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Golden Globes 2015: Inside The DPA Gift Suite

Kelly O'Mara |
January 10, 2015 | 10:39 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Colin Firth was the talk of the town at the pre-Golden Globes DFA gift lounge. (Kelly O'Mara/Neon Tommy)
Colin Firth was the talk of the town at the pre-Golden Globes DFA gift lounge. (Kelly O'Mara/Neon Tommy)
I would imagine that one of the most amazing things about becoming famous is that just as you can finally buy whatever you want, people won’t stop giving you things for free. In fact, I imagine it can almost become a burden—being laden down by all the stuff everyone wants to give you, in the hopes that maybe you will tweet about it, or mention it on TV, or rave over it in a magazine.

Fortunately, the DPA pre-Golden Globes gift lounge comes with people to carry all that free stuff for you.

In the penthouse of the Luxe Hotel on Rodeo Drive, the rain spoiled the view and soaked the temporary carpets on Saturday, but, it didn’t dampen the big news: whispered among the caterers and interns, Colin Firth was wandering with his wife (and his free-stuff-carrier) through the dozen tables of clothing samples, makeup bags, cupcakes, and promotional reps offering elite trips to luxury islands.

For the last ten years, Nathalie Dubois-Sissoko has run Dubois Pelin & Associates gift lounges. Retailers pay her a fee to be included and, in turn, she delivers them celebrities. The businesses come to this small set of rooms—one even flying in from Iceland—because the access might pay off. The celebrities come because, well, even celebrities can’t say no to free stuff.

Dubois-Sissoko recently signed a deal with Dick Clark Productions to run the official backstage gift lounges at the American Music Awards and the People Magazine Awards—because what would an award show be without free stuff for the nominees and winners. This, though, is an unofficial gift lounge. All the Golden Globe nominees were invited by Dubois-Sissoko and her staff, as well as a number of other big names. All in all, about 150-200 people trekked through the penthouse in the three days the pre-Golden Globes gift lounge was open. Those people have come off the elevator and been shepherded to the check in. They’ve been waved past the velvet ropes and told to enjoy some coffee while they wait for a guide, who will ensure that they see each and every business paying for the privilege.

READ MORE: Golden Globes 2015: Predicting 'Best Motion Picture, Drama'

The penthouse of the Luxe Hotel was decorated for the gift lounge. (Kelly O'Mara/Neon Tommy)
The penthouse of the Luxe Hotel was decorated for the gift lounge. (Kelly O'Mara/Neon Tommy)
“I do a lot of searching for the businesses,” said Dubois-Sissoko. Many of the companies she finds end up in the gift lounge through word of mouth and recommendations—even recommendations from interns. The owner of Cake Eater, who makes rather delicious cupcakes, is a family friend of one of DBA’s interns. Now, she’s feeding peanut butter and jelly cupcakes to Colin Firth and Community’s Yvette Nicole Brown.

This is how things happen in the celebrity world, and Dubois-Sissoko has become one of the premier organizers of gift lounges—yes, apparently that is a thing—by understanding that celebrity world. Michique handbags, for example, had been shown off (and given away) in DBA gift lounges at festivals and award shows for years. The two sisters who run Michique are from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The island is a growing vacation destination; Dubois-Sissoko visited and now Mary Tulle, CEO of Destination Breton Association, has been at her table advertising the island at multiple gift suites.

“She told us, ‘I want to put you on the map,’” said Tulle.

Fortunately for Tulle, word-of-mouth works among celebrities too. When much of the cast of Boyhood visited the penthouse, they had already heard about Cape Breton because co-star Ethan Hawke has a house there. Naturally.

Before getting to see the tables, though, and the goodies, you must wait. Exactly how long you wait in the velvet chairs, next to the stylish heat lamps, for your guide, depends on exactly how important you are. This too is how things happen in the celebrity world. And, that’s fine, that’s understandable. Everyone here wants Colin Firth to go first. If I had a free trip to give him, I would too. What must it be like to be him? 

READ MORE: Golden Globes 2015: Predicting 'Best Actress In A Motion Picture, Musical Or Comedy'

KronKron's shoes are made of unique textures and styles.
KronKron's shoes are made of unique textures and styles.
Most of the nominees show up with friends or their parents or wives, who take advantage of the interesting makeup and clothes. Nicole Brown walked out wearing an intricate lace and glass necklace by Madame Nadine. Actress Emily Hampshire borrowed an expensive piece from Azada, where the unique clothes are made out of vintage fabrics. (Tara Haggiag, the designer, scribbled down who borrowed what in a small notebook that was growing very full by the end of the three days.) KronKron handed out one-of-a-kind shoes made from woven straw and Icelandic salmon skin. Maybe they’ll be worn tomorrow; maybe they’ll be worn to some other red carpet or event; maybe they'll never be worn.

The two owners and designers of KronKron, a husband and wife team, flew all the way from Iceland just to participate in this gift lounge, to see their clothes and handmade jewelry on celebrities.

“It’s worth it,” said designer Hugrún Árnadóttir.

Word on the penthouse floor was that Common had been there the day before, as had Angela Bassett, who borrowed a signature sari coat from Azada.

As people left, they were weighed down by bags of wine, iced coffee, high-end peanut butter, and hair products. (And, if they were Colin Firth, a beautiful book of photography about the history of the area.) How annoying, I thought, as I trudged through the rain back to my car, to host this giveaway fest in a hotel on Rodeo Drive. You couldn’t pick a place more packed with tourists or worse for parking. Then, I remembered, celebrities don’t have to worry about things like that.

Reach Staff Reporter Kelly O'Mara here.



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