Party Diary: Elle magazine honors women in Washington

It was a girl’s night out like no other. About 110 of Washington’s most powerful women (plus a few of their husbands and male colleagues) honored their own at the 2014 Elle Power List’s annual dinner held at the Italian ambassador’s residence in upper northwest on Tuesday night.

Where outside the hallowed halls of congress could one spy CNN’s Dana Bash (one of the night’s honorees) chatting casually with Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (a 2012 honoree)?

Smatterings of conversations throughout the room ran the gamut from FDA approval of “female Viagra” to a new app being developed by one of Washington’s most notable socialites. There was no clear agenda besides mingle and make connections. Business cards flowed more freely than the champagne.

“Washington is full of powerful women who support each other,” said WJLA’s Rebecca Cooper with Wasserman Schultz quickly nodding her head in agreement.

“It’s true,” said the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. “That’s what this is–an opportunity to network with each other.” Tonight, Wasserman Schultz added, was all about the “the good old girl network.”

But not everyone in the “gogn” could make it. Some had more pressing business. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier was “attending to a little police business,” according to Elle’s editor-in-chief Robbie Myers. But Bash, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine),  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, Politico COO Kim Kingsley, the Atlantic Council’s Capricia Marshall, former deputy White House counsel Cheryl Mills, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, were all on hand in their Tuesday best.

The dress code of the night seemed to be dictated by the lbd, little black dress, with few folks deviating from that safe uniform. “I mean you’re at the Italian ambassador’s house at an Elle party sponsored by Gucci,” one attendee told us. “So no pressure or anything.”

Maybe next time everyone will take notes from the night’s host, Laura Denise Noce Benigni Olivieri, wife of the Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero. She showed up in a striking silk silver and lavender ensemble. “The older I get,” she said, “the more I wear color.” A fitting metaphor for a room filled with women shining in their careers.

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Helena Andrews is the co-author of The Reliable Source. Follow her on Twitter @helena_andrews, and send your hot tips, sightings, and gossip to reliablesource@washpost.com.
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