Being a socialite isn’t what it used to be: Gone are the days of dignified reserve and vast charitable donations (representing tiny slivers of even vaster personal wealth). This is the era of handbag lines and jewelry brands, when being a socialite can get you a reality-television show but can’t necessarily earn you any respect. But the ladies of Brooke Astor’s era are not without heiresses. Prominent among them is Lauren Santo Domingo, who, at 34, is in line to receive at least one high-society crown (if not Astor’s, then maybe the one belonging to the decidedly racier Nan Kempner). Santo Domingo has the trifecta of attributes that mark the modern society woman: a prominent role in charity events, a fashionable side gig (she’s a contributing editor at Vogue), and an extraordinarily wealthy husband (Colombian beer heir Andrés Santo Domingo).
She comes from a fancy family.
Her father is Ronald Davis, a former Poland Spring executive (Lauren is sometimes referred to as a “Poland Spring heiress”), and her mother, Judy, is an artist. She grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and attended Kent School and the University of Southern California.
She married into a really fancy family. .
Andrés’s father, Julio Mario Santo Domingo, is estimated by Forbes to be worth $6 billion. Andrés’s brother Alejandro has been linked to publishing heiress Amanda Hearst, and his socialite niece Tatiana is dating Andrea Casiraghi, a member of the royal family of Monaco. The Santo Domingos own a palace in Cartagena and a private island off the coast of Colombia. Lauren and Andrés make do with an $18.5 million 8,800-square-foot Gramercy Park South townhouse.
Her name has been embossed on a thousand invitations. .
Pick a high-profile charity event, and Santo Domingo has likely hosted, chaired, or sponsored it. She co-chaired the Frick’s popular Young Fellows Ball, and she served on the particularly sought-after committee for New Yorkers for Children galas. In 2005, she was tapped by Anna Wintour to “save” the dance after-party for the Met Costume Institute Gala, which the editor thought was attracting a not-fashionable-enough crowd. Now Santo Domingo is on the committee of the main event.
She will stand for no imitations.
Before her wedding to Andrés, Lauren Davis was sometimes confused with a society publicist of the same name. “Lauren from Vogue said she cannot wait to get married so she can change her name to Santo Domingo,” one friend told “Page Six” in 2007. “She knows she’s the real Lauren Davis.”
When she wears a dress, it matters.
A few years ago, designers were stumbling over one another to dress a seemingly endless stream of Park Avenue socialites on red carpets. Then came the recession—and the half-mocking website Socialiterank.com—and suddenly those girls seemed overexposed. The exception is Santo Domingo. “If there was ever a girl someone wanted to dress,” says a fashion publicist, “she’s beautiful and works at Vogue and is married to a billionaire.”
Which means she can wear any dress she wants.
Thanks to her profile and friendships with designers like Olivier Theyskens and Alexander Wang, Santo Domingo gets access to clothes months before they hit shelves, often just off the runway. She even occasionally gets first dibs over celebrities. In 2008, Sarah Jessica Parker wore a Nina Ricci dress to the New York premiere of the Sex and the City movie—only to find out that Santo Domingo had worn the same dress earlier that month.
Because of all this, she commands a fleet of other socialites.
Despite the nine-hour flight and oppressive heat, nearly every single social girl in New York made the journey to Lauren and Andrés’s wedding in Cartagena. The nine bridesmaids, each outfitted in pastels by different designers, included Fabiola Beracasa and Tinsley Mortimer. And heiresses with last names like Bush, Hearst, Trump, Al Fayed, and Missoni endured an hours-long, makeup-melting ceremony in an un-air-conditioned church. Social watchers called it “the first real society wedding of the century.” It was certainly the hottest.