KidneyTexas Kicks Off The Fundraising Season With Fab Fashions, Paper Dressing And Pooches

Having a fashion show/luncheon just two days before the mother of all fashion extravaganzas (Crystal Charity’s Ten Best Dressed) is a bit daunting. Add in the downpour of the decade just hours before the event and you know organizers are on edge.

But KidneyTexas President Suzette Derrick (pictured) had an all-star team in place for Wednesday’s fundraiser for Camp Reynal and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.

For starters, she had the event co-chaired by the triumvirate of Patty Jo Turner, Carmaleta Whiteley and Reneé Winter. There was no way that one penny was going to be squandered with these three in charge. You want an example? Okay, instead of the usual big screens to promote the sponsors, the idea came up to create magnificent fashions of paper for each of the sponsors. But who would design the fashions? Area design students! Where would the paper come from? Every printer in town had been hit for leftovers and had come through, Carmaleta smiled with her delicious cat-like eyes. As she put it, “There isn’t a scrap of paper left in this city.”

Paper never looked so good (pictured).

While the mannequins stood frozen in beauty, the 750 guests acted like sorority sisters returning from summer vacation with squeals of delight at seeing each other and telling about their vacations. Barbara Daseke, who will be heading up next year’s Dallas Symphony Orchestra gala, had just returned from hiking and biking in Quebec. . . Fort Worthy Olivia Kearney, just back from hiking in Aspen, admitted that she had suddenly realized that she needed to update her wardrobe for the week’s fashion lunches and bought a fabulous new gray outfit complete with lacy matching stockings. Bon vivant/eloquent literary Rawlins Gilliland (pictured with Olivia), upon looking at Olivia’s silk blouse highlighted with small mirror jeweling, cut to the chase and asked how one would go about having such a blouse cleaned. Olivia with her bigger-than-Texas smile admitted that she hadn’t thought of that problem. To which Rawlins in his charming southern accent suggested, “DD French.” Jennie Reeves returned to Dallas from summer in Santa Fe via Austin, where she and husband Stuart checked out their newest project, Tiny Texas Houses. According to Jennie, it’s the wave of the future — downsizing. Speaking of houses, Jennie reported that she had been invited to return to Dallas earlier in the summer for a dinner at her neighbor’s house for a VIP, but she opted out. It was going to be a simple dinner. You know, the usual that you have when President Obama drops into town. Jennie giggled that had she been thinking ahead, she would have sold seats on her front lawn to observe all the activity at Dorothy and Russell Budd‘s house just across the street. . . . Brittany Winter, daughter of co-chair Reneé and Dr. David (BTW, he looked quite at home on the runway at the fashion show.) was the center of attention during the silent auction as she squired around Tessa, a 10-week-old Mi-Ki. What’s a Mi-Ki? A very adorable combination Maltese and Japanese Chin that was up for bid during the live auction. Renee reported that Mi-Ki’s don’t bark. . . much because of the Japanese Chin factor. Actually, the Mi-Ki is so small that its bark probably amounts to nothing more than an itty-bitty woof. Spoiler alert: Tessa ended up going for $2,200. And surprise! They pulled out one of her litter mates for another round of bidding, resulting in $2,500 more. Wonder if their new owners Carla McKinley and Melanie Rogers will have family reunions for the pooches.

In addition to the holiday updates, the main topics of the day were

the recent changes of management in the Arts District (the departures of PAC’s Mark Nerenhausen and DSO’s Doug Adam) and a certain notorious article in the recent F!D Luxe.

Then it was on to the Chantilly Ballroom, which had been arranged in a very interesting fashion. Half of the room was for the show, the other half for the luncheon afterwards. Even the runway was unique. How typical of Prima Producer Jan Strimple! It was in the shape of a “W.” Guests seated on the perimeter of the W had no problems getting to their seats. But if you were seated “inside,” then you had to cross the raised runways. Hmm, sound like a problem? Not! Not when you have hunky male models in white T-shirts helping you up and down the stairs. Why we even noticed a couple of gals who found excuses to go back and forth to their seats a few times before the show started just to test the hand-holding of the chivalrous fellows.

KTVT-CH. 11’s gracious Karen Borta handled the emcee duties and did a nice ad lib when the Rev. John Opyio proved MIA. As Karen smoothly admitted he was probably, like many, the victim of the precarious weather that was overwhelming the North Texas area.

Everything about the show went off  flawlessly. Bonus of the day: Jan’s clues about the upcoming fashion season. One got everyone’s attention: Gray on everything, including nails (pictured).

It was hard to tell the professionals from the “friends” on the runway. Two things that they all had in common — looking gorgeous and wearing Stanley Korshak fashions. Nancy Rogers, who had just flown in from Aspen, was front and center giving a nod to SK personal shopper Taff Bakali on which items might fit into the Rogers’ fall lineup.

The adorable kids in the show were both kidney patients and children of the organization’s “friends. They looked right at home on the runway in their KidBiz clothes. It probably didn’t hurt that they also were AWOL from school.

(Sidenote: When children are involved in a fashion show, it can be a real test. You just never know what’s going to happen. But these munchkins were so perfect (pictured) that Smartphones and video cams throughout the room were raised to salute and capture the moment.)

Thank heaven the show lasted just long enough to whet the fashion palates, because tummy rumblings were starting to be heard. Guests moved from the fashion area to their luncheon tables for a marvelous meal of watercress-spinach soup, Moroccan beef salad and chocolate tower of pistachio mousse. Centerpieces by ever-talented Shane Walker not only gorgeous, they didn’t block guests from visiting across the table. (BTW, Shane, who walked away with kudos at this year’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for his chapeau creations, put his services up for bid in the silent auction to design a hat for the 2011 Tea Party.)

And what would such a luncheon be without giving out some pats on the back. Stanley Korshak’s Crawford Brock presented the SK Volunteer Award to Sue Goodnight‘s whose husband died of kidney disease nearly 20 years ago to the day.

The final event of the day was the live auction. Needless to say in this day of fundraising challenges, manicured fingers were painfully crossed hoping that the five items would match their values. It was looking like they were going to make their goal until they got to the biggie — a trip to Ward Lay‘s Estancia Alicura in Argentina via American Airlines valued at $39,000 for two couples.  (Full disclosure: MySweetCharity’s main scribe has worked with Ward for years.) Instead the trip not only went for $50,000, but a second trip was added for two couples and sold on the spot for an additional $50,000.

Needless to say, fingers were uncrossed and high fives were exchanged throughout the room.


  1. Rawlins Gilliland says:

    Well, indeed this was a special event I was happy to attend. (But then, if Suzette Derrick asked me to attend a dance recital in Guam, I’d show up.) But here again, props to the amazing (an overused word used properly here) Jan Strimple who managed to capture & hold my attention during the runway fashion show. At this point in my life I’d rather be attacked by a pack of rabid pumas that see a ‘fashion show’. But Jan manages to make the models look real and REAL good at the same time. Plausible combinations expertly done, worn by appropriate models only rarely thinner than a Rye-Crisp.

    I found the whole thing moving & entertaining at the same time….especially when the people of all ages and colors walked the runways who has=d been through renal failure, transplants, dialysis, the works. What a privilege it is to put a face on this grave & terrible nightmare of kidney disease. And yes, there were more societal heavy hitters in that ballroom than in a Yankee dugout. But I learned early on that when it comes to strong women moving mountains even in stressful times, in Dallas/Ft.Worth, being glamorous is merely an added bonus. As this year’s triad luncheon gala committee proved yesterday & Suzette Derrick shows every day of the week.

  2. Not to over-do my affection for this event, but please….those dresses by local artisan designers, most if not all, in school here…Fashion Institute, El Centro, etc…were over the top fantastic. Mario did TWO…the ultimate gown and then the ode to American Airlines. I was speechless talking to him, his talent so bright I begged for shades & eye drops. I am serious. Insane talents.