Our Alicia Marantz, West Coast and Entertainment Editor, was out getting engaged over Oscar weekend (yay!) so I had to go cross country to fill her shoes and GO TO THE OSCARS. Okay, maybe not the actual Oscars, but to do something even better: the “gifting suites and lounges.” Wow…they know how to have fun in LA! My head is still spinning. Here’s how it works: prior to any big award event, production companies rent space in a hotel or take over a local mansion, store or salon. Space is then offered (for a fee) to various vendors to show their products, tools or services. The production company in turn invites celebs and their "peeps" to come tour the suite in hopes that the celeb will wear, try, sample any of the items offered. Ideally it’s a win win for everyone…the vendor gets free publicity, and the celeb (or other high profile person) gets a great whatever.
Andy Dick gets a trim courtesy of Aveda.
One of my favorites was the GBK Productions Oscar Suite, the gold standard of gift suites, known for its quality, quantity, and generosity. Called the Oscar Lounge, more than 10 suites over two floors in the Roosevelt Hotel were devoted to gifting. Fifty-two vendors including three jean designers, Metro Mint Water (the best beverage at the suites), Isaac Mizrahi shoes, Cinzia eyeglasses, Magellan GPS Systems, Gevril watches, Medi-Rub Foot Massager, Spirit Scrolls jewelry, 3Lab skin care, EZ Vision and EZ Wake iPod systems, Lazer Away Hair Removal and Bodega Chocolates were there for the sharing. Before hitting the gift zone, invited guests encountered Jane Iredale make up artists and Aveda hairdressers just waiting to touch up anyone interested. Zoya and Qtica Smart Spa were giving manicures and pedicures right and left. My favorite was Dominic of Barbar who made all he encountered feel like a celeb. Everyone walked out with a blow dryer and curling iron.
Dominic of Barbar with Penny Marshall.
Mere mortals are barred, but press is welcome to rub elbows with the Oscar folk. While there I encountered Helen Mirren, Penny Marshall and Andy Dick. I just missed Leo DiCaprio and Forest Whitaker. Bummer. What made us all feel good is that Gavin Keilly, GBK founder, takes a percentage of the profits and this year donated $15,000 in cash and $120,000 of products and services to multiple charities including Global Green and the John Wayne Cancer Institute. It makes us all feel better about being product pigs.
GBK founder Gavin Keilly with Helen Mirren.
From GBK my "posse" (okay, my daughter) and I went to the Beverly Hills home of brow expert Anastasia. Most impressive at her breathtaking mansion was the space devoted to services. Creative Nail Design actually took over a canopied area by the pool and set up about 6 stations for manicures and pedicures. All spots were taken so we sauntered over to the make up area. There was an empty seat near a very attractive, bobbed woman. I was about to ask her if she was the make up artist when my daughter grabbed my arm and said "watch out! That's Naomi Campbell." Wow…dodged a bullet (or phone) there. Like literally.
The $1 million dollar CHI flatiron! Stacy Kiebler with president of Farouk, Shauky Gulamani.
We left quickly and headed over to the Sunset Hyatt to the Platinum Suite. CHI dominated this penthouse set-up with a $1,000,000 diamond encrusted iron which was both beautiful and functional. We were drawn to the sparkling appliance which was featured in an imp