Diana Lado Gets Paid to Simply Be Cool
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.
Diana 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.
Essentially 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.
For 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.
Lado 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.
Everyone 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.
This 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.
Halfway 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.
But it's 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.
One 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.
Lado 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.
The 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.
Her responsibilities 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 of-the-moment place.
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 channel.
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, 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.Follow me on Twitter at @myso_callife, and for more arts news follow us at @LAWeeklyArts and like us on Facebook.