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That Chichie look: a half century of grooming Washington’s finest

September 19, 2011

“One day I looked across the street and said to myself, I swear I’ve got some competition. My heart was beating fast, but it turned out it was one of mine.”

She’s been a character witness for the plaintiff in a case of dog bites dentist’s hand, given Bo Obama his first haircut, and attended Leader’s birthday party at the Watergate home of his owners, Elizabeth and Bob Dole.  The walls of her elegant Georgetown grooming spa are filled with six decades of remembrances.

A young Chichie and friend (Photo by: Judith Beermann) A young Chichie and friend

Bo Obama before meeting The First Family (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bo Obama before meeting The First Family

Chichie, born Lowaunz ‘Saint Teresa’ Koger, has been transforming family pets into Chichie runway stars for over 50 years.

“I just don’t notice people. I think I’m a dog. I like people the way dogs like people.”

By the time she had opened her first Capitol Hill shop in the early 60’s with then husband, Earl, Chichie had perfected her grooming arts starting with Roy, her dad’s German shepherd guard dog.

Sunday was her first true inspiration, a cocker spaniel her mother found by the side of the road when she was 10.  “She was a wreck but I thought she was beautiful.” After taking her to be cleaned up by the local vet, and finding her returned “with no hair, white flakes and a big knot on her head,” Chichie was appalled at the botched grooming but pleased to notice Sunday was already feeling better. With her own combs and manicure scissors, she set to work. From that time on, her vision was to “have a place where people could bring their dogs and not worry that anything was going to happen, and they would get a great hair-do.”

A day at the spa (Photo by: Judith Beermann) A day at the spa

Then there was Chico, the family’s capuchin monkey. “She was really funny,” Chichie laughed as she recalled her easily breaking into the homes of their Italian Philadelphia neighbors. Her dad had built a cage for Chico but she preferred sleeping with Chichie.

Miniature schnauzer, Leader's last birthday party at the Watergate residence of Elizabeth and Bob Dole. (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Miniature schnauzer, Leader's last birthday party at the Watergate residence of Elizabeth and Bob Dole.

At 24, she discovered poodles. While volunteering at an animal hospital, a “beautiful black standard” mated with “a Rastafarian-looking one,” produced a “gorgeous litter of 12" and Chichie was thrilled to be given her pick. Gypsy was the first in a long line of show-worthy beloved family poodles.

One of Chichie’s earliest fans (still to this day) was Georgetowner, Katherine Evans, who owned Hubert, a standard poodle named after vice president Hubert Humphrey. Katherine, (widow of Roland Evans,  journalist best known for his syndicated column, the ‘Evans-Novak Political Report’ with Robert Novak) urged Chichie to move the shop closer to her. “She parted the waters for me,” Chichie explained how Katherine helped her find her first Georgetown location in the 2900 block of M Street. At the time,  two competing dog shops were nearby, but not for long.

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

Her passion was not confined to canines. “I raised three squirrels,” one so tiny she fed with an eyedropper, “If he’s alive in the morning, he’s my squirrel.” Pointing to the gold-framed photo, “I cried so hard when that squirrel died. Missed him more than when Earl left.”

When she moved to her current location on P Street in 1994, the first thing Chichie did was knock on the office door of neighbor, world-renowned architect, Hugh Newell Jacobsen.

“What color should I paint my house?” Hugh was on his way to the airport but came across the street and quickly jotted down a shade of Benjamin Moore yellow and midnight green for the shutters and railings.  They soon became friends, and Chichie on more than one occasion could hear Hugh call out, “Chichie’s got the only real business in Georgetown.”

An early Jack Evans Christmas family photo with Chichie-groomed golden retriever (Photo by: Judith Beermann) An early Jack Evans Christmas family photo with Chichie-groomed golden retriever

Paris at play (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Paris at play

Named Best Groomer 2011by The Washingtonian (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Named Best Groomer 2011by The Washingtonian

Daughter, Aleta giving a client a bath (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Daughter, Aleta giving a client a bath

“People say they can tell it’s a Chichie dog. The all have beautiful haircuts, the cut, the style and all different breeds.”

Her clients come from every part of the city, the country and beyond. “Madame Chichie, my wife really loves you. We come all the way from the south of France.” Every three months, the couple would fly with Putsi, their apricot miniature poodle for that “Chichie look.”  When she died, they bequeathed her  belongings to Chichie and shipped them to Georgeotwn.

And what does Chichie do for fun? “I love to walk Paris and Bandit.”

Chichie's Grooming Spa is at 2614 P Street.

Chichie with Bandit, an imperial shitzu and Paris (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Chichie with Bandit, an imperial shitzu and Paris


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Rag & Bone men drawn to Georgetown

September 13, 2011

“It’s been an interesting journey.” David Neville wasn't talking about his Amtrak ride from New York Fashion Week though by rail was how he and Marcus Wainwright (the other half of Rag & Bone's design team) arrived in Georgetown Tuesday evening.

Here for the official launch party of Rag & Bone,  Marcus explained, “We’re English guys who went to school together. We couldn’t find a pair of jeans we liked ...” So they formed their own clothing label in New York City in 2002.

Pamela Sorensen and Nicole Venable (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Pamela Sorensen and Nicole Venable

They’ve been collecting awards and accolades ever since, most recently, named 2010 Menswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

With shops in New York and Tokyo (a women’s only store in Houston), “The logical step was to follow the history … We always wanted to come to Georgetown,” said David.

David Sutphen and Kate Michael (Photo by: Judith Beermann) David Sutphen and Kate Michael

Speaking of history, ‘rag and bone’ refers to someone who travels the streets of a city with a horse drawn cart and collects old rags (for converting into fabric and paper) and bones for making glue.

The current Rag & Bone collection, straight from the runway is a far cry; a mix of American workmanship and British youth aesthetic fashioned in parachute material, mesh, crochet, tweed and patterned leggings.

Next shop, Boston, this fall.

Rag & Bone's Georgetown launch party, September 13, 2011 (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Rag & Bone's Georgetown launch party, September 13, 2011

Rag & Bone is at 3067 M Street. Tel:  202.295.9072


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Citronelle hosts Vintage en Vogue fashion party

September 8, 2011

“A fabulous evening of fashion, food, and cocktails inside The Latham Hotel at Citronelle.” From the runway, MyDCStyle.com’s April Jones Firoozabadi thanked her hosts and fashion partner. “Banana Republic is a top choice for day-to- evening wear, especially with their Mad Men collection. D.C.’ s a great city for this … and everything here tonight is available in Georgetown.”

VIP guests enjoyed the Fashionista Wine Bar with selections from master sommelier, Kathryn Morgan and hors d’oeuvres from the Citronelle kitchen. A mix of catwalk and culinary as guests listened to April’s expert fashion tips. To the sounds of a DJ and and a steady drizzle, models introduced the latest fall trends.

Leopard print trenchcoat from Mad Men collection (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Leopard print trenchcoat from Mad Men collection

"A leopard print tench coat from the Mad Men collection."

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

"The two-piece cocktail dress is so versatile. Nude heels are a must-have."

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

"The nice-guy look works so well meeting parents."

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

"Floral, mustard print from Mad Men collection looks good with all skin and hair colors."

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

"Print scarves looks great with the Camille jacket."

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

"A sequined dress stands on its own, and doesn't need a lot of accessories."

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

Drawings for prizes followed the show included parking passes in Georgetown, cocktails at Michel at Tysons Corner to overnight stays at The Latham Hotel, dinners at Citronelle, and Stella & Dot jewelry.

Erica Finkelstein, Donna Donella, Wendy Gordon, Gina Dakouni, Tasha Stancill Richman (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Erica Finkelstein, Donna Donella, Wendy Gordon, Gina Dakouni, Tasha Stancill Richman

Guests lingered at the bar following the show.

Mel Davis (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Mel Davis


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