WASHINGTON — The Washington social whirl, the Dutch ambassador's wife and fresh flowers attracted a special lunch crowd to the residence of the Dutch embassy this month.
The "50 fabulous Washington women," as the invitation characterized them, helped Jellie van Eenennaam, the wife of Dutch ambassador Boudewijn J. van Eenennaam, honor model Frederique van der Wal, host of "The Invisible Journey With Frederique: Flowers," which aired Monday night on the Travel Channel.
Van der Wal, who moved to the U.S. 17 years ago and parlayed her looks into a modeling career with brands from Guess to Victoria's Secret, was inspired to create the show when a new lily, the Frederique, was named after her.
"The concept was created by me," she said of the Travel Channel program, which traces the multibillion-dollar flower business from field to vase.
Next year, she is to host three similar shows focusing on other oft-used but rarely examined products, such as diamonds or coffee.
Working with flowers is a natural way for van der Wal to connect with The Netherlands' devotion to horticulture.
She said the Dutch people have a traditional side that helps them keep on an even keel.
"The man opens the door for a woman, [that] is fine," she said. "There needs to be a balance."
That balance provided a subtext for the lunch, which was a working event for many of the women.
"Ladies Who Lunch are ladies who do things," said self-described Washington character Tandy Dickerson, pointing to the charitable efforts and fund-raising prowess of those in attendance.
Such luncheons are also vital for ambassadors' wives, often charged with keeping elaborate social calendars.
"This was one of my roles, going out and making friends," said Carmen Ducaru, who helps her husband, Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, represent Romania in Washington. "It's very much a results-orientated job. You try to make yourself very well known in the city, reaching out to people and making friends and helping your husband through your friends."
The competition can be fierce, politically and socially."Inside the Beltway it's a melting pot, but it's very powerful, boiling all the time," Ducaru said.
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