The WASP or prep in Los Angeles is a rare creature. There is no defined river to attract rowers nor ivy covered stone buildings that have been here since the late 18th century, no Western version of the Kennedys or slaves to Brooks Brothers: the West coast WASP is a myth, although traces of their next generation can be seen lurking around North Los Feliz and the Southern border of Hancock Park, before Wilshire. Last night we had the opportunity to step into a window of the culture, a WASP nest if you will, for the Los Angeles release of Clairborne Swanson Frank‘s book American Beauty, held at the gasp worthy residence of interior designer Ruthie Sommers.
The book is a look at American women shot by Frank in their space, in their style, showing off their personality and beauty in a very straightforward manner. You have profiles of women that range from Erin Fetherston to Bonnie Morrison to Joanna Hillman to Lake Bell to Vanessa Getty to Lauren Bush Lauren to Jenna Lyons. It captures these beautiful, successful women with these little profiles of them with no frills and no fuss: just them being them in their place. You also get quite a tour of the United States and careers, as you have everything from dancers to brand heads to wine makers.
One of the persons profiled is Sommers, who hosted the party at her house. Good god: the house was like stepping into a museum of beauty and elegance and decadence and delight and New England realness. It was like you entered into some sort of warp that launched you from Los Angeles to Providence. There were red rooms covered in silver and mirrors, a set dinner table for over ten people that no one would sit at, a full gold bar for looking at (not touching!), hidden doors behind wall murals, paintings of Indian countryside and plant life that may or may not have been done by John James Audubon, and even a pool where guests could grab a cocktail, wander around the courtyard, and even pet Sommers’ friendly little dachshund. It was truly out of this world and was one of those environments that are so nice you feel like you are in a church–not a house.
The crowd at the event certainly matched the book and the location, all men in suits and ties and women in beautiful cocktail dresses. It was as if they flew in a bunch of legacy alumni of Georgetown University and told them to hang out and talk for a while: no one looked “Angeleno” (and, those who did, were very aware that they did). The event attracted a lot of the “beauties” in the book and preppy socialites, not to mention Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (AKA, “the Winklevii”) who slipped in the side of the place as we were leaving.
It was a fabulous look into this world we otherwise would never get to see and, really, were skeptical even existed in Los Angeles. But, judging from my choice to wear my trademark mustard yellow shorts and a chambray shirt, we obviously are no match to fit in with the Los Angeles WASPs despite claims that we think we can. Nevertheless, it was a nice peek through a very intimidating looking glass, one that is so pretty and perfect that you just can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable being so close to, out of a fear that you may blemish them.