The A-list

By Erin Carlson

Here at the Nob Hill Gazette, we’re ringing in 2017 with our annual A-List of all the names we dropped during the past year. We invited a few of the glitterati to be photographed for the issue, and you’ve probably seen them around: There’s Willie Brown and the ever-fashionable Sonya Molodetskaya! Plus: Dede Wilsey! Riccardo Benavides! Karen Caldwell! Each donned designer get-ups from favorites like Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and Oscar de la Renta. No A-List would be complete without this crew.

“I’d be profoundly disappointed if my name was not there,” said Brown, who arrived to the shoot dressed to slay in a Kiton tuxedo and Christian Louboutin formal wear slippers. “I’d be devastated! Because by comparison, I observe the wearing apparel of many of the other males of San Francisco—and there’s not a whole lot of people who dress the way the guys dress in New York, or the way the guys dress in Paris or the way, apparently, every Italian including Italian farmers dress. The Italians really go into it.”

Continues our former mayor, who hops from event to event, changing outfits no more than three times daily, “The difference between the A-List, the B-List and the C-List is the consistency, no matter what the occasion.”

You might think it’s about money and power and whom you know. But it’s how you wear it. Style is democratic. Style gets you noticed. Style can make you famous. If you want to stand apart from the pack, and make our events pages with any regularity, you must do two things: 1) Get up off the couch and go somewhere! Preferably to a social function benefiting a philanthropic cause! And 2) Cultivate a look, and stick with it. As Willie Brown emphasized: Consistency is key.

Effervescent and bubbly as pink champagne, Caldwell—a designer known for her vintage-inspired dresses—lit up the Julia Morgan Ballroom with laughter the moment she arrived toting her blush-colored, gold-embroidered Oscar gown.

What’s her secret?

“I think when people see you smiling, having fun­—that’s the most important thing in life,” she said. “Life’s not easy, as we all know. There are moments. There are ups and downs. But if you can go somewhere and dress up, have a smile on your face, feel good, that’s a moment that gives you pleasure.”

And perhaps, some love from the A-List.

More-than-honorable mentions in this list’s 26th edition: Pamala and Ted Deikel; Vanessa Getty; Carolyn Chang; Joel Goodrich; OJ Shansby; Stanlee Gatti; Senator Dianne Feinstein; Lillian Phan; Charlotte Shultz; Patricia Sprincin; Ken Fulk; Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom; Marissa Mayer; Komal Shah; Robert Mailer Anderson; Farah Makras; Andre Leon Talley; Jonny Moseley; Jane Seymour; Mark Rhoades; Claudia Ross; Marc Benioff; John Berggruen; Giselle Perry; Malin Giddings; Emily Holt; Sobia Shaikh; Leah Garchik; Tatum Getty; Jerome Molles; Susan Wojcicki; Carolyn Chandler; Charlot Malin; Todd Traina; Jack Calhoun;  Nancy Bechtle; Sophie Azouaou; Arlene Inch;  Yuri Pascarella; Sloan Barnett; Justin Fichelson and Gregg Lynn.

Last but never least Lois Lehrman garnered a grand total of 14 name-drops in this magazine, ranking her right up there among the same Who’s Who whom she covered for decades as Gazette publisher emerita.

Scroll through this page to locate your name, and if you can’t find it, remember: There’s always next year. 

Willie Brown

The erstwhile SF mayor, a fixture on the social and philanthropic scene, looks dapper in a Kiton tuxedo and his Christian Louboutin slippers. “It’s always fun to show the bottom of your shoes,” says Brown, referencing Louboutin’s famous red soles.

Dede Wilsey

The charismatic socialite and philanthropist glitters in Valentino while society photographer Drew Altizer snaps her photo-within-a-photo. Asked to name her most A-List moment, Wilsey answers, “When I walk into my front door and my dogs greet me.”

Karen Caldwell

The  clothing designer and life of the party channels Grace Kelly in a regal Oscar de la Renta gown. Caldwell’s most A-List-y moments: “When I hold hands with my husband and take a walk with him. And also when I hug my kids.”

Sonya Molodetskaya

The social swan and companion of Willie Brown is both glamorous and down-to-earth. Molodetskaya, sporting Dolce & Gabbana, has launched her own label, Major Obsessions, filled with the fun, flirty looks for which she’s known.  “You’ve got to have personality,” she muses.

Riccardo Benavides

The in-demand event planner, who recently styled a lavish party at the SF Opera, suits up in Isaia with shoes by the Mayer Shoe Co. “People say I outdo myself … but the women outdo themselves,” says Benavides. “Some of the dresses were phenomenal.”

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