A-ListFeatures

The A-List

Seasons come and seasons go, yet many of the names (and faces!) remain the same – well, not all of them. Welcome to the 2018 edition of an NHG tradition – a celebration if you will, of all the people mentioned in our glossy pages over the past year. This year’s list is our most dynamic yet, and we’re proud it better reflects the diversity, humanity, and entrepreneurial spirit that truly makes San Francisco truly great. Turn the page and meet the impressive A-Listers we photographed. Plus: read out tributes to A-listers we’ve lost, with moving remembrances of Mayor Ed Lee, by Ben Fong-TorresCharlot Malin by husband GregoryBill Goldman by wife SerraRichard Stephens by daughter Elisa. They are gone but not forgotten. And never forget this is the Gazette: There will be plentiful party photos. (You can RSVP with us.) 

Yuka Uehara

You know a Tokyo Gamine ensemble when you see one: It is utterly original, unlike anything else on the runway or the street. It’s whimsical, painterly and saturated with rich jewel colors like red, green and fuschia, frequently offset by shimmering gold. The label’s gowns, coats and rompers are walking, wearable art. And the artist is Uehara, who founded Tokyo Gamine and has grown it into a force of nature in just a few short years. Uehara’s creations have been worn at the Oscars, SFFILM Awards Night, the Opera Ball and the SF Ballet Gala. Next stop: World domination?

Ben Fong-Torres

The pioneering Rolling Stone rock journalist is as iconic as the city in which he made his name. And he’s a talented performer in his own right, often taking the stage for open mic night at El Rio in the Mission, where he’s modified a “Blueberry Hill” performance with lyrics inspired by this magazine: And when I am craving news about the jet set/There’s only one source to choose/The Nob Hill Gazette. Asked when he feels “most A-List,” Fong-Torres replies that attending a VIP screening of a film with his wife is a special perk of his profession. “That’s just being a journalist, it’s not exactly being an A-Lister, but you do get some things out of it.”

Pam Baer

When Baer enters the room, she projects an appealing warmth and effortlessly elegant personal style. Case in point: that red jumpsuit! “I’m either in Levi’s and a jacket, or dressy, bright colors,” says the founder of FSG & Co., a social enterprise that connects brands, consumers and charities in a progressive way. Baer also serves on the boards of the SF General Hospital Foundation and the SF Giants Community Fund. “I feel the most A-List when I’m doing good for the city. …It’s the combination of sports and philanthropy that I love best.”

Lisa Grotts

The etiquette expert, writer and mover-and-shaker recalls a screwball romantic comedy heroine from Hollywood’s golden age, radiating glamour, confidence and witty repartee. And she remains enamored of San Francisco, for which she was a director of protocol under former Mayor Willie Brown. “I’ve been riding the cable cars since I moved her 30 years ago,” she muses. “And I just think our city’s magical. Where else do you get a Coit Tower or Transamerica building? And where else can you exercise 365 days a year outside?” Spoken like a true California girl.

Dr. Carolyn Chang

Dear Carolyn: May we please have some of your energy? The esteemed plastic surgeon is perpetually on the go, and she makes it all look so easy. For example, she arrived to a morning photoshoot after doing a surgery, and she had another scheduled for the afternoon. And later that night, she had a chic event to attend in town. Did we mention Dr. Chang is the mother of two small children? “Fashion is my hobby,” she says, glowing in Monique Lhuillier. “I always make sure that I stay on trend but not too trendy. I like to push it a little bit. I like to be fashion forward.”

Anna Weinberg

She’s the energetic and charismatic owner and general managing partner of Big Night Restaurant Group, which runs the hotspots Park Tavern, Marlowe, The Cavalier and Leo’s Oyster Bar. Weinberg, who hails from New Zealand, oozes joie de vivre, including in her role as mom to equally stylish son Leo. He joined the dynamic restaurateur for her Gazette portrait, and it did not take long for photographer Spencer Brown to snap the perfect shot. Weinberg not only knows what we want to eat and drink—try the poulet rouge at Park Tavern and the Bubble Bath cocktail at Leo’s—she strikes a cool pose, too.

Ken McNeely

“What I love most about San Franciso is its energy and its real spirit of giving back, and really being engaged with the full heart and the community,” says McNeely, the longest-serving president of AT&T California­—not to mention a famously snazzy dresser. The devoted family man resides in SF with his husband, Dr. Inder Dhillion, and their two children, Kabir and Meera. The best part of being a dad? “When you can see that light go on, and where they really get something,” he says. “And you realize that you really are making a difference in a human’s life and creating values.”

Liam Mayclem

The affable, Emmy-winning emcee and host of CBS San Francisco’s “Foodie Chap” was horrified by October’s Northern California wildfires, and immediately pulled together a team of all-stars for a fundraiser he dubbed “Chefsgiving,” with the likes of Dominique Crenn participating. “Everyone said, ‘What can I do? How can I help?’” The hyper-scheduled Mayclem only works with causes for which he feels a personal, “heart connection”: “If I’m gonna ask people for money, I have to be able to stand up there and say, ‘I’m here tonight, not just as your auctioneer but because I was a foster kid,’” he says.

OJ Shansby

“When do I feel most A-List? I think when I can get a great seat at a performance,” reveals the elegant society swan, sporting a Balmain suede coat, Erdem dress and Chanel shoes. Shansby is famous for having impeccable taste, especially when it comes to fashion. “I know what I like and I know what I don’t like—whether it’s clothing, whether it’s in household furnishings, whether it’s in how I live, what I do,” she remarks. “I need direction when it comes to putting things together, but I think I’ve always had a sense of style. I like beautiful things. I like very pretty things.” And who can blame her?

Navid Armstrong

She’s the life of the gala, owner of the haut monde’s most infectious laugh, one of its most sophisticated style mavens … and a red advanced belt in Taekwondo? “I grew up [watching] Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, and playing soccer,” she says. “We were obsessed with Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee. I’ve seen that movie 100 times. I love the idea that you can use your body as a weapon.” Quoth Armstrong of her passion for the martial arts: “I just always was attracted to it, and I always had a tomboy side that almost no one knows about.” The secret’s out!

Gwyneth Borden

The executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association brings a wealth of experience in public service and the private sector, with an impressive resume that includes a tenure leading government relations for the SF Chamber of Commerce. Two years ago, she successfully introduced the Saucy Awards to pay tribute to Bay Area culinary stars. “It’s kind of our local Academy Awards,” she says. “What I love most is we honor Employee of the Year, Manager of the Year, Sous Chef of the Year—people who don’t necessarily get the recognition.”

Gregg Lynn

“I got to San Francisco after living in three amazing cities before this: Los Angeles, New York and London. And San Francisco is the most amazing city in the world,” declares Lynn, a top agent at Sotheby’s International Reality and ranked No. 28 in America by the Wall Street Journal in its 2017 roster of high-performing individual agents. “Our city is Technicolor. And we’re bounded by water almost every side and it just doesn’t get any more beautiful than this. Unless of course you go to Rio. And you can’t live in Rio full-time, so we might as well live in San Francisco.”

Emily P. Wheeler

Since lauching her fine jewelry collection more than a year ago, the designer’s standout pieces—pavé and diamond earrings, rings, necklaces and more­—have been snapped up by luxury retailers such as Moda Operandi and Fivestory, and spotted on celebrities like Katy Perry, Gabrielle Union and Kate McKinnon. “You can feel the weight and the quality of it,” she says of her pieces.

Emily Holt

The proprietor of Hero Shop, the expertly curated Post Street boutique, recently celebrated her store’s first birthday. Under Holt’s stewardship, it’s become a bright spot on the sartorial scene, stocking pieces from Rosie Assoulin, Gabriela Hearst and Adam Lippes, plus Bergen Bags, Ancient Greek Sandals and Jonathan Adler. “I would not have a business were it not for the great relationships with people who help me and who I want to work with and to help in turn,” she says.

Jeff and Tray Schlarb

The fun-loving married duo founded Green Couch, their interior design and home staging company, in San Francisco 16 years ago after moving here from London. Cut to 2018: The Schlarbs are now the doting parents of two daughters, and own homes in SF and Healdsburg. Asked what makes him feel most A-List, Jeff replies: “When we’re entertaining and when we’ve got our friends and our family and a client or two, and it just feels really fabulous­—the best life we can live, with the giant harvest table overlooking the vineyards and our oak trees and the breeze of Sonoma County. It may not be the Met or some ball in San Francisco, but that’s when I feel the most special.” Tray, the sunny and self-professed introvert to Jeff’s kinetic extrovert, answers: “When I’m with my family. When we’re all together. When we’re giving back to our community. It feels very important and I feel powerful in that way.” Like their personalities, Jeff and Tray’s styles complement each other—but they swear they never coordinate outfits.

Noah Cowan

Two days after a successful awards ceremony honoring Kate Winslet, Kathryn Bigelow and Kumail Nanjiani, SFFILM executive director was beaming with pride. “We’re at our best when we put on amazing productions,” he says. “And whether that’s the film festival or our recent Awards Night, we feel as though our ability to actually bring issues to light and expose people to amazing personalities in film and beyond is kind of our specialty. So, when we pull if off perfectly, as we have been doing in our 60th anniversary year, I’m just so proud of the people I work with.”

Kaitlyn Krieger

“I feel most ‘A-List’ whenever I have the chance to bring together smart, diverse people around the dinner table,” says the co-founder of the Future Justice Fund, a grantmaking organization focusing on criminal justice reform and income security. “I love what happens when you mix artists, philosophers, entrepreneurs and social justice activists—with plenty of wine, of course.” Known for her exquisite taste—she favors bold, never-boring eveningwear—Krieger shines in a Balenciaga shirtdress, her NHG portrait bordered by an avant-garde black vest she procured from the Japanese textile company Nuno. (Not pictured: her made-to-slay black Burberry boots with a futuristic, sculpted heel.)

Victor and Farah Makras

“You know, every time he picks out a dress, an outfit for me, I look at it, I’m like ‘No way,’ but then the minute I put it on, I get the most compliments,” says Farah of husband Victor, owner of Makras Real Estate. “He’s very hands-on when it comes to having opinion on my fashion. I like to think out of the box a little bit. I like to stay classy, but at the same time have a little edge to it.” For their A-List photograph, Victor wore a Kiton suit and Farah a cream Dior sheath; they exude positive energy, an authenticity. (Perhaps that’s why the social duo get invited to so many parties.) “My husband is the nicest person you’ll ever meet,” gushes Farah. “He’s the most honest, and he makes me a better person every day. I think I’m pretty good, but then he takes it one step higher, always.” Victor returns the admiration: “She enjoys life more than anybody I know. She sees the best in people­. Always responds.” Their romance began at a restaurant opening years ago, Farah recalls. “Somebody sent him a drink and he was looking around to see who sent him the drink—and I thought, ‘I could get in trouble, he thinks I’m somebody who sent him the drink.’ I think that’s how it all started. What struck me about Victor when I first met him? Generosity, he was a gentleman. A true gentleman.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Clara Shayevich

“I’m not going after any trends,” explains a Roberto Cavalli-clad Shayevich of her refined aesthetic. “It’s all classic elegance. Less is more.” Another style mantra: “Just be yourself and be comfortable within yourself, no matter what you’re wearing.” A muse to California designer Vasily Vein, Shayevich is a therapist by day and high society dame by night. Vein is “creating a gown for me and it’s something sparkly, something beautiful, something exciting, something new,” she confided of her look for the San Francisco Ballet’s Opening Night Gala, where she brought the drama in a black showstopper with a ruffled neckline that threw back to Old Hollywood­—but with a Modern San Francisco twist.

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