Industry Insiders: Jen Egan, LA Nightlife Headliner
Jen Egan, Gen Art’s ubiquitous It Girl and Project Runway’s eagle eye, on being perpetually “out,” decoding Japanese door lists, and why Beverly Hills fashion still sucks.
Where do you hang out? I love the Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel. Jeff Klein is a good friend, and Dimitry, who does not need a last name just like Madonna and Cher need no other name, is bar none the best host in the city. He will greet you with his adorable Italian accent, “Ciao bella,” and kiss you, always both cheeks, and never an air kiss. Tower Bar is dark enough to take 10 years off me, swank enough that there are always celebrity sightings, and intimate enough that you feel cozy munching on the amazing thin crust pizza and drinking champagne, a.k.a. “champers dahhhling.”
On the other side of the spectrum, I love St. Nicks Pub for a cold beer and to get back in touch with my Irish roots. And, The Otheroom is a staple in my repertoire, only because it is very close to my house and has a prolific selection of wines and beers.
What do you do? I go out a lot. I throw 30 parties and attend what seems like another 200 a year. I once thought it’d be very glamorous to throw and attend the city’s hottest parties, but it is actually grueling, because it is mostly work. I use strong under-eye make-up to take away the dark circles.
I’m also the national vice president of marketing and business development of Gen Art, a national nonprofit dedicated to showcasing, promoting, and supporting the arts. We just celebrated our 15-year anniversary. We’ve helped discover hundreds of amazing new designers and produced thousands of shows. I oversee a team in each one of our markets who ensures that we continue to grow our audience, press, and branding equity. I also work on casting for shows like Project Runway and am currently working on a new show called The Sew Off.
Who do you admire in nightlife? I have to say it, and I know this will be controversial, unless The Hills is your fave show: Brent Bolthouse. Before you snicker, let me explain. He was really the first to carve out the celebrity nightlife space, and overexposed clubs and restaurants aside, he really is a brilliant architect of nightlife. Amanda Demme is also a fearless arbiter of nightlife. She has impeccable taste and “gets it” when predicting what will resonate with the indie but nonetheless A-list crowd.
What trends do you like in nightlife these days? Hotel bars are making a huge comeback, to my surprise and delight. All the best hotels, and even the more questionable ones, are giving their bars a Kelly Wearstler-like makeover and appealing to the post-work-in-need-of-a-drink crowd. I’ve also noticed that a lot of clubs and bars are incorporating more art into their spaces and events. They’ll have an art exhibition displayed on the walls, a new film projected, a fashion vignette, or installation or experimental new music.
Anything you can’t stand? I hate the idea of “the list.” I think the idea of a VIP room or space within a bar or club is so late 90s. I love the rooftop at Thompson Beverly Hills, but every time I go, the door girl looks at me like I am trying to smuggle heroin across a border. I hear that the beautiful Japanese door-nazi actually writes her lists in her native language so that no one can peek over and give a name off the list. Secretly, I find that kind of glamorous, but completely preposterous.
What is something that people might not know about you? My favorite thing to do is nothing. My job requires that I am out a lot of the time, and my job is highly demanding. When I get a free moment, I actually love to do absolutely nothing.
Where do we find LA fashion at its best? Part of what I love about Los Angeles is that it is so different geographically. Depending on which pocket of the city you are in, you will get a different flavor. My favorite place to observe fashion is Venice because it is the perfect mixture of hipster beach couture. It is a melting pot from a fashion standpoint.
And what about at its worst? I do think the worst fashion in LA can be found in Beverly Hills. It is very “nuevo” and label focused. As an advocate for emerging talent, I am obviously not a big fan of logo-heavy clothing and accessories.
You hit tons of parties in LA. What’s new with all those darned celebrities? I swear to you that Luke Wilson is following me. Just in the last three days, I have seen him at the SLS Hotel, Blvd at the Beverly Wilshire and The Brig. I mean, he could just pick up a phone, there’s no need to lurk around my haunts.
Is there anything particularly mind-blowing Gen Art is seeing from artists in LA these days? With the economy being as it is, we are seeing designs that are multi-functional. They can go from a skirt to a strapless dress with the pull of a snap, or a tunic top to palazzo pants with the flick of a tie.
And finally, what are you doing tonight? I am casting for The Sew Off in Glendale, so I’ll be fighting traffic tonight. I know it sounds super sexy, but it really isn’t. I will then be attending a mustache and minis party