Byline: Marcy Medina
SAN FRANCISCO — Despite the smattering of recent boutique openings by Christian Dior, Frette and Marc Jacobs (and Yves Saint Laurent just around the corner), the words “high style” don’t exactly leap to mind when thinking of San Francisco. Perhaps, it’s the iffy weather or the nearby outdoorsy havens like Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe that give the city that earthy and traditional approach to fashion.
But for Hilary Newsom, a fourth-generation golden girl, it’s that sporty style that keeps her in business. A former fashionista by New York standards (she worked for Giorgio Armani in Milan and New York as well as Donna Karan), Newsom, 33, opened PlumpJack Sport in Squaw Valley last year, a boutique for travelers in search of chic skiwear and apres-skiwear.
“The only other options in Tahoe were cheesy tourist shops with logo sweatshirts,” says Newsom. “I wanted people to find great clothes for their vacations, and nothing they would regret owning back in the city. How many times have I come home and said, ‘Did I really need a $200 pair of oversize jeans? What was I thinking?”‘
This month, Newsom is opening a second 1500-square-foot PlumpJack Sport, which will specialize in snow gear from Prada Sport, Vampire and Salomon. The original 2,000-square-foot space will focus on apres-ski essentials like handknit Saskia sweaters, shearlings and Velvet T-shirts.
“Personally, I don’t see what the fuss is over this Prada stuff,” growled Bill Newsom, Hilary’s father, as he surveys the store during a trunk show and lavish vinter’s dinner held to toast the new space in late November. He later admitted, “I did buy myself a few handsome jackets.”
Newsom’s family and Squaw Valley boast a long history together.
“If it wasn’t for Squaw, I wouldn’t be here,” laughs Newsom, noting that her father, a retired circuit judge, met her mother in the swimming pool of the Olympic Village, a stone’s throw from PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn, the resort now owned by her brother, city supervisor Gavin Newsom, and Gordon Getty.
Gavin first enlisted his sister’s skills after she declared Seventh Avenue burnout five years ago. He summoned her back to the West Coast and installed her as PlumpJack’s marketing director — overseeing the winery, restaurants and bar. After moving up to the position of vice president of retail operations, Newsom finally convinced her brother that the resort needed a chic sportswear boutique.
While in San Francisco, Newsom devotes her energies to fund-raising for Tara Getty’s Africa Foundation and the Northern California Cancer Center, where she just joined the board of trustees after founding a charity golf tournament. At the last go-round, Newsom’s husband, Geoff Callan, proposed on the putting green.
Giving Newsom even more reason to shuttle to Squaw Valley this month is the opening of Matrix Fillmore, a bar in which she and Gavin are investors. The brainchild of party planner Stanlee Gatti, it’s a chic, smoky glass and velvet homage to the space’s original Matrix bar, which was frequented by rockers like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix in the Sixties.
“I constantly pinch myself because I’m so lucky to have friends and family that say yes to everything I do,” says Newsom. “I don’t want to sit back and bask in that, though. You’ve got to give more than you receive.”