Monday, October 22, 2012

Drybar opens on Bethesda Row

A giant Buttercup, Drybar's mascot, on Bethesda Avenue
Drybar owner Alli Webb
(all photos taken by Karen Watkins)
Bar menu

On Saturday I was lucky enough to get my hair styled at Bethesda's new Drybar, which features a shampoo and blowout for $40. I also got to meet the fabulous Alli Webb, who came up with the concept two years ago as a stay-at-home mom. Now, she plans on having 26 locations by the end of the year. The Bethesda site is No. 18.

A former stylist, Webb wanted some "adult time" while staying home with her two boys. She advertised at-home $40 blowout services on "mommy" blogs and websites, and soon couldn't keep up with demand. She opened a space so clients could come to her, and thus, the first Drybar was born in Brentwood, Ca.

"Women don't want to pay $70 for a blowout from their regular stylist," she says. "Plus, then if they decide you need a cut and color, you could end up paying $300."

The Bethesda location is one of the biggest, according to publicist Barbara Martin of BrandlinkDC.  The pretty, feminine setting is done in all-white with signature yellow accents and chick flicks playing on a widescreen TV.  The sleek white blowdry bar stretches around the room with decanters of spa water, iPhone ports and magazines within reach. There is also a private party area and a shampoo room with comfy padded sinks. Most notable: the chandelier made of yellow Conair dryers.

Growing up in a business-oriented family gave Webb a business sense at a very early age. "My parents had a retail clothing store for older women in Boca Raton [Fla.]", she says. "They taught me about customer service." She said her father had about eight or nine chairs set up for their customers' husbands. "He would go out and bring them all bagels," she told me.

Drybar is also a family affair. Her brother Michael is the CEO and marketing whiz, while husband Cameron is the creative genius behind the branding and web design. You couldn't miss mascot Buttercup, the signature yellow blowdryer, parked outside for the opening.

The bar menu features six different styles: the signature Straight Up, the Mai Tai, Cosmopolitan,  Southern Comfort, Manhattan or the  kid-friendly Shirley Temple. I've never been able to manage a blow-dryer with any finesse and came out loving my "Mai-Tai" do. My stylist, Julie, who was in town from California, talked with me first about what I wanted and set to work. First the shampoo, then the style. Alli is definitely right when she says: "it always looks better when somebody else does it."  The whole experience was relaxing and my hair looked fantastic. Call or book appointments online. When I was in, the place was packed.
Celebrating my fab hair in the party room

All stations were buzzing on opening weekend

How cool is this? Vintage Conair chandelier


Monday, March 19, 2012

Andy Cohen brings the mazel to Bethesda's Front Row

Bravo's Andy Cohen's new book,
Most Talkative
The 411 on Bethesda’s Front Row fashion show:
Bravo’s Andy Cohen will be the three-day event’s VIP guest
It’s official: The date’s been set for Bethesda’s fourth annual Front Row fashion event—Thursday through Friday, May 19-21. And this year, Fashion show Friday's VIP guest is reality show master Andy Cohen, an executive producer at Bravo TV in charge of all of those Real Housewives as well as host of the network’s offbeat talk show, Watch What Happens Live. Front Row VIPs in previous years include publicist and author Kelly Cutrone and fashion designer Christian Siriano.

The Front Row kicks off Thursday, May 19, with the Washington premiere of God Save My Shoes, an appropriately fashionable documentary exploring the enigmatic relationship between women and their footwear. The eclectic cast includes celebrities as well as design luminaries Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik. Friday night is a live runway fashion show including Bethesda Row boutiques Ginger, Luna, Wear It Well, Sassanova and Urban Chic.

Saturday, May 21 brings style to the kiddies with their own special fashion event. All three days will be filled with sales, trunk shows and special events. Though this is what’s on tap so far, there may be more in the works. Please check the website for updates.  All events are free and open to the public, though some may require RSVPs.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Meeting Vicky Tiel

Coffee and book talk with Vicky Tiel  at Cosi, Bethesda 
Last fall I got to interview fashion designer Vicky Tiel whose trendsetting designs caught the eye of Elizabeth Taylor and other Hollywood icons of the '60s including Ursula Andress and Kim Novak She also designed costumes for movies including "What's New Pussycat" and "Pretty Woman".

I was just a little daunted when she suggested a sit-down at Cosi in Bethesda. I soon discovered there was no need.

She couldn't have been more warm and ingratiating.  A sharp businesswoman, Tiel was driven to live her life exactly how she envisioned it. "I was born to make dresses," she told me. And she still does. Just yesterday I saw one of her gowns on a show on Bravo. I'm convinced that's why at 68, she still has a youthful twinkle in her eye, a big sense of fun and a terrific sense of style. She was influenced by photographer Irving Penn and during a time of frill and fuss, went for spare, clean lines in her designs.

I already felt like I knew her because I'd done my homework and read her recent book, It's All About the Dress, which reveals so much of her. We talked about men, friendship, sex, growing up in Chevy Chase in the '60s, being a cheerleader, sex, being a geisha, men (read the book). We tried on coats down the street at Snowimage.

Now she's happily married to a (younger) man (remember, "geisha") and creating gowns for the Home Shopping Network. She still has her shop, Vicky Tiel, in Paris. Needless to say, I took in every word, eager to absorb the atmosphere around a woman who manages to retain her youthful energy, power, sexuality and creativity at age 68. Rock stars do it. Vicky does, too. 
Read more from my interview with Vicky Tiel in the Shop Talk column in the January/February issue of Bethesda Magazine. 

Vicky drawing a sketch in my book 
Book signing