Meet DC's Three Women of Style

Kristen Schott | September 9, 2019 | People

Our annual Women of Style accolades are bestowed on these three DC fashionistas.

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Dress purchased in Miami; earrings by Sophie Blake New York; bag by Vera Bradley; tights by Calzedonia. Shot on location at Q Place Condominiums, 43 Quincy Place NW, Unit 2, on the market for $1.149 million; and Stone Hill, 1345 K St. SE, on the market for $1.129 million; both represented by Urban Pace, a Long & Foster Company, urbanpace.com

BAILLE BENEMELIS

As the head of Fashion Group International DC, she’s taking the nonprofit in a glam new direction.

You either love them or hate them—trends, that is. And Baille Benemelis says she’s a sucker for them. “One should always have their own signature style,” notes the petite stylista. “But trends offer inspiration.” This mentality is why Benemelis is the regional director of Fashion Group International DC (fgidc.org) and why she has a vision for its future. Growing its membership is a priority. And her top trend? Fringe: “I can’t get enough!” Her style shifts from edgy to ultrafeminine. “I love creating experiences with purposes that inspire.” (She’s also the senior marketing specialist at SHRM.) Something that inspired her early on was her grandmother’s sparklers. “[When] I visited... I would have my grandmother bring out all of her jewelry.” Her opal ring was passed down to Benemelis for her wedding (she and hubby Victor live in Virginia). But she’s coveting baubles by Nak Armstrong. “His pieces are delicate, but make a statement,” she says. Then there’s the silk embroidered cami by Ted Baker she likes for its versatility. Or the high-waisted wide-leg pants she calls her power piece. For a gala, it’s all about ultraglam and unexpected. She shops at Mosaic District, where she can get such unique items—at Sophie Blake New York, Park Story, Kaleidos. Naturally, she supports DC’s fashion community and other women. “Don’t keep your style tricks and favorite shops a secret,” she says. “And compliment other women when they look good. That could give them confidence for the entire day.”


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Dress by Valentino; watch by Patek Philippe; heels by Aquazzura.

MARLA BECK

Bluemercury may be turning 20, but this beauty maven is only getting started.

She needs no introduction—but we’ll give her one anyway. Entrepreneur Marla Beck is the CEO and co-founder of Georgetown-based Bluemercury (bluemercury.com), which she started with husband Barry in 1999, and the co-founder of M61 Laboratories, the label behind M-61 Skincare and Lune+Aster Cosmetics. She’s always thinking about what’s next, “from sustainability in beauty and fashion to shifting habits and desires,” she notes. “I have to see the future.” It looks bright for the cosmetics firm; it fetes 20 years this month. “I am proud to be the leader of a company that is 94% women.” She spends time advising female up-and-comers; her style advice might be to be authentic. Beck is an example: She’s true to what works for her. “I love a good uniform,” shares the mother of three—10 black silk blouses for summer, 10 for winter. Eight of the same Veronica Beard pants, a selection of tailored frocks, a handful of black pantsuits. She favors streamlined dresses that don’t wrinkle when you pack them (she travels often: Bluemercury has 188 stores in 30-plus states), like those by Victoria Beckham, McQueen, Gucci, Roland Mouret. (House of Cards’ Claire Underwood is a style icon: “The monotone tailored looks bring out her amazing features.”) Yet pieces tug at her heartstrings. A men’s vintage Patek tuxedo watch, for one. “Barry and I found it... in Boston: I can wear it with any outfit, and no one else has it.” And her custom Valentino trimmed in leather, purchased on a family trip to Rome: “The detail is a testament to Italian craftsmanship,” she says. “I hope my daughters keep it someday.”


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Jumpsuit by SemSem; custom diamond-drop earrings; bag and shoes by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

KRISTIN CECCHI

The co-chair of the National Portrait Gallery’s gala is making a statement.

What do you wear to a gala in which Anna Wintour is among the honorees, and presenters include James Corden and Michelle Obama? Kristin Cecchi is grappling with that as she preps for the Nov. 17 American Portrait Gala (npg.si.edu/gala). But she won’t have a problem—as a sixth grader, she kept a journal to record what she wore every day. “I have always been into what I am putting on and why,” says Cecchi, a business owner (she is a merchant services consultant) who lives in Georgetown with husband John and their three kids. (She also consults on John’s residential projects in the town.) The bash, which celebrates the venue’s 50th year, is poignant. “When I moved to DC after college… my dream job was to work at one of the Smithsonians; instead, I worked at an advertising agency specializing in beauty. Co-chairing [the event] is an especially meaningful honor.” For the museum’s last two fashion fetes, she wore SemSem, by DC designer Abeer Al Otaiba, wife to the UAE ambassador. “SemSem is inspired by the bond between mothers and daughters; it’s a ‘collection with a conscious,’” says Cecchi. It’s a testament to her spiritual side; she focuses on what matters through meditation and prayer. (She treasures her engagement ring; it was her husband’s great-grandmother’s, and they eventually will give it to their children.) She balances that out with her passion for style—she loves clean lines with something unexpected, like a white tux instead of a dress for a black tie. The metallic gold Bottega Veneta The Pouch clutch is on her wish list. And she has a style tribe—Alexa Johnson (Ella Rue), Jeff Banks (Intermix), Rachel Grinney (Wylie Grey), Rebecca Jahangeri (Saks Fifth Avenue). As for that gala? Prabal Gurung is the honorary designer—we can’t wait to see what she wears.



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Photography by: Greg Powers; Baille Benemelis: MAKEUP BY SARAH KHAN, KINGSLEY MODEL + TALENT MANAGEMENT; ON-SITE HAIR BY ISABEL AZOCAR, IAN MCCABE STUDIO, WEST END; ON-SITE MAKEUP BY CREATIVE HAIR & MAKEUP DESIGN BY PERRY WARREN; SHOT ON LOCATION AT Q place CONDOMINIUMS; Marla Beck: air by Maria Grigoropoulos, MG Studios at Sola Salons, Rockville, md.;
makeup by bluemercury expert Virginia Meyers; SHOT ON LOCATION AT stone hill; Kristin Cecchi: sTYLING BY REBECCA JAHANGERI, SAKS FIFTH AVENUE, CHEVY CHASE, MD.; HAIR BY CARLOS COLARES, GLAMSQUAD; MAKEUP BY SIMRAN KAUR; ON-SITE HAIR BY ISABEL AZOCAR, IAN MCCABE STUDIO, WEST END; ON-SITE MAKEUP BY TRACEY GARCIA; SHOT ON LOCATION AT Q place CONDOMINIUMS