, one for the event and the other to fly back home), but my hosts had a special surprise the morning of my Corcoran Appearance: A Private Tour of The White House!!! Well, David and I just about couldn't control ourselves the morning of. We were giddy with excitement and the anticipation. Thank God we passed those background checks (wink wink!).White House Crashers: Nick Verreos and David Paul pose with their hosts and White House Tour Mates Both David and I got a bit dressed up and I'm glad we did because when we arrived at the Gates, everyone else was well dressed too. I don't know if it is required but it seemed as if the Invite would say "Dress in 'Interview' attire, Please." Our hosts who joined us were the lovely Norine Fuller and Jacqueline Perrottet from the FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising DC office plus the man who procured the private tour, Matt Shepard (he went to school with a White House "insider"). Also joining us were Jim Johnson, Jenny Hart and their friend, the very fun and vibrant Sarah Fraser, an anchor from HOT 99.5 as well as a correspondent for the Washington DC NBC station.Nick Verreos as Michaele Salahi at the White House--and the Salahi's in the same room Our tour began on the first floor as we entered a long hallway and made ourselves to the VERY ROOM where the infamous "White House Party Crashers", the Salahi's, were photographed. Of course, I screamed at David to find a camera and take a photo of me, as if I was waiving to the Party Paparazzi. JFK Portrait, The White House As we made it in past this room, we entered an area with portraits of the First Ladies near the East Room. we spotted current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's portrait (love the pantsuit!). This one's for you, Dad: Nick Verreos poses in front of Ronald Reagan Portrait We then walked past the US President's Portraits, including the famous pensive one from John F. Kennedy, as well as Ronald Reagan (my father's favorite!). Of course, I had to pose in front of that one to make my dad smile.The Blue Room Christmas Tree Continuing our tour, we walked into the fabulous Blue Room, home to the White House Christmas Tree. The tree was IMMENSE and featured lots of large round ornaments done in Decoupage style. Each ornament was created by Americans from across the country. It was such a treat to view The White House during the Holiday Season.Adjacent to the Blue Room, was the Red Room (see above) which has been used, especially by former First Ladies, as a meeting room and a parlor room. I loved the rich vivid Cabernet red shades in this room as well as the elegant portraits on its walls.Next we entered the State Dining Room (see above) of the White House, where President Abraham Lincoln's portrait resides. Traditionally, our most gracious (and patient) tour guide, Jenny Botero told us, this is used for buffets and dinners (therefore the "State Dining Room" title naturally). Yummy White House: The Bill Yosses-designed white chocolate and marzipan confection Another highlight of this room was the great marzipan and white chocolate White House confection designed by pastry chef Bill Yosses. Part of the White House "cake" is cut out to show an inner view of the State Dinner Room where this creation sits! Notice the Presidential dog, Bo, in the front. Speaking of food, our guide then took us to the "basement" where we somehow ended up by the Presidential Kitchen. I'm HER biggest fan: Nick Verreos and White House Executive Chef, Cristeta Comerford As we passed by, we spotted Executive White House Chef, Cristeta "Cris" Comerford. She was appointed by First Lady Laura Bush as the first female White House Chef back in 2005 and the Obama's kept her (very smart!). As we walked into the kitchen and I began to introduce myself, she exclaimed "I know you! You're Nick from Project Runway...I'm a big fan!". Needless to say, I could have ended the tour right then and there. I LOVE HER!! I can't believe she was verklempt over me! I couldn't even talk (a rarity) with the respect and admiration I had for her! Flower Power: Nick Verreos inside The White House Floral Design Room Refrigerator After the kitchen, we stopped by the flower design room and I actually went into the floral refrigerating room and took a peek at the most beautiful roses and floral arrangements that will eventually decorate the various rooms of The White House. I also dished with the floral designers about my hardships making a dress out of flowers and plants on my season of Project Runway. At this point, we ended the tour by stopping by the secret "White House Store" and actually purchasing some can-only-be-bought-here items such as cuff links, golf balls and tee shirts. David and I felt so privileged to have received this tour and an "inside peek" into one of the most famous houses in the world.