WASH January 2018
Feature Best Of DC
Our best-of-the-city list is different than most, and it shows: We’ve curated the finest luxur y ideas and diversions in the cit y for 2018. Get ready to indulge!
BEST LOCAL SHOE DESIGNER
When Christina Lombardi (christina-lombardi.com) moved to DC from New York City last year, she brought with her an incomparable style that combines the classics with a modern spin. Yes, she will create custom looks—she has happily designed wedding shoes—but it’s almost overkill since her designs are often so unique the wearer won’t likely see anything remotely similar at a crowded cocktail party. (Our fave: Maiolica tile, $465). Designed in DC and handcrafted in Italy, Lombardi’s creations are also comfortable. “It’s very important for me to strike the balance of glamour, fun and comfort,” she says. “Footwear should always empower women.”
BEST AMENITIES IN A NEW DEVELOPMENT
Living in Shaw has become its own little luxury, especially with the neighborhood’s restaurant boom. And now, 880P—from Roadside Development and Bozzuto, the same team that delivered the hip City Market at O residences—arrives with a bolt of design smarts and amenities we love. We got an up-close-and-personal look at the space during a recent party, and we’re here to say this is one of the finest new developments for putting residents’ needs first. To wit: Private balconies with indoor-outdoor fireplaces, DC’s largest rooftop with a lounging waterfall, a dog park fit for canine royalty and a music room that would fit in nicely at The Kennedy Center. Two- bed/ two-bath units from $3,850, 880 P St. NW, 202.715.1167, citymarketato.com
BEST AT-HOME SPIN
The brains behind Flywheel know their legion of fans can’t make it to class every day—and winter presents its own set of hindrances. So, the brand behind the luxe sweat studio recently introduced a bicycling system for home known as Fly Anywhere. Bonus: Flywheel faithful use the bike in conjunction with a live-streaming source—world-class instructors in New York City, using Method and Power training rides—which means workouts don’t get missed when it’s 15 degrees and sleeting. The bike boasts a flex frame, ergonomically designed handlebars, Bluetooth technology and a front-and-center Torq knob for quick resistance changes. Bike system $1,698, monthly class subscription $39, 829 Ninth St. NW, flywheelsports.com
BEST OVER-THE-TOP SUSHI-TASTING MENU
Sit down at the small counter at Kobo.to indulge in the ultimate kappo experience, a traditional Japanese tasting prepared as you watch by the Tjan brothers, Piter and Handry. The 12- to 15- course dinner at the restaurant-withina- restaurant inside Friendship Heights f Sushiko is an exemplar of extravagance. A seemingly simple sandwich holds panko crusted A5 wagyu beef with a red rare core. Top winter catches fresh from Japan take center stage. Expect dishes like thin- sliced flounder with ponzu sauce, and monkfish liver pate complemented with yuzu jelly and persimmon puree. Even foie gras makes frequent appearances, perhaps seared in sushi or enriching a decadent panna cotta lavished with huckleberry caramel. Wed.-Thu., 7pm; Fri.-Sat., 6 and 8pm, $160 per person; vegan tasting menu, Mon.- Tue., 7pm, $130 per person; 5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, Md., 301.961.1644, kobo-sushiko.com
BEST BESPOKE TAILOR
Recently, a client walked into Sanjay Daswani’s shop and made a not-so-simple request: He wanted a winter driving jacket in cashmere to match his new Ferrari— and the lining needed to have vintage pictures of the Italian auto. “We made the jacket’s body in blue with a burgundy accent, and the buttons matched the car’s wood paneling,” says Daswani, owner of The Tailored Man in McLean, Va. “We finally managed to get the fabrics of the coat in Mongolian cashmere.” And the images of vintage Ferraris for the lining? Check. The cost: north of $4,000. This is typical Daswani magic, whether it’s for an exotic coat, custom suit or velvet jackets. All of his fabrics are imported, and the shop—which looks and feels like a regal English pub—obliges any sartorial whim. 1750 Tysons Blvd., Ste. 130, McLean, Va., tailoredman.com
MOST EXTRAVAGANT FACIAL
When one asks art curator and advisor Peggy Sparks what she likes when it comes to fine art, she doesn’t equivocate: The woman has a gallery to showcase her passions. From pop artist John Stango to internationally renowned photographer Fred Maroon, Sparks has the most diverse yet on-point eye in the city. The good news for companies and individuals who want to populate their offices and homes with beauty? Sparks’ talent is for hire. She believes in the commingling of personal taste and timeless imagery. Artist’s Proof Art Gallery & Consultancy, 1533 Wisconsin Ave.
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Yes, diamonds and gold do more than glitter on a wintry night. At the Four Seasons spa, the Gold and Diamond Facial is an exercise in antiaging and extravagance. Ultrasonic exfoliation and microcurrent therapy are featured in the phase one of treatment, followed by LED therapy to stimulate collagen production. The kicker: Take-home products to continue the anti-aging treatment include the Diamont de Beaute ($600) and Trio of Gold cream ($493). Facials have never looked so decidedly bling. 90 minutes for $465, Fri.-Sun., 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202. 342.0444, fourseasons.com/washington
MOST EXTRAVAGANT WHISKY EXPERIENCES
All nine whisky sibling duos at The Watergate Hotel’s The Next Whisky Bar (2650 Virginia Ave. NW, 844.617,1972, thewatergatehotel.com) are stellar, but one is a standout. For $500, lead mixologist Rachel Sergi pours an ounce of the rich Macallan M. It’s blended from seven barrels individually selected out of 195,000 in the Scotch producer’s vast cellar that were matured in oloroso sherry casks dating back to 1940. On Jan. 28, Rebellion (1836 18th St. NW, 202.299.0399, rebelliondc.com) hosts a once-in-a-lifetime pairing dinner, where 20 lucky guests—who pony up $1,250 each—will experience the full lineup of uber-rare Pappy van Winkle 10-, 12-, 15-, 20-, 23- and 25-year, and 25-year-old Rip van Winkle (of which only 710 bottles were ever made).
BEST PRIVATE-JET CHARTER TO NYC
When JetSmarter launched last year in the region, many in the DC business and lobbying communities were ecstatic. After all, the company’s members can use an app to book a seat on private charters to New York in a click. “There’s a huge demand for private jets in DC, and there’s a huge demand for private and first class,” says JetSmarter founder and CEO Sergey Petrossov, who counts stars like Gerard Butler as clients. “DC to New York is actually the most traveled heavy-jet market in the world.” The company also offers whole-aircraft charters out of Dulles, where clients take advantage of a private lounge and concierge. Passengers may choose to skip the airport lines and go straight to the tarmac via town car. It’s another perk of the gilded skies. Membership from $15,000, jetsmarter.com
MOST NOTORIOUSLY LUXE HOTEL SUITE
Don’t look for G. Gordon Liddy to approve, but everyone else will love the new Watergate Scandal Room 214. Cocreated by Emmy-winning costume designer Lyn Paolo from Scandal, the room captures the infamy of the property’s 1972 break-in that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation two years later. Paolo and Rachel Cohen, Watergate’s senior vice president of the design and development, included historic touches in the luxe space, including 1970s furniture, walls of news clippings, a typewriter and binoculars. And the views of the Potomac are stunning. $800, 2650 Virginia Ave. NW, 202.827.1600, thewatergatehotel.com
MOST SWOONWORTHY AFTERNOON TEA
Inspired by acclaimed Danish chef Rene Redzepi of Copenhagen’s groundbreaking restaurant Noma, garde manger chef Kiril Stavrev will offer Nordic Tea Saturdays and Sundays in January and February at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. For $68 per person, sample savory bites like bone- marrow fudge sandwiches, herb toast with turbot-roe emulsion and chicken-liver mousse with trumpet mushroom powder and a crispy potato nest, followed by sweets including apple goat- cheese galette and almond cake with kefir cream. The hotel’s curated selection of teas are used in cocktails like Hot Herbs, where mint tea is mixed with a shot of dill- and caraway-infused Absolut vodka; The Great White North, where anji white tea is served with a shot of Aquavit; and Garden, a chilled libation with blue garden tea and Finlandia vodka in a cocktail glass rimmed with lingonberry and bilberry powders. 1700 Tysons Blvd., McLean, Va., 703.506.4300, ritzcarlton.com
BEST PRIVATE TRAVEL ADVENTURES
Oh, how we love Jessica Pociask, founder of DC-based WANT Expeditions—she has mastered the perfect trips that blend luxury and legit adventure. Both National Geographic and the Travel Channel have lauded her private tours, and for good reason: They include everything from luxury helicopter harp-seal-pup encounters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence; French Subantarctic Island journeys; and mountain gorilla treks in Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga. For each adventure, think private chef, exclusive accommodations, distinguished wildlife researchers and guides, and award-winning photographers hanging out to record every magical thing that happens. And if Pociask isn’t the most insightful, intrepid and happiest person you’ll meet this year, we want to meet your friends. “Every day, I never cease to be amazed by the fact that I’ve manifested my dreams in reality,” she says. $1,000-$5,000 per day, wantexpeditions.com
BEST MEMBERSONLY MEDISPA
When Dr. Arleen Lamba recently opened the third branch of her fabulous medispa Blush at The Wharf, Washingtonians sang to the heavens. Lamba has created a venue that features VIP face- and body-beautif ying treatments like facials, wrinklesmoothing laser sessions and stress-free chemical peels. The brilliant twist? Customers pay a monthly fee. “We’re trying to disrupt the industr y,” says Lamba. “So many of our customers don’t have a lot of time—or downtime —so coming in for tuneups is perfect for th em .” $70-$175 per month, 40 District Square SW, Ste. 215, 877. 632. 5874 , blushmed.com
BEST BESPOKE FRAGRANCES
Walk into Le Labo at The Shay and become entranced by the very idea of buying a scent that will feel at once custom and incredibly memorable. Tradition perfume’s blaring top notes take an olfactory backseat to middle notes—known as the heart of fragrances—like a rich lavender or cardamom. They’re long-lasting and memorable, and this is the anti-perfumery mindset behind a brand led by co-founder Fabrice Penot. The small bottles that line the shop’s shelves list all of the ingredients of the scent, and, to ensure freshness, each bottle is made to order in front of you. There’s a cost for such extravagances (bottles can fetch up to $600), but the result is a bouquet of scented soul that remains smart and true. 1924 Eighth St. NW, Ste. 120, lelabofragrances.com
MOST INDULGENT MEAL
It’s $595 just to sit down at one of the two tables in the kitchen at The Inn at Little Washington. Each grants up to six diners the ultimate up-closeand- personal experience. “Guests said it felt like dinner and a movie, so we thought we’d play on that,” says chef Patrick O’Connell. Accordingly, meals begin with red-and-white-striped carnival boxes brimming with popcorn, topped off with a snowfall of freshly grated truffles. It’s the first of a flurry of decadent amuse-bouches preceding the intensely indulgent tasting menu. Choose between an ever-changing array of classic dishes, contemporary innovations and vegetarian options. In the cold-weather months, the chef takes advantage of the fireplace, where he likes to roast whole truffles in the embers. Generous shavings are served over a salad of wintry greens, which accentuates their heady fragrance and earthy richness. It’s decadence incarnate, which is O’Connell’s specialty. 309 Middle St., Washington, Va., 540.675.3800, theinnatlittlewashington.com
BEST CUSTOM FURNITURE DESIGNER
For his new collection for Baker Furniture, the crown prince of elegant aesthetics, DC’s own Thomas Pheasant (thomaspheasant. Com) says he was inspired by artists like Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly and Tony Smith. Their “modern works speak to beauty through simplicity of form,” says Pheasant, who has now done five collections for Baker (3330 M St. NW, bakerfurniture. Com). “I worked with remarkable ateliers in Florence, Milan and here in the United States to oversee all aspects of the collection,” he says. “The result of attention to every detail, finish and the imaginative use of materials helped me bring a unique sense of luxury to each one of these sculptural forms.” Much of what Pheasant creates is custom, and he’s even launched STUDIO (thomaspheasantstudio. Com), which is his collection’s limited and custom furnishings.
HOTTEST WATERFRONT PROPERTY ON THE MARKET
With unmatched views of the South River—which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay—this impeccably renovated historic home in Edgewater, Md., is a perfect example of a getaway that could double as a permanent residence. After all, it’s a mere hour from downtown DC. The home boasts five bedrooms, 6 1⁄2 baths, a waterside pool and a guesthouse. It also features gorgeous gardens and a sloping lawn leading to 850 feet of private waterfront and a deepwater pier. $6,200,000, 36 Shadow Point Court; listing agent, Georgeann Berkinshaw, 443,994.4456, coldwellbankerluxury.Com/property/36-shadow-point-court
BIGGEST SOCIAL EVENT OF THE SEASON
During a gala season that boasts a bevy of crescendos, the Heart Ball is one that makes the philanthropic community’s collective chests flutter. Held at the Mandarin Oriental on the Southwest waterfront, this stunning affair brings together the region’s medical, corporate and community leaders to continue the fight against heart disease in our region and the United States —all through raising money for research and programs that lead to healthier lives. Bonus: The party is absolutely a roof-raiser, which is just what the doctor ordered in the middle of winter. Feb. 24, tickets $1,000, table for 10 $15,000, dcheartball.com
MOST EXCLUSIVE DESIGNER
There are many things we love about architect and designer Deborah Kalkstein—including her modern flair for impeccable lines in every space she creates—but perhaps our favorite is the ability to see her curatorial style every day in Georgetown. She’s the woman behind Contemporaria in Georgetown’s Cady’s Alley. Venture into her lush lair to see the latest in European designs (think Italian brands like Minotti and MDF Italia)—much of which will end up in the next exquisite spaces she designs for VIP clients. Kalkstein is making DC even prettier, one imaginative room design at a time. 3303 Cady’s Alley NW, contemporaria.com
BEST LUXE GARAGE FOR WEEKEND DRIVES
Washingtonians with too many toys and a yearning for weekend cruises in the country now have a place to store their extras at a high-end garage on Main Street in Marshall, Va. Owned by Fauquier County Supervisor Holder Trumbo Jr.—who also has a half-dozen racing Porsches to his name—H&H Auto Garage provides climate-controlled storage and a la carte services—including light maintenance of luxury, antique and Sunday-driving cars—for those who’d rather not take their Ferraris down dirt roads to Hunt Country homes. “The horse people keep their horses out here, even if they live in town, because of the beautiful ride out of town,” Trumbo says. “This is a gathering place for people who are just as enthusiastic about automobiles.” $200 per month, 8382 West Main St., handhautogarage.com
BEST PRIVATE GIFT-BUYERS
Ashley Bronczek and Candace Ourisman have figured out something extraordinary about their friends—and now high-end strangers in DC: They often don’t have time to buy the perfect gift. The duo launched Secretly Gifting (secretlygifting.com) last year, and the entrepreneurs have the perfect eyes for one-of-a-kind items that are often difficult to find. (Think antique jewelry, vintage clothing, custom art and more). “We both have a love of traveling and a love of adventure,” says Ourisman. “It’s that curiosity—plus travel and culture immersion—that’s already a part of our lives, and it exposes us to new designers, new concepts and new retails spots.”
Imagine this, you wake up one morning about ten days prior to Breeders’ Cup World Championships, and read the following e-mail message: ‘you are going to be riding horseback on the beach in Del Mar, California with Breeders’ Cup Ambassador, Bo Derek to kick off the Festival week at Jake’s Fun Run 5K in Del Mar.”
DEL MAR, CA – OCTOBER 28: Breeders’ Cup Ambassador Bo Derek and members of the Grand Slam Social team wave to runners after leading the starters down the beach at the start of Jake’s 35th Annual Beach Fun Run and Breeders’ Cup Breeze Presented by San Diego Surf on October 28, 2017 at the beach in Del Mar, California. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)
Say… WHAT?! Talk about the most exciting moment ever! As a founder of Grand Slam Social (The official Breeders’ Cup Social Media team), myself and the other cofounders Shona Rosenblum and Molly McGill commenced the week by galloping oceanside with THE Bo Derek to start the Jake’s 5K Fun Run kicking off Breeders’ Cup 2017 week. Riding on Dog Beach was an experience of a lifetime.
Breeders’ Cup team participants at the Jake’s 5K Fun Run in Del Mar, California
Watching the horses prepare for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships during morning workouts, to exciting events like the Post Position Draw on the beach at Powerhouse Park, Taste of the World at the Birch Aquarium, and even just watching sunsets over the Del Mar Racetrack, every day was absolutely incredible. Our team had the opportunity to interview trainers, jockeys, owners, handicappers, and even the horses of Breeders’ Cup for social media. One of my favorite moments was going trick or treating through the barns of Del Mar with hall of fame jockey Jerry Bailey and host Randy Moss from NBC Sports.
The horses stuck with the healthy options from the treat department… Carrots, of course!
Del Mar Vibes
Breeders’ Cup Purple painted the town of Del Mar and #BC17 filled the atmosphere of the San Diego area with extreme equestrian enthusiasm. “Del Mar, its staff and the community of San Diego absolutely shone for this Breeders’ Cup,” said Joe Harper, president and general manager of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. The ‘Art of the Horse’ Breeders’ Cup life-size trophy replica horses (hand painted by local artists) built this buzz around the vicinity leading up to the Breeders’ Cup. These beautiful statues now will be auctioned off for Thoroughbred charities. I’m still looking for a place to put one in our front yard…
The Two Richest Days in Sports
Did you know: a total of $28 million dollars in purse money is distributed over the two days of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships? Saturday’s attendance was 37,692. The two-day attendance was 70,420. Common-pool wagering for the two days was $166,077,486, an increase of 5.9% over the 2016 total of $156,861,811. The total handle was the highest since the 2010 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs when there were two additional Breeders’ Cup races.
Fashion, Fascinators, and Fedoras
Breeders’ Cup Friday and Saturday are very specific days in horse racing for dressing up with style. The look is a classic elegance with an international influence. Breeders’ Cup Friday is very well known to showcase the signature Breeders’ Cup Purple in the outfits, while Breeders’ Cup Saturday is much more couture-inspired. Christine A. Moore Millinery fascinators and fedoras were spotted heavily throughout both days.
The Longines Prize of Elegance fashion show was very well attended both days. Carson Kressley sported a beautiful equestrian style sport coat on Breeders’ Cup Friday- such a STANDOUT! Take a look at some other fabulous looks we spotted throughout the weekend here below…
# 58 won Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Prize of Elegance.
Ashley Cline Cagle with Carson Kressley, sporting an equestrian style sport jacket for Breeders’ Cup Friday
Breeders’ Cup also launched luxury ‘Cheval’ collection for this year’s merchandise mix. From cashmere Peter Millar, accessories from Rebecca Ray and Atelier CG, Christina Lombardi Shoes, Christine A. Moore Millinery, the shopping was fantastic.
Even the shopping bags were brightly colored and illustrated with signature Breeders’ Cup branded icons. A keepsake!
Gun Runner Unloads in #BC17 Classic Victory
Although many wanted a repeat Breeders’ Cup performance from 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Arrogate, we saw an outstanding performance by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s, Gun Runner. He went right to the front shortly after the break and never trailed as he defeated Collected by 2 1/4 lengths to win the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday November 4. Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Florent Geroux, Gun Runner unloaded the 1 1/4 miles on a fast main track in 2:01.29.
Del Mar did a fantastic job hosting this year’s Breeders’ Cup. The fashion, food, atmosphere, shopping, horses, celebrities, truly wow’d my experience at “Where the Turf meets the Surf”. As I left this year’s event, I put on my Breeders’ Cup purple cap, turned in my rental car, and rode the bus to the airport. On my ride to the terminal, I met many fans, owners, and media boasting with joy from this year’s cup. The smiles, excitement, and #BC17 conversations continued throughout my journey back to Wellington, Florida.
All in all, it turned out to be a highly successful 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Churchill Downs has a lot coming their way next year— the standard has been set very high with Del Mar! Hoping to have the Breeders’ Cup back at Del Mar again real soon. Until then, you stay classy, San Diego.
Photo Gallery from the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships:
by Graham Pilotte
Horse racing is known as the Sport of Kings. With a field of sleek horses and hopeful crowds clenching their bets, race day continues to redefine its role in society. Evolving in sophistication while balancing an understanding of consumer trends, the Thoroughbred industry’s distinct parallels to the world of fashion extend far past the finish line. What was once your grandfather’s sport, a day at the track can now be considered an opportunity to show off one’s personal style. And while some may think “track style” is synonymous with “Derby hat” - 2017 Breeders’ Cup fashion partner, Christina Lombardi dares your to walk a furlong in the shoes of the racing industry’s feminine audience.
Chrissy (as she’s referred to) is the owner and designer of her namesake line which has seen quick success and growth since launching in 2016. Now just one year later, the young designer can add the title of official luxury footwear designer can add the title of official luxury footwear designer for Breeders’ Cup to her accolades. “Fashion has really become a see-and-be0seen aspect of Thoroughbred racing and being an official fashion partner of this year’s Breeders’ Cup is very special to me,” Lombardi says. Showcasing feminine lines and thoughtful details, Lombardi’s footwear has an approachable take on modern elegance. “My brand’s mission is to empower women to feel confident by providing them with accessible glamour.”
The New Jersey native’s passion for design started at a young age when family outings included afternoons frequenting Monmouth Park Racetrack in Ocean Park, New Juersy. “Decades ago my grandfather owned horses, which led to my dad’s interest in the sport and it trickled down from there,” Lombardi recalls, admitting to getting swept up in the excitement and nostalgia of America’s pastime. “No matter how big or how small the race, whether we had a horse running or not, we’d all head to the track as a family and make our way to the rail to cheer as loud as we could.” Those experiences, combined with a natural design aesthetic, have equipped Lombardi with a unique insight needed for designing women’s footwear in an industry still overwhelmingly male-dominated. “I have firsthand experience of what works and what women are looking for so they can focus on having fun and express themselves in a pair of stilettos without compromising comfort,” Lombardi asserts.
A quick scroll through her well-curated online showroom reveals thoughtful creations. Flattering lines, trendy textures, and up-to-date prints populate the website, paired with time-tested classics. From delicate sandals to studded flats, each design demonstrates careful work on an elegant product. “It’s really been fun to see my designs evolve over time,” Lombardi says. “Stylistically, I am taking more risks and introducing more custom and complicated components to my work - which, I hope, has helped broaden my clients’ interest. I think it’s very important, for every aspect of life, to be open to evolving as a person in whatever you do.” This can also be said for her approach to the business of fashion. Among other unique brand practices, Christina Lombardi footwear has adopted a post-luxury model approach to design by motion to release only a few styles every two or three months, which allows her to forego the strict seasonality that can sometimes limit designers int he world of retail.
Theses types of risks are balanced by Lombardi’s artistic sensibilities and a strong sense of the business she’s running. Understanding that brick-and-mortar stores are a relic of fashion retail’s past, instead, she has embraced the work of e-commerce by directly selling to her customers. By doing so, she avoids box box stores and is able to offer buyers luxury products at accessible prices. The product materials are sourced from, and made int the same factories as many of the high-end, powerhouse brands people are familiar with, but much more affordable because of this method. “We want to encourage women to take risks and have fun with fashion, without breaking the bank - or breaking a poorly-made heel,” Lombardi says.
For fashion enthusiasts seeking an affordable option for trendy footwear, effortless glamour and always-in-style comfort, Christina Lombardi might be the winning ticket. Most of all though, Lombardi urges confidence. “The best piece of advice that I can give anyone, is just do you,” she says. “Don’t feel like you need to wear something because that’s what’s on trend. There’s nothing worse than feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable at the track - or anywhere.” Instead, she says, choose an outfit that reflects your personal style. For her, that’s not always a dress: “My current go-to look for a day at the races is a pair of shorts or three-quarter pants, usually silk or patterned, with a simple tank top or crop top and matching blazer,” Lombardi describes. “Depending on the event or the venue where I’m going, I usually reach for my nude Angelina pumps. If I know I’m going to be walking around all day, like on are day, I’ll pull out the Sofias.”
While Lombardi’s top selections for event-specific activities roll off her tongue with ease, asking her to pick an overall design favorite presents more of a challenge. “As a new designer, you really become attached to each design as if it’s your own child.” Lombardi says with a laugh. However, if she had to choose one from her recent line, she looks no further than the classic Aria sandal. “Currently, I live in them.” As her designs continue to evolve in style and trends, she is also cognizant of how footwear rotates with the every-fluctuating weather. “I’m looking forward to my Kenzie II flats and Alessandras in the cooler months,” she recalls. “We spent a lot of time shifting the lines of Alessandra so that the end result is the most flattering version possible. The studding accents and color combinations give an added flair of edginess to this updated silhouette.”
Whether you’re headed to the track, traveling the country, or enjoying the comfort of your own home, there’s no better time than now to be fearless with fashion. Christina Lombardi footwear is a perfect place to start, since the brand seamlessly blends easy elegance and high-end style. “Now is the time to experiment with fashion and find what works for you, enjoy it. Take risks, do it up, and always wear a smile,” Lombardi says.
how this nj native created a line of affordably-priced luxury footwear that’s sold directly to consumers
by jessica jones-gorman photos by anne molnar photography
Christina Lombardi has always loved shoes—sparkly, spiky, round or pointed toes—and for years, amassed an impressive collection. But with each pair she envisioned more: a flirty cut-out here, a sexy ankle strap there.
So, after college and a few years in marketing and advertising, she decided she would launch her own shoe brand.
“I’ve always had a love for fashion and wanted to work in the industry,” Lombardi said. “So, with a lot of support and encouragement from my family and friends, I quit my job and enrolled in some courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.”
A few years later, she moved to Milan to study at Arsutoria, a world-famous fashion school that specializes in the design of footwear and handbags. Later, back in the States, she began studying the business of starting a footwear label.
“After some trial and error, I found a great factory outside Florence, Italy, put a great team in place, and was fortunate to launch my first collection in 2016,” she explained.
Her company, Christina Lombardi, creates footwear that blends ultra-feminine elegance with classic but unique silhouettes.
“My first collection was the toughest because these were my babies,” Lombardi said. “But over the past two years, the process has gotten easier as each collection rolls out.”
Still, the process is comprehensive: Each shoe is handcrafted in Italy. From design to sketching, prototyping, and production, every style is examined, tried, refined, and retried to create designs that appeal to a wide range of women. Lombardi uses only top-of-the-line materials and components, many of which are produced exclusively for her.
“Every pair of shoes is a special work of art,” she said. “The process from sketch to production is extremely labor-intensive and rigorous, so when the factory is hard at work developing my previous collection, I begin work on my next line—researching trends and new technologies and pinning to an inspiration board colors, materials, and patterns that inspire me. Over the years, I’ve built a catalogue of swatches and materials, and I go to trade shows to see what’s new. Then I begin sketching. Flats, heels, sandals, boots—whatever I envision wanting to wear—it just spills out.”
For Lombardi, a New Jersey native who as a little girl would dress up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz in a costume complete with ruby-red slippers, the idea of this business is still something of a dream come true.
“Growing up, I had a mannequin and a simple sewing kit in my room that I would play with, making dresses and embellishing shoes—just for fun,” Lombardi said. “I was also inspired by my grandmother, who was always fashionable—she was a model in her day, and used to draw fashion ads for newspapers and magazines. She was an incredible artist, and I think a lot of my inspiration is drawn from her.”
Lombardi also comes from an entrepreneurial family. Her mother owns Sweet Expressions by Geri, a chocolate store, and Foodies, a cooking studio, in Denville, while her father owns SportsCare Physical Therapy, which has more than 70 centers in New Jersey, New York, and Florida. She says her parents were instrumental to her success.
“They always told me that there were no limits to what you can accomplish if you put your mind, heart, and soul into it, and to always reach for the stars,” she said. “Having that kind of support and love instilled in you is a very unique thing.”
Her designs, which range from flats to stilettos, are inspired mostly by her journeys.
“My travels and day-to-day life, as cliché as that sounds,” she noted. “I do find inspiration in patterns, architecture and art, color, and nature when I travel, but ultimately my collections are designed for everyday girl bosses—because we really do run the world. As a woman designing for women, it is important to me that my designs help them feel empowered while also being able to live their lives. I know and live the hustle of balancing a career, a home, a social life, and more, and I want to create shoes for ladies to wear through it all.”
She thinks the best feature of her shoes might be their comfort.
“We create a high-quality, luxury aesthetic with added comfort,” Lombardi noted. “A lot of beautiful shoes are just not wearable for more than an hour or two. We strive to make ours feel as good as they look. We use the same factories and suppliers as the major fashion houses, but are able to bring our products to a broader spectrum of women. But we have also been told that our leathers and patterns are what our customers love. We custom-make a lot of our materials and components, and I think that gives a bit of uniqueness in an overpopulated market.”
Lombardi’s enterprise has also enjoyed success because of its direct-to-consumer business model. Styles are available online at christina-lombardi.com as well as on Amazon.
“Today, e-commerce is becoming the standard in retail,” she said. “By skipping the big-box stores, we are able to offer footwear directly to the consumer at a more attainable price. We’re still creating beautiful shoes with the same passion and craftsmanship; we’re just cutting costs by bringing our product straight to buyers,” adding that her business model also allows the company to over lines more quickly, avoiding strict seasonal release dates.
This summer, Lombardi’s best sellers were the Aria slide and anything featuring the company’s palm or maiolica prints.
“But as we transition into fall, the Kenzie II mules and anything in pony hair and velvet are really picking up,” she said. “The embellishment and craftsmanship on the studded Kenzie IIs is just incredible. They are handcrafted, and the attention to detail is off the charts. They are like little gems for your feet. Our nude patent leather Alessandra with studs is also a very solid seller throughout the seasons—it’s the perfect nude pump with a little something extra.”
Despite her success, Lombardi wants to do more than sell shoes. “My mission is to empower women and help them feel confident by providing them with accessible glamour,” she explained. “As a woman designing for women, I have firsthand experience in what works: what they want to wear, are comfortable wearing, and what it is like to run around all day in a pair of stilettos. Those experiences combined with my design aesthetic gives Christina Lombardi the ability to allow women to have fun and express themselves with fashion, while not having to compromise the comforts and certain aspects of their day-to-day lives.”
“I intend to continue to stick to, while expanding on, that message in the future,” she said. “I will always be hands-on in every aspect of the process, which I think is so important in such a fast-fashion, robotic world. I think handbags would be something fun to dabble in, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I have been getting pressure from day one to do men’s shoes— thanks to my dad and husband—so we’ll see where life takes us in terms of that!
(full article here)
With the launch of her new eponymous Italian shoe line, this New York City transplant has taken the District by storm.
The best way to describe my approach to fashion is: I need to be comfortable, look fabulous and throw on pieces that dont require a ton of effort. My style icon is…my grandmother - she attended the Fashion Instite of Technology and dew advertisements in newspapers for department stores She always had the most amazing costume jewelry and silk blouses. I recently found a picture of her from before I was born and she was wearing a tuxedo to a wedding she attended - with a red bow tie. I never leave the home without…my sunglasses. They really enhance a look, and I’m really into Prada’s styles this season. My favorite designers are… Dolce & Gabbana. They make the most beautiful pieces and send such a great message of love. When it comes to footwear, always…have fun! Shoes can make or break an outfit. And they can make or break your confidence if they aren’t comfortable. As a woman designing for women, it’s very important for me to strike the balance of glamour, fun and comfort. Footwear should always empower women.
“One of my favorite items is a beautiful purse from Milan: it was the first gift my husband bought me. It comes from a wonderfully talented craftsman at a market along the Navigli River in Milan”
Jim Gluckson, Breeders’ Cup, 212-230-9512, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hayley Karlan, Nike Communications, 646-654-3445, email@example.com
BREEDERS’ CUP ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH DESIGNER CHRISTINA LOMBARDI
Christina Lombardi Collection to Serve as Breeders’ Cup’s Exclusive Luxury Footwear Partner
PASADENA, CA. (September 18, 2016) – Today the Breeders’ Cup announces a partnership with Christina Lombardi Collection, the new luxury footwear label designed by Christina Lombardi, for the 33rd Breeders’ Cup World Championships taking place November 4 and 5 at Santa Anita Park in Pasadena, California. Through the new partnership, attendees of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will have exclusive access to Christina Lombardi’s newest footwear collection at pop-up venues in the Langham Hotel, Santa Anita Park and at the Finish Line Celebration. Already considered one of the most prestigious horse racing events in the world, the Breeders’ Cup’s commitment to high level fashion partners, both established and emerging, reaffirms the race’s unique foothold as the ultimate lifestyle, style, and entertainment experience.
Launched earlier this year, the Christina Lombardi Collection is the designer’s eponymous footwear label. Inspired by the designer’s travels to Italy, family history and passion for Italian beauty, the line makes use of the finest and most luxurious materials to create a one of a kind product that highlights the confidence and glamour of all women. Daughter of horse owner Ron Lombardi, who’s horse Tightend Touchdown placed second and sixth in the Turf Sprint race in the 2013 and 2014 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Christina has been a horse-racing fan her entire life and has become a race day fashion expert.
“Christina Lombardi’s design aesthetic perfectly aligns with the Breeders’ Cup luxury experience,” Craig Fravel, President and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup. “Christina’s love of the sport makes her a natural fit for the partnership, and we are excited to give fans access to the Christina Lombardi Collection at this year’s event.”
During Breeders’ Cup World Championship week, Christina Lombardi Collection will have a dedicated space at the Langham Hotel in the Breeders’ Cup Official Hospitality Lounge for shoppers to browse the brand’s twelve different shoe styles, ranging from heels and half-booties to flats. Throughout the weekend, fans can also visit Christina Lombardi Collection’s lounge at Santa Anita Park and enjoy a complimentary glass of sparkling wine while trying on the designer’s Autumn/Winter 2016 collection.
Christina Lombardi Collection will also take part in the Longines Prize of Elegance, the annual competition that honors the best dressed men and women at the races, by gifting finalists a pair of shoes in addition to the grand prize of a Longines timepiece. [BC Team to confirm]
About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 13 (grade I) races and purses totaling $26 million, will be held Oct. 30-31 at Keeneland in Lexington, KY and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup Web site, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.