As Diana Lado takes a shallow drag
from the cigarette she bummed outside Palihouse in West Hollywood, I ask
her why Lindsay Lohan doesn't just get her own apartment. Lohan has
recently been kicked out of the Chateau Marmont, and when I met Lado at
the Chateau a few days prior, she'd called the place a favorite hangout.
I figure she might know.
Her bright green eyes flash in my
direction. She probably does know. But Lado simply says, through a
sultry Castilian accent, "Lindsay is a very, very nice girl."
Lado knows better than to gossip with me. That wouldn't be good for her image, and her image is everything.
Lado is a socialite. At least, that's how her publicist, Laura Gimbert,
initially refers to her. But it's not exactly what Lado, who's in her
late 20s, calls herself. Like "hipster," "socialite" is not a label
anyone uses reflexively.
Instead, Lado's business card from
Freixenet sparkling wine identifies her as a "Brand Ambassador and Cool
Hunter," terms equally vague but perhaps more professional-sounding.
she's a spokeswoman for the cava maker, but certainly not the kind who
wears a company T-shirt or hands out coupons. It's more that she's the
coolest girl in the room, and she drinks Freixenet. And Freixenet hopes
that enhances their brand.
Say Lado is at a party, Gimbert explains to me, "and she sees Josh Harnett sitting there. She'll go and buy a bottle for him."
"And thank him. I'll thank him for coming," Lado interjects.
"And she'll be with him, drinking the bottle she just gave him," Gimbert continues.
that, Freixenet pays her a fairly hefty sum of money. Gimbert wouldn't
disclose the amount, but she says Lado earns as much as she did as a
successful attorney in Barcelona, from which she originally hails.
says she gave up that career because it didn't suit her personality.
She moved to London and fell into the social scene, and from there, this
new career was born. All of it happened "organically," Lado says. It's a
word she uses often.
Back at the party -- a Smoke & Mirrors
pop-up affair led in part by her friend and fellow socialite Wade
Crescent, who's DJing -- we hang near the booth, drinking sparkling wine
and chatting with Lado's acquaintances, who surround her.
looks good. Really good. There's not an extra ounce of fat or a sequin
in sight. Lado is wearing a chic, clingy maxi dress. "It was a gift from
the designer," she tells me.
Like Lado, seemingly every other
person has an accent. I ask a British guy where he's from, and with a
shrug he tells me he splits his time between L.A. and New York.
is a tony affair, and you need to be invited by the organizers to get
in. "If they don't know you, don't even bother," Lado says.
through her second glass, Lado tells me this is more than she usually
drinks. She rarely smokes, either -- her yen tonight a product of the
additional bubbly, she says. But she's off the clock, sort of. As much
as she ever is at a party. She's not hosting it, and Freixenet, with
whom she has a long-term contract, isn't sponsoring it.
still important she's there. She needs to be seen at parties like this
to maintain her status. It's part of her employer's expectation. In
fact, they pay for it. Though I decline, she proffers drinks
continually. "Don't worry, Freixenet will pay for it," she says.
of Lado's friends offers her a refresher, and she sweetly asks for more
Champagne. "But no prosecco," she adds, and off he goes, joking about
the role reversal, since she's usually the bubbles bearer.
then explains into my ear the difference between Champagne and prosecco.
I can barely understand her over the music, but she says something
about barrels and bottling. Her knowledge of the industry seems real.
man returns with her drink and she takes a sip, then whispers to me,
"He thinks I don't know this is prosecco," but graciously adds, "I will
pretend I don't know" and sips some more.
aren't always this light. In a few days Lado will be off to New York for
Fashion Week, where she'll host the Freixenet Fashion Suite at the
Dream Downtown hotel. The site was chosen on Lado's recommendation as an
Models, designers, celebrities and
trendsetters will stop by on her invitation to mingle and sip Freixenet,
and Lado will make sure they're photographed doing so. She'll also
interview them on camera and upload the videos to her blog and YouTube
The logistics of coordinating the fashion suite, however,
were left up to others. There are producers who do that, she explains.
She'll be there as the face.
Freixenet has paid for her plane
ticket and accommodations, and arrangements have been made for her to
borrow designer clothes for the week.
But Lado says she never
requests freebies. A hotel may comp her just because of who she is, or a
car company may lend her a car and a driver. "It happens organically,"
she says. "I never ask."
What she won't have is a responsibility
to distribute a certain amount of bottles, or snap a certain number of
photos, or drive attendance in the suite up to a certain number. It
doesn't work that way. There are no goals to hit.
Lado says of
Freixenet, "They don't tell me what to do because it wouldn't work. I
don't report to them because, again, it wouldn't work." She needs them
to trust her to know the cool people and places, and associate Freixenet
with them. According to her, they do.
Freixenet has bankrolled
Lado since 2008, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
But what will become of Lado when her youth fades? "I don't know what's
going to happen," she says, "but I guess everything will be good,
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because all this happened organically. Whatever will happen next, it
will also happen organically."
She looks so confident, it's hard not to believe her.