11.10.2010

"Reg. Bev. Wil."



Anyone who doesn't get the "Reg. Bev. Wil." reference is not a true Pretty Woman fan. For those in the know, it's short for The Regent Beverly Wilshire, the grand hotel that Julia Roberts' character is swept off to when commencing an illicit love affair with Richard Gere.

I'd always wanted to stroll the interior, but the film's snobbish portrayal made me afraid to step foot inside. Sure, the hotel lobby has restaurants and gift shops that are open to the public, but I feared that someone would sniff out my Rudy's Barbershop haircut or Payless shoes (the occasional guilty pleasure!) and ask, "And where do you think you're going?" Once, while taking my mother sightseeing on Rodeo Drive, I was tempted to take her to the hotel, but restrained. She was wearing cheap, plastic athletic shoes with Velcro straps and I just...I just couldn't do it.

Fast forward a few years and I actually get invited (!) to the hotel. A grand soiree honoring BCBG designer Max Azria and his so-beautiful-it-hurts wife, Lubov. Luba for short. They were being honored for their generous contributions to the Los Angeles Team Mentoring program. Univision is a generous sponsor for this cause as well, and we were invited to share a table with a couple of darling executives, Dayna Wittman and Kathleen Wheeler-Strong.

It was a wonderful evening. Elegant decor, important cause, sumptuous food and an open bar never hurts. We walked away with a little crush on Max Azria's wife Luba. She was a less-severe version of Angelina Jolie. She had her full lips, but with softer features; blonde hair, golden tan and was the definition of elegance. She spoke to us about coming to America from the Ukraine, and how in the Soviet nations, one had to dance or perform in the Olympics to get a Visa out of the country. She talked about her fall into fashion and how her husband Max was the inspiration for her work. After all, she is no trophy wife, though Lord knows she has the credentials. She met Max while working for him, and now helps run the company. Married for 20 years and with children, they are the real deal.

Driving home, I felt pride at not feeling like an impostor at The Regent Beverly Wilshire. No one stared down their nose at me. I triumphed over a fear I'd harbored since watching Pretty Woman in junior high. I was invited, I was one of them. I'll say it once and say it proud: I am not a hooker.

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