It was just a year ago that North Texas was in such a deep freeze that the Children’s Parade and White Rock Marathon canceled their annual fund raisers. But with grit, determination and crossed fingers, the Crystal Charity Ball Chair Caren Kline and her gals carried on, with guests trekking to the Hilton Anatole like Eskimos mushing to their favorite igloo.
Evidently 2014 CCB Chair Robyn Conlon cut a deal with Mother Nature to go elsewhere. After all, didn’t the old girl owe the area a break after last year’s cold shoulder?
On Saturday, December 6, Ma Nature was nowhere in sight and the weather was perfect for all the months of planning by the CCB team and area upscale retailers. The very theme — Jewels of the Garden — was magic to the hearts of couture salons and jewelers throughout the country. Ball gowns of rich jewel colors were being ordered and were starting to give the traditional black evening wear a run for its money. Jewelers were finding that the traditional holiday rush was more like a stampede, with gents shopping for the right gems to go with the missuses’ attire. Even hairdressers were finding their follicle creations had to be just right to allow the diamond, ruby and emerald earrings to show their stuff.
To provide the proper setting for these decked-out dolls, event producer Tom Addis had created a lush garden with living statues. Wait! The one in the gazebo, the one in the silent auction and the ones by the door seemed to be twinkling under the spotlights. Why, they were! The reason? Beautifully constructed within their finery were exquisite earrings, necklaces, broaches, bracelets and rings provided by Diamond Doctor’s David Blank. The model in the gazebo had a headdress that would have blown a millionaire’s budget of generosity. Unlike his jewelry, David was nowhere to be seen due to a case of the flu that had taken over the entire Blank family.
But before guests started arriving at 7 p.m., key CCB-ers grouped for photos at 6:30. Better to get that out of the way before the herds of black-tied guests and glorious gowned/jeweled gals arrived.
For instance, Robyn was in a Patti Flowers looking pretty darn regal. She also arranged to have her daughter-in-law Marybeth Conlon and son Casey’s fiancée Lizzie Herbert and son Keith’s steady Megan Somerville to have Flowers creations, too.
As for her accessories, Robyn’s Manolo Blahniks were dyed to match the gown. Luckily, her Judith Leiber rose handbag was already just a perfect match. As for the jewelry, she owed husband Don for the Eiseman necklace and bracelet and the Scott Polk/Lyles DeGraizer flower rings to go with the earrings from Diamond Doctor.
Of course, you need more deets about those who were spectacular. Here goes: Alicia Wood was in a custom-made deep purple gown highlighted by black appliques by Kathy Dean, while husband Scott’s tuxedo was by Edward Baumann Clothier. You didn’t think the gals were the only ones with designer duds.
Katherine Coker couldn’t remember who designed her violet gown with splashes of sequins but she revealed that her diamond drop earrings were a gift from husband Key, who was wearing a big smile over his promotion from Dallas city president to Dallas CEO at BBVA Compass Bank.
Claire Emanuelson combined designers — Zac Posen teal-colored gown, Jimmy Choo heels and Judith Leiber bag. Husband Dwight dressed up his Q Clothier tuxedo with a Robert Talbott necktie.
With a handbag by Kotur and Rene Caovilla heels, Angie Kadesky was in brighter-than red Carolina Herrera and had her hair pulled back to show off the pieces of jewelry from Collen Cook, Diamond Doctor and vintage family pieces. Husband Kevin was wearing YSL, “I think.”
Patty Leyendecker mixed old with new. In her hand she held a vintage purse that had belonged to her late niece Suzy. But she went strictly new with a Zac Posen gown, Jimmy Choo shoes and jewelry from Diamond Doctor. Husband Mark was a Brooks Brothers man.
Shelle Sills was wearing a Lela Rose creation of black and seductive lace with a little gold Bottega bag and Lanvin shoes that she got at Forty Five Ten. When someone asked if the lace insets running along both sides of the dress were a bit revealing, Shelle laughed, explaining that the lace fronted panels of skin-colored fabric.
Piper Wyatt claimed to double up on the Spanx for her Elie Saab gown. She topped it off with diamond earrings that Sue Gragg had redesigned from a necklace owned by husband Mike’s late mother. Mike on the other hand was focusing on a Susan Palma Needlepoint “bucket list belt” in the silent auction. Seems that Mike had inspired the handsome creation, which included his list including seeing a Great White Shark, climbing Machu Picchu and Kilimanjaro and attending the Kentucky Derby.
Speaking of cummerbunds, George Longino was sporting a nifty evergreen needlepoint belt with deer and landscape. Nope, Susan hadn’t created that one. It was the handiwork of George’s wife, Lisa Longino, who, when asked where she had gotten her gown, responded, “I guess you would not believe me if I said, ‘Target.’” Nope.
Lee Bailey thought she was in Christian Lacroix, but on second look, she realized she had left the Lacroix at home and was wearing Galliano with vintage diamond earrings and a necklace. She thought they were Harry Winston but who cared. They looked fabulous with Iain Day in a Canali tuxedo and an 18-carat gold Rolex Oyster that he had “earned” as Best Trader for Lloyd’s of London back in the 1980’s.
Lynn McBee was solo, but her white Valentino fur cape was nice company for her purple Marc Jacobs gown, Jimmy Choo shoes, Judith Leiber purse and family pieces of jewelry. Husband Allan McBee was on the gun range in Longview, so his Valentino tuxedo stayed at home.
The Chapman gals were ready to party. Mother Vicki was in an Oscar black-and-pink silk tulle strapless gown embroidered with a cascade floral design of pink peonies that match the pink floral arrangements by Garden Gate. Her pink and black satin pumps were by Christian Lacroix, her black satin clutch by Lauren Merkin and her diamonds from Diamond Doctor. Daughter Lauren Chapman, who was with Preston Evans, was in a Monique Lhuillier raspberry, strapless ballgown with sweetheart neckline and asymmetric bow treatment on the back with Sergio Rossi shoes, Lanvin purse and earrings by Oscar de la Renta.
While husband Charles was in an Ermenegildo Zegna tuxedo, Pat McEvoy was in Reem Acrea with Jimmy Choo heels, Leiber purse and “highlights” courtesy of Neiman Marcus.
Pam Perella went for a red, hot Zac Posen gown with Rene Caovilla shoes, Eiseman jewels and Leiber purse, while husband Vin was strictly Tom Ford.
Neiman Marcus NorthPark Chieftain Malcolm Reuben was right at home in his Armani tuxedo, while wife Vinnie blended designers perfectly — Angel Sanchez gown, Louboutin shoes, Leiber purse and Shourouk earrings.
Accessory of the evening belonged to Billie Leigh Rippey, who instead of designer heels, had a cast on her leg. On the eve of turning 83, Billie Lee chuckled, “Growing old is not for sissies.”
Giggle of the night belonged to friends Ellen Porter and Summer Olmstead. No, they hadn’t compared notes, but they sure share taste in what to wear.
On the other hand, D’Andra Simmons- Lock was in a tomato red Carolina Herrera. D’Andra admitted that it wasn’t the usual look that she has worn, but husband Jeremy though it was just peachy. So being a good newlywed, she accommodated Jeremy’s choice.
Speaking of husbands, Peggy Meyer was in a shimmering silver Dorian Ho with husband Dan, who has been doing jetting back and forth from the West Coast in his medical duties.
There were a couple of guests who were first-timers and were looking for the hot-shot emcee and the livelier-than-live auctioneer.
Sorry. But CCB is strictly an elegant affair, where over-the-top-theatrics just don’t work. It’s been that way since 1952. If you’re scarfing around for that, there are plenty of fundraisers that will provide that sort of fun.
But not all was fashion. It was also action and interaction. The crowds around the silent auction seemed to outnumber those playing games on the other side of the lobby. The line-up for portraits by James French seemed to never end. Mountains of shrimp the size of small lobsters were constantly replenished.
Dee Simmons was on her fourth date with Cary Maguire. Cary laughed that Dee had “emailed me tonight some excerpts from Emily Post,” so he would know how to act at CCB…Ben Fischer was asked if he was buying Laree Hulshoff a lot of stuff at the silent auction. His reply: “No. In fact, I keep taking the stickers off. I’ve done it four or five times”…Robbie Briggs and Gail Thomas were introducing Toyota CEO Jim Lentz and his wife Barbara to locals.
Before the main doors of the Chantilly Ballroom opened, a tradition was taking place within — the photographing of all the past CCB chairs. Of course, there were one or two who were late, but that was to be expected and the gals didn’t mind chatting it up while waiting. But still there was a schedule to keep and the doors to the ballroom had to open on time. With husbands looking on like war widows, they watched the darlings of their lives sit, stand and smile for the group shot.
Then, just as the body heat of the reception was mounting to a level of warmth, the organizers inside the ballroom started the countdown. With two minutes to go, all were warned that when the doors opened a flood of people would swarm in. In the center of the dance floor was an elevated, round stage that would later revolve. For now, it was filled with the 50-member Gospel of Light Choir.
At 30 seconds, everyone was prepared. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Just as the main doors opened, the choir belted out “Happy” and in walked the guests calmly led by Annette Simmons escorted by Bob Smith to her table, where she was joined by Kelli and Jerry Ford and Gail and Gerald Turner.
As the crowd entered, even old timers were amazed at the flourish of towering pink-and-white floral arrangements with drapings of beads, the choir, the floor-to-ceiling panels and the decorated tables with the much sought-after gifts (the children’s book, a goody from Tiffany and the CCB 2015 calendar book). One gal was heard to holler “Yahoo!” Guess this was her first rodeo.
As guests finally settled down at their tables and the choir left the stage, the James Davis Orchestra took over the entertainment on the revolving stage as trays of sunglasses were presented to guests hitting the dance floor.
At 11 the James Davis troupe was replaced by Professor D, and the party partied on.