Now that we are finally back from the holidays we wanted to catch you up on a few of our favorite holiday parties. One of the lesser known pearls we have here in Beverly Hills is that of a certain women’s club with good roots and big names. The club dates back to 1916 and is aptly called The Beverly Hills Women’s Club. In this day, all the ladies of Beverly Hills would actually ride their horse to meetings – as did my Great Godmother, from whom my parents bought their first house on Hazen Drive in 1980. Her stories were my first introduction to the club.
While I was at Harvard-Westlake several mothers had board positions and when I got back from college on East Coast, my dad had rented a house for a short while next door to their clubhouse located just behind the Beverly Hills Hotel. And by clubhouse I mean an honest to God Beverly Hills prime property members-only clubhouse. There are few social clubs on the West Coast that can boast an actually piece of real estate. There is the Jonathan Club, the California Club and the Los Angeles Club – all downtown and largely geared towards men – meaning the Beverly Hills Women’s Club is the only all-womens club in Los Angeles that owns property (tres chic); please do email if I have missed a club.
There was a book I recently read by Leticia Baldridge, former White House social secretary during the JFK years, that detailed the advent of women’s clubs in New York City – which all own property, as do the mens clubs and all the University clubs – and the Beverly Hills Women’s Club had them all beat by about two decades.
So in case you are wondering how these clubs can afford to own a prohibitive piece of Manhattan, downtown L.A. or Beverly Hills (north of Sunset I might add) real estate … well, it’s not easy. It’s even debatable. Does a social club really need to own land? Despite that the house has been free and clear now for many years, there is still constant upkeep, maintenance, repairs, staff as needed, gas, water, electricity, decor, insurance, emergencies, property taxes and more. Over the years at the Beverly Hills Women’s Club this has been an on-going debate, even creating bad feelings among members and causing several high profile departures in recent years when costs came to a deal-breaking crux.
The current club president Claudia Deutsch, gallerina owner of Artspace Warehouse in Zurich and West Hollywood, has been credited with keeping the members apprised of the areas in which money is needed, and members continue to be happy to offer support in individual donations from new curtains to a new roof, as has been the way for almost a century. Claudia also recommended to a majority vote to lower dues and expand membership to include younger girls; now there are even students from Beverly in the club as well as actress Lily Collins – daughter of Phil Collins and Jill Collins – who is on the BHWC board. Claudia also handles a lot of the programming which has recently included auction previews, talks with local celebrities and events, and philanthropic gestures to this years charities of choice – The Red Cross and Aviva.
Last month, Tiffany & Co. (for whom Letica Baldridge was the first director of public relations before her White House days) hosted a holiday tea at the Beverly Hills Womens Club to show off their new diamond designs and new Tiffany Leather Collection – the designers, Richard Lambertson and John Truex, were also in attendance. Tiffany & Co. Vice President Jonathan Bruckner hosted the high tea in conjunction with BHWC member Tricia Grey; they gave out little Tiffanys note books in little Tiffany-blue gift bags. The tea was was a sea of Chanel suits and flutes of cobb salad, tea sandwhiches and champagne - all under the 20ft high beamed ceilings in the meeting area (would-be living room) of the BHWC.
The current roster of members includes Beverly Hills natives, art collectors, philanthropists such as Carla Sands, Barbara Lazaroff – co-owner of Spago, Lynda Resnick – donor of the latest wing at LACMA, Joni Smith – head of the Fashion Council at LACMA, and Nancy Krasne – the previous Mayor of Beverly Hills before Jimmy. Upcoming events can be viewed on the BHWC website. I plan to go to the “History of Beverly Hills” event on Jan. 20 and “Jewels of the Maharajahs” on the 25th! This morning there is a talk with Lou Weiss, the famous head of TV at William Morris and grandfather of a friend of the Truffle, Brian Weiss – but I will miss it as I have work to do on the Truffle! xoxo