For Dallas shopaholics, the Salvation Army Fashion Show & Luncheon is a four-ringed circus. Everything from shopping to chomping takes place with thanks to the couture closets of some of Dallas’ stellar fashionistas (Pam Busbee, Virginia Dykes, Patti Flowers, Mary Gill, Vicki Howland, Ramona Jones, Sara Martineau, Sharon McCullough, Billie Leigh Rippey, Lillie Romano and Tucean Webb to name a few) and generous retailers like Elements, Stanley Korshak and Betty Reiter.
After last year’s tented event in a thunderstorm, the 2012 Co-chairs/mother/daughter team of Mary Lee Cox and Therese Rourk decided to head to the Fairmont for their Salvation Army fundraising effort. It was a big understanding to take up the Venetian Room, Regency Ballroom, International Ballroom and everything in between, but it worked. . . except for one itty-bitty oops. But more about that later.
In the first ring was the Chic Boutique in the Venetian Room, where it looked like Filene’s basement with loads of rolling rods brimming with all types of clothes. Across the back of the room was a mega-changing area where shoppers could try on their potential buys. As for the clothes, they were almost as amazing as the prices. Some customers had to put on their glasses to actually believe the prices on the clothes.
Adding to the “WOW!” factor were the 10 racks of clothes that were donated by the late Nancy Hamon estate. One friend of the late legendary philanthropist sounded a bit wistful as a woman walked by — “She’s got Nancy Hamon’s black boa.”
Upon hearing that the Hamon estate had made a major contribution, the petite Nancy Dedman‘s eyes and mouth formed perfect “O’s.” She and Pat McEvoy dove into the racks like true retailing vets.
Chic Boutique manager Betty Reiter had been setting up the temporary shop for two days. When one customer asked Betty’s advice about a nifty suit, Betty responded, “It was great 20 years ago when I wore it.”
But don’t go thinking it was richly done rags only. No, sireeee. To the immediate right of the entry on the upper level were shoes. Yvonne Crum birddogged an amazing gold field of Ferragamos. Seems that during her days of “skywalking,” Ferragamos were a godsend for her feet. Toward the back of the upper tier were hats and belts.
Alas, the tables of purses were pretty much picked clean within the first half hour of the Chic’s opening. Don’t you know that Dallas lasses love their handbags. . . even if the sign may be missing a letter.
While some proudly carried off their booty, others like a certain very, very, very wealthy wife asked not to be photographed shopping the racks.
One of the favorite traditions among some of the guests is to wear past purchases like B.J. Ward, who wore a Bill Blass that she bought at the luncheon 20 years ago.
As purchases were processed, the ladies started moving upstairs via the escalator for the fashion show in the Regency Ballroom on the next floor. No problem because the ladies didn’t hit the lone up escalator all at once
Event producer Jan Strimple admitted that some alterations had been made to some of the outfits. Alterations? removing a large puffed 80′s sleeve (like the Louis Feraud in scene #2), or shortening the dress to a current cocktail length (like the Mary McFadden in scene #1), or showing the Geoffrey Beene as a dress, when it came to us as an 80′s tunic and long skirt (scene #1).
The seating took a little doing since there was no chart and guests tried to figure out where their place was, but these gals are pros and eventually found their places, so the show was underway.
Emcee Pat Smith surprised the group with the appearance of her husband Emmitt, who told the group how the Salvation Army had played an important part in his childhood and for his family.
After recognizing many past chairs, Honorary Chairs/sisters-in-law Karen Jones and Lori Jones and others, the show was underway based on the theme, “Remembering the Past. . . Looking to the Future.”
It was a home run. Jan later admitted, “The scenes I’ve had so many comments on were scene 4 and 5. Scene 4, The Modern Ms. was all about the new mash-up. The message was that as women, we put pieces together differently today than we did ten years ago. And certainly different than our mothers did in the 80′s. Our goal with that was to encourage women to be brave and have some fun when they dress. Had at least a dozen comments on how bold the combinations were and how much the audience enjoyed that styling! We savor that kind of response to our work on this show.
“Scene 5, Poetic Dressing was obviously purposefully dramatic and supported by emotionally rich music. Obtaining so many pieces from Nancy Hamon’s estate inspired that scene, as Nancy had a flair for the dramatic and her closet reflected that preference.”
Jan was understating the close of the show with Poetic Dressing. It started with models walking the runway in an assortment of black Prada, Bonavitacola, Studio 6, Victor Costa, Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass. When the last model had completed her walk, the group lined up on either side of the catwalk and a bride in an exquisite custom-made ivory wedding gown slowly made her way the full length of the runway.
Yes, Nancy would have loved it. As the show closed, the ladies took on the challenge of moving from the second floor’s Regency Ballroom to the International Ballroom on the ground level via a escalator that required one-person-at-a-time, no doubling up. Some eyebrows were raised at the thought of moving that number of women in such a manner. Might it take all afternoon? Nope. These ladies with nary a muss or fuss got downstairs perfectly to settle down for lunch and to compare their purchases.
And that’s where the itty-bitty oops took place. The salad (farmers market baby lettuce, vine ripened tomatoes, goat cheese and candied walnuts with lemon-thyme vinaigrette) was followed by what one guest described as “kitty cat food.” Well, yes, it was filet of salmon with lemon beurre and wildflower honey-glazed chicken breast, but the lunch bunch has dined on that combination many times at various fundraising events. However, this time the grumbling resulted from the chicken be so challenging to cut that one woman threatened to ask for a steak knife.
On the other hand, another guest, who simply skipped the entree, smiled and said, “This is my idea of a great meal — just a salad and dessert.”