Beverly Johnson: Art de Vivre

Beverly Johnson: Art de Vivre

Photo credit: Tony Powell

“Thank you so much for your hospitality and inviting Beverly to this beautiful, beautiful property. We love the Sofitel.  So, I’m the fiancee. I had the pleasure of working with her for many years to sort of take control of her life and Be’s helped to elevate my life,” said Brian Maillian.

Brian Maillian

Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square hosted a special evening with fashion icon Beverly Johnson, the first African American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue, and Zerina Akers, visionary costume designer and celebrity stylist. Ambassadors, artists and influencers alike circulated the room sipping Martini a La Mode, the official Grey Goose x Sofitel cocktail. Guests savored a  four-course dinner from Sofitel Executive Chef Derek Brooks while enjoying the sounds of electric violinist Tiffany Rose Shanta led by  General Manager Karla Erales.

The evening celebrated the recently debuted partnership between Vogue and Sofitel Hotels & Resorts, the first international luxury hotel brand to originate from France. This unprecedented global partnership will bring immersive festivals, creative activations, fashion collabs and beauty inspired programs to Sofitel properties around the world over the next three years – all designed around the theme of mastering “Art de Vivre.”

“I hope this is the first of many times we can gather and share stories and share life experiences. It’s such an honor to have Beverly and Zarina here,” said Karla as an intro to the conversation and Q and A. “So thank you for joining us. We have just an array of friends and family here tonight that we are just so touched that you were able to join us and you’re able to come to this gathering of minds and people who want to make an impact and wanna make a difference. Some of your stories, all of your stories that I’ve heard so far, are just so inspiring and it really brings to life this partnership.”

“Hello everyone. So my name is Beverly Johnson. I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. I have four siblings. So, I’ll just give a quick little story. I’m watching television with my father. All of a sudden the civil rights movement was on and I was so moved at what was going on and I’m thinking to myself as a little girl that I’m gonna grow up to be a lawyer. And then the whole fashion thing came out. Literally my father made $75 a week and someone told me there was opportunity to make $75 an hour. And I said, ‘Oh, I’m gonna check out this model thing.’ (Note: Johnson studied criminal justice at Northeastern University and appeared on more than 500 magazines covers.)

“There are things I never thought I could accomplish. So, I hope you all act on your big [dreams]. Don’t sit down and wait for opportunities to come to you. Journeys begin with one step and then another and another. And I challenge you to take the first step on the road that will hand you that part of your life that you have put on the back burner. You know what I’m talking about.”

As for the talented costume designer and celebrity stylist Zerina, Vogue described her this way in a 2020 article:

“Zerina Akers is having a moment. After six years of working with Beyoncé Knowles, curating the music legend’s wardrobe in music videos, Instagram posts, and on red carpets, last week she helped deliver Knowles’s magnum opus, Black is King. A bombastic trip through the star’s Lion King companion album, The Gift, and across the African continent, it serves as a showcase for both their talents.”