DC Has a New Very Exclusive Club for Designer Fashion Fans


Photographs of Couture Circle’s recent private event at Tiffany & Co. by Kerrenton Snow, courtesy of Couture Circle.

Private shopping already seems ultra-exclusive. But the barrage of Instagram posts from the latest event for Couture Circle—a new invite-only group for fashion-loving minds—reads straight out of the Sweet Home Alabama proposal scene. 

Not following? A quick refresh circa 2002: in the rom-com, Patrick Dempsey (a.k.a. McDreamy) whisks Reese Witherspoon to Tiffany’s after-hours, where a dozen employees stand by as he pops the question. And then, gesturing around to all of the engagement rings, he invites her to “pick one.” 

Couture Circle’s private event at Tiffany & Co. at CityCenterDC on Sunday, July 10 seemed a little like that–minus the engagement ring (as far as we know). Aptly dubbed “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the intimate gathering invited members to sip Champagne as they perused jewelry both new and vintage. Guests photographed themselves donning jewelry from a private collection—reportedly worn by such celebrities as Jennifer Lopez—before leaving with Tiffany-branded goodie bags. 

But the event itself, while special, was not new for the exclusive group. Before Breakfast at Tiffany’s, there was a private shopping experience at the Sophie Blake boutique in Fairfax. And before that, the group’s first official event in May: a welcome reception of light bites and bubbles at The Ritz in Tysons Galleria, followed by a private shopping experience and dessert at Gucci, where members were gifted custom-engraved bottles of Gucci’s Bloom fragrance.

Other perks from the group’s young existence: special access to the Louis Vuitton X Nike Air Force 1 exhibit by Virgil Abloh in New York. On the horizon: “a pampering session” for members with the Virginia Institute, a skincare boutique and center for facial plastic surgery and aesthetics.

But it’s not all designer shopping, Couture Circle’s executive director Baille Benemelis, will have you know. Benemelis is well connected in the fashion and art world as the regional director of the Fashion Group International of Greater Washington, DC and a career marketing professional. The club concept, she says, actually began back in 2018 as a fundraiser for the Rodarte exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), for which Couture Circle, now a nonprofit group, serves as “a proud benefactor.”

Couture Circle includes 19 members, and counting—although membership will be capped at 25 to start. In the mix are stylists, fashion bloggers (DC Fashion Fool Barnette Holston, for one) marketing and PR professionals, an interior designer, a dermatologist (Dr. Tina Alster), a photographer, a jewelry designer (ahem, Sophie Blake), a retired U.S. Navy Captain, Mrs. DC America 2021 (Anchyi Wei), a VP of federal government relations, and more. What do they have in common? An affinity, says Benemelis, for fashion and art.

Paid annual membership dues are only disclosed to “prospects,” according to Benemelis, with ten percent of the elusive fee going to the NWMA. In return, Couture Circle members are promised access to a variety of exclusive events, as well as other luncheons and receptions hosted by luxury brands, private museum tours, sneak-peeks at new designer collections, and designer meet-and-greets—plus discounts and offers on products and services from local businesses, and more. 

Interested folks can join the waitlist at the Couture Circle website, but to gain access, you’ve got to have an in—members must be referred by current members. Otherwise, you can keep watching the rom-com versions with the rest of us. 

Amy Moeller

Editor, Washingtonian Weddings

Amy leads Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.





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