By Degen Pener
Photography by Bode Helm
Photographed at Gallery Seomi, Los Angeles | May 11, 2015 | People
In the City of Angels, a new kind of power couple is on the ascendancy. Meet the ladies who do not lunch: alpha mothers and daughters, mentors and mentees, who are ruling with enlightened nepotism over the lofty realms of Hollywood, fashion, food, philanthropy, and the arts. Brava!
On Eldon: Leather jacket, Sandro ($1,045). 310 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-281-0083. Top, Bibhu Mohapatra ($690). Saks Fifth Avenue, 9600 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-275-4211. Earrings, Jennifer Fisher ($230). Barneys New York, 9570 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-276-4400. Booties, Greymer ($455). Pants, bracelet, and ring, Eldon’s own. On Bello: Jacket, Burberry London ($1,150). 301 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-550-4500. Rose-cut diamond Star Burst earrings, Samira 13 ($1,450). 8661 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-652-1313. Top, pants, and rings, Bello’s own. Glazed ceramic mushroom stool (right), Lee Hun Chung, 2012.
Maria Bello, one of Hollywood’s gutsiest actresses—from her charitable work in post-earthquake Haiti to discussing her bisexuality in her just-published first book—says one person absolutely blows her away with her commitment to causes: Kathy Eldon. “Kathy and I have so much in common in terms of our activism,” says Bello of the author and producer who has dedicated her life to telling stories that mainstream media sometimes ignores. In 1997, Eldon edited the best-selling The Journey Is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon, selections from her late son Dan’s diaries, which documented his inspiring life as a photojournalist until he was stoned to death by a mob in Somalia in 1993. Since then, Eldon cofounded the Creative Visions Foundation, a nonprofit that incubates films and projects by creative artists, including 2014’s Food Chains—executive produced by Eva Longoria—which chronicles abusive conditions among California farm laborers.
“We get together Hollywood superstars with extraordinary producers and directors to ignite social change,” says Eldon, whose memoir, In the Heart of Life, was published in 2013 and who met Bello in Malibu five years ago. Family has inspired Bello’s boldness, too. In a 2013 New York Times essay, the actress— known for her Golden Globe-nominated performance in A History of Violence and her recent role in McFarland USA—revealed that she is in a relationship with a woman. Her 14-year-old son’s response to the news inspired the title for Bello’s new book of essays, Whatever … Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves, which seeks to broaden the meaning of the word “partner” to encompass many people, including friends, family, and mentors like Eldon, who helped Bello to find her authentic voice as a writer. Says Bello: “We need to own the labels—with sexuality, with religion, with everything—that set us free, and get rid of the labels that don’t.”
On Susan: Blazer, Calvin Klein ($129). Macy’s, Beverly Center, LA, 310-854-6655. Top, Equipment ($218). 8459 Melrose Pl., LA, 323-330-8889. Jeans, Erin Feniger for Rialto Jean Project ($245). Barneys New York, 9570 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-276-4400. Pearl necklace, Samira 13 ($790). 8661 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-652-1313. Sneakers, Converse ($45). Chain necklace, stylist’s own. Head wrap, glasses, earrings, bracelets, and watch, Susan’s own. on erin: Blazer, Helmut Lang ($595). Nordstrom, The Grove, LA, 323-930-2230. Denim top, Erin Feniger for Rialto Jean Project ($325). Barneys New York, 9570 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-276-4400. Pants, Helmut Lang ($360). Intermix, 110 N. Robertson Blvd., LA, 310-860-0113. Diamond necklace and pumps, Erin’s own. Bada assemblage 140929-05-01,02, glazed ceramic stool in gray-blue powdered celadon (right), Lee Hun Chung, 2014
What could possibly be the bond between one of LA’s most famous female chefs and her 37-year-old niece who makes paint-splattered jeans? Both Susan Feniger—cofounder of Santa Monica’s acclaimed Border Grill—and her fashion designer niece Erin take creative inspiration from the street. Just two years ago, Erin founded the Rialto Jean Project line, selling hand-painted vintage jeans (Oprah Winfrey wore a pair on a recent cover of O, The Oprah Magazine) and jackets, all inspired by seeing a female artist in Venice with “the perfect beach hair and these baggy jeans with paint all over them,” says Erin. The designer paints every piece herself (find them at Barneys New York and Nordstrom), with a portion of sales funding children’s art programs, including one at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Erin has even created custom aprons for her aunt, 62, who recently co-opened a fifth Border Grill in Las Vegas and runs her own Mud Hen Tavern in LA’s growing arts district near the intersection of Santa Monica and Highland. “I love walking through food markets around the world and seeing all the colors,” says Susan. She and her niece—they come from a family in the steel business in Toledo, Ohio—have a sweetly teasing rapport. “I didn’t know you were gay!” jokes Erin when Susan mentions her longtime position on the board of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Susan has also served for 24 years on the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation. But Erin turns serious when she talks about her aunt’s support: “Everybody kind of looked at me like I’d lost my mind when I started this company. Susan taught me to listen to what makes me tick.”
On Borda: Earrings, (price on request), 18k pavé and rose-cut diamond bangle ($8,865) and 14k rose-gold, pavé diamond, Australian pearl, and bezeled diamond ring ($5,200), Samira 13. 8661 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-652-1313. Aura pendant necklace, Pamela Love ($215). Broken English, Brentwood Country Mart, Santa Monica, 310-458-2724; Jacket, dress, and heels, Borda’s own. on martineau: One-of-a-kind 18k white-gold, black rhodium, zebra opal, and diamond wire cuff ($10,575) and one-of-akind 18k yellow-gold, white geode, and diamond ring ($7,000), Kimberly McDonald. Kimberly McDonald. 8590 W. Sunset Blvd., LA, 310-854-0890. Dress, Martineau’s own. From the Glitter 2014-15, mother-of-pearl inlaid on wood chair, upholstered in black cowhide, Kang Myung Sun, 2014.
She’s far and away one of the most powerful women in the world of classical music and LA has her—Deborah Borda. Ever since the former executive director of the New York Philharmonic came out west in 2000 to be president and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, she has taken the orchestra to stunning heights. The onetime violinist, 65, has overseen the completion of Walt Disney Concert Hall and the construction of a new shell for the Hollywood Bowl. She presides over the biggest budget of any US orchestra ($115 million) and hired global sensation Gustavo Dudamel as principal conductor. “We live by two watchwords: innovation and excellence,” says Borda. “The template is creating a thrilling mixture of the Yo Yo Mas of the world and the people who are up-and-coming.”
Borda also has found time to nurture talent from within, notably artistic administrator Meghan Martineau. Just 10 years ago, Martineau was an intern in the development department. Now 30, she has risen to her current high-ranking post, overseeing all classical programming at the Bowl, such as putting together Dudamel’s first Carmina Burana in Los Angeles this summer and working on special projects, including casting operas at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Borda recalls that former LA Phil music director Esa-Pekka Salonen noticed Martineau’s keen artistic taste years back, telling her “you’ve got a really special prize,” says Borda. “And it was Esa-Pekka who tipped me off to Gustavo, so I paid attention.” For her part, Martineau praises Borda for creating a truly creative atmosphere at the Phil—“We are talking about music all the time”—and encouraging plenty of back and forth. When the two recently differed on the choice of a pianist for a major concert, Martineau’s aesthetic arguments won the day. “Not only was it a great decision, but this pianist is turning into a real superstar,” says Borda. Not unlike Martineau herself.
On Barbara: Clothing and accessories, Barbara’s own. On Nancy: Clothing and accessories, Nancy’s own. On Dana: Coat, Paul Smith ($695). 8221 Melrose Ave., LA, 323-951-4800. Top, pant, jewelry, and shoes, Dana’s own. From left: Carved concrete and ceramic bench, 2009, and glazed ceramic double macaron stool with charcoal dots, 2012, both, Lee Hun Chung.
Call them the $135 million fundraising dream team, all members of one family: LA’s beloved Davises. Since 1977, matriarch Barbara, 84, has raised nearly $100 million for the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, the nonprofit she and her late mogul husband, Marvin, started after their then-7-year-old daughter, Dana, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Known for her graciousness and tenacity (“Everybody says ‘uncle’ to my mom,” jokes daughter Nancy), Barbara throws one of the town’s most star-studded and long-standing galas, the biennial Carousel Ball, whose recent humanitarian honorees include George Clooney and Magic Johnson.
Nancy, 57, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1991, is just as gifted at getting Hollywood to give. Her annual Race to Erase MS gala has brought in more than $32 million since 1999 to fund research and treatment and to encourage doctors to share information through its Center Without Walls program. “Our idea was to get doctors from the seven major research centers together and never to duplicate research,” says Nancy. Now Dana, 46, is officially involved in the family’s commitment to cures. In January, she became interim director of the Children’s Diabetes Foundation. She also reveals that, in addition to diabetes, she was diagnosed with MS three years ago. “I’m representing the entire family in all of our diseases,” jokes Dana. Both she and her sister are in good health, thanks to enormous strides in the last two decades. “Eleven drugs are on the market now that weren’t on the market when Nancy was first diagnosed. I’ve personally been able to use two of them,” says Dana. “How often do you get the opportunity to thank a family member for something so incredible?” Beams Barbara: “Let me tell you, my girls are amazing.”
On Rosette: Dress, Vince ($395). Nordstrom, The Grove, LA, 323-930-2230. Dress, Sandro ($470) (worn under patterned dress). 310 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-281-0083, 310-281-0083. Cuff, Noir ($365). Samira 13, 8661 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-652-1313. Ring and shoes, Rosette’s own. On Ester: Fringe jacket, Brunello Cucinelli ($2,880). 220 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-724-8118. Peplum top, McQ ($395). Intermix, 110 N. Robertson Blvd., LA, 310-860-0113. Neuer shoes, Paul Smith ($965). 8221 Melrose Ave., LA, 323-951-4800. Ring and pants, Ester’s own. Glazed ceramic mushroom stool, Lee Hun Chung, 2012.
Mother and daughter Rosette and Ester Delug both have that rare, genius way of knowing what’s next. Rosette, 65, is a board member of the Hammer Museum and one of LA’s most dynamic art collectors, known for her discerning eye, fashion sense that’s “badass,” according to daughter Ester, and love of life (don’t be surprised to see her at an art opening carrying a flask of tequila). Her Beverly Hills house feels like a small museum, with almost every wall hung “salon style,” as Rosette puts it, with works by both emerging artists and established names, many of whom Rosette started to collect before others took notice. “They’re not always hung the right way according to museum people. Curators tell me, ‘Let them breathe.’ But I like a representation of where art is right now,” says the Turkey-born Rosette, who moved to Los Angeles in 1972.
Rosette recalls rearing Ester— her daughter with ex-husband Sam Delug, a telecommunications entrepreneur—to love the arts, as a kid dragging her “to operas and museums. I thought all that imprinting would be great.” It was. Ester, 30, has until recently been the creative director of LA-based jewelry brand Jacquie Aiche—worn by such Hollywood names as Rihanna and Charlize Theron. Now, with valuable business-side experience under her belt, she’s set to relaunch her own jewelry company, Little Rooms, this fall (“I was really young when I started it eight years ago,” says Ester) and will expand the industrial-chic line with accessories and unisex pieces. Rosette enthuses that her daughter inspires her “in every way”— from turning her on to artists before they hit it big (like art star Mark Ryden years ago) to new musicians and fashion trends. “But,” says Ester to her mom, “I certainly get that from you.”
On Foxley: Blazer, Sandro ($545). 310 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-281-0083. One-of-a-kind 18k yellow-gold, quartz, and diamond pendant necklace, Kimberly McDonald ($4,440). 8590 W. Sunset Blvd., LA, 310-854-0890. Top, pants, earrings, and pumps, Foxley’s own. On Lloyd Estrin: Blazer, The Row ($1,690). 8440 Melrose Pl., LA, 310-853-1900. Top, Paul Smith ($275). 8221 Melrose Ave., LA, 323-951-4800. Skirt, Donna Karan New York ($1,495). South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, 714-549-1053. 18k yellow-gold, 5.72-carat Csarite, .5-carat pink sapphire, and .10-carat diamond Becca earrings ($14,800) and 18k yellow-gold, 3-carat Csarite, and 1.45-carat diamond Snowflake pendant on South Sea pearl necklace ($28,000), Csarite by Erica Courtney. 6380 Wilshire Blvd., LA, 323-938-2373. Watch and rings, Lloyd Estrin’s own. Trans-14-006, bench covered in cherry, black, white, and blue silk, Bahk Jong Sun, 2014.
More people should be doing philanthropy the way Zoë Lloyd Foxley and her mother, Mary Lloyd Estrin, do it. They are strategic. They do their research. They believe that turning the world into a more just place means identifying and funding dynamic social-change agents. “We find those leaders who have a vision for their communities and we support them long term—understanding that deep structural changes do not happen quickly or easily,” says Lloyd Estrin, a former photographer, who is the human rights and economic justice program officer of the General Service Foundation, started by her grandparents 69 years ago. Her focus: economic hardship in LA and nationally. “No one should work full-time yet live in poverty,” says Lloyd Estrin, who is also board president of the antinuclear weapons nonprofit Ploughshares Fund.
Her daughter Zoë, 36, is the board chair of another family nonprofit, the John M. Lloyd Foundation (named after Mary’s brother, John, who died from AIDS in the early 1990s). The foundation’s current goal—developed after two years of research on how to be effective funders in the area—is to transform LA’s criminal justice system, which currently incarcerates some 18,000 to 20,000 people on any given day, many of them traumatized juveniles. “Change means reforming harsh sentencing policies to be focused on potential rather than punishment. In addition, there are huge inequities that exist in how laws are applied and to whom,” says Foxley. Uniting mother and daughter is the belief that family foundations should not be “a private pot of dollars to spend however we want,” says Lloyd Estrin. “Our foundations are purposed for the public good. We take that mission seriously.”
On Ruth: Clothes and jewelry, Ruth’s own. On Rebecca: Dress, Karen Millen ($360). Bloomingdale’s, Beverly Center, LA, 310-360-2700. Rings, Rebecca’s own. Trans-14-007, bench covered in cherry, black, and yellow silk, Bahk Jong Sun, 2014. Above: Studies Into the Past (Rock), Laurent Grasso, 2013.
Los Angeles’ art world wouldn’t be quite the powerful cultural community it is without the Blooms. Ruth, 70, is a guiding force at the Hammer Museum; she’s served for six years on the board of the globally acclaimed arts institution known for incubating the careers of bold new artists. As an adventurous art collector (along with her husband, entertainment attorney Jake Bloom), a former gallerist, and a former MOCA board member, Ruth’s presence is felt everywhere at the museum, from helping underwrite shows and mentoring younger board members to, lately, advising on the focus of the Hammer’s collections. Her own collecting strategy? “Jake and I want work that we don’t really understand or that we can learn from. That’s why a lot of art that we have lasts through the years,” says Ruth, whose current enthusiasms include the surrealist paintings of Melora Kuhn and the video works by Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson. “My mom,” says daughter Rebecca, “has always said that artists are the philosophers of our time. You can see the culture through their eyes.”
Rebecca, 40, is equally knitted into LA’s creative class. The author of three novels with a fourth on the way (her latest, Eat, Drink, and Be Married, centers on four friends at a wedding in Lake Tahoe), Rebecca serves on the board of nonproft art space LAXART, another local institution treasured for supporting young artists. She’s been key in helping raise funds for a much larger new home for LAXART in Hollywood, where it recently opened in a former recording studio. “She inspires me by her hard work,” says Ruth of her daughter. “When I was chair of the Venice Family Clinic art walk, she was out there at age 6 helping me tape up the bid sheets.” Adds Rebecca, who lives just a few blocks from her mom in Venice: “Giving back is not just about money. It’s about putting your labor in and making something happen.”
Styling by Stacey Kalchman. Hair by Jonathan Hanousek for Exclusive Artists Management using Kevin Murphy Hair Care and Gui Schoedler for Exclusive Artists Management using Oribe Hair Care and T3 Micro. Makeup by Blondie for Exclusive Artists