In praise of Judge Wardlaw

The anonymous, female "A3G" is a former federal law clerk whose blog Underneath Their Robes treats federal judges as celebs—"a combination of People, US Weekly, Page Six, The National Enquirer, and Tigerbeat." She recently conducted a reader poll that declared Kim M. Wardlaw of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena the number-two ranked "Female Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary." Judges aren't used to being rated on their looks, but Wardlaw took it in stride. She sat for a long email interview with the blogger and demurred on being very attractive (though she thinks that Kirsten Dunst would be right in the movie of her life). She admits, though, to a taste for judicial finery.

8. Please tell us all there is to know about your fabulous judicial robes! For example: (a) "Who are you wearing?"...

When I first arrived at the district court, Chief Judge Consuelo Marshall shared her robe-secret with me: all of her robes were designed by a retired Hollywood dress designer, Henri O’Bryant. He designed three for me before he passed away. The other two were gifts: one, a departing gift from O’Melveny & Myers, and the other, a gift from the Chancery Club. I keep one in San Francisco, two in my Pasadena chambers, and two at home for other travel. Some are dressier than others and are used (if I can find them) on special occasions. It has never even occurred to me to wear my robe outside the courtroom!

9. In terms of your non-robescent wardrobe, UTR readers have praised your "elegant ensembles." How would you characterize your personal style and fashion sense? In particular, please share...any favorite designers or preferred shopping venues.

The best, most convenient venue is Union Square, including Maiden Lane, in San Francisco. Other places I love are Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Bergdorf’s in New York, and the Los Angeles garment district. Due to time constraints, I am a habitual catalogue shopper. A friend once described my style as “eclectic”-- I love finding new designers and trying out new styles. Despite all that, I’m most comfortable in jeans, which our chambers wears on Fridays.

10. You are a woman of impeccable taste, a lover of beautiful places and things. You and your husband have lived in some gorgeously decorated homes, including your current home in San Marino, and your home in Pasadena before that. You subjected your judicial chambers to an "extreme makeover," which included the installation of a controversial custom carpet that has UTR readers as bitterly divided as this year's presidential election. How would you describe your interior decorating philosophy?

Because I knew that my clerks and I would spend long hours in chambers, I wanted the chambers to be comfortable and elegant, as well as functional. My longtime personal friend, interior designer Penny Bianchi, who did most of the decor in both my homes, volunteered her services pro bono to help out with the chambers. I contributed some pieces from home, brought some from the district court, and inherited some from the late Judge Wiggins. Penny did the rest. By the way, the sea grass carpet has been featured in Architectural Digest. It is considered quite elegant by those who understand style.

Before her appointment to the bench by Bill Clinton, Judge Wardlaw was active in California politics and around City Hall. Her husband is Bill Wardlaw, the former Bill Clinton confidante who was chairman of Mayor Jim Hahn's campaign in 2001. He, incidentally, nominated her for the Superhottie competition.

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