Crystal Charity’s “Tis The Season” Was Silver And White And A Fashion Plate With A Couple Of Surprises

Chris and Connie O'Neill

For attendees of Major League Baseball’s winter meeting checking in at the Hilton Anatole on December 3, Dallas must have seemed awful gussied up. Hauling luggage through the Anatole’s Tower in blue jeans and sports shirts, they found themselves in a wondrous snow palace with a royal court. Well, actually it was Connie O’Neill‘s “Tis the Season” Crystal Charity Ball swinging into gear literally. From the Tom Addis decorations to the fashions, the grand old lady of Dallas charity fundraisers was elegant and more-than-grandiose despite circumstances beyond the CCB committees’ control.

Jack O'Neill and Isabel O'Neill

Connie came up with the theme because it’s her favorite time of year when families come together and celebrate. And while her year-long epic undertaking of marshaling the ball itself was reason to pop the Cristal, all of the month was going to over-the-top special for Connie, husband Chris and the entire O’Neill family. Connie’s folks were arriving for a visit and son Jack was to receive his Eagle Scout badge the following week. And then there was Connie’s December 19th birthday and the rest of the holidays.

But let’s look at the ball, from soup to nuts.


Arrival at Crystal Charity Ball

That Saturday night was a wet one and a cold one. To make the transfer from vehicle to the safe confines of the Anatole, a couple of tents were erected over the driveway, and sturdy see-through curtains lined the walkway. The only problem was that rain kept collecting on the tops of the tents, requiring the valets to occasionally shove the water off. The result was more water in the driveway causing a couple of ladies with delicate stilettos and long flowing gowns to do a hip-hop to the dry walkway.

Yvonne Crum ended up arriving at the event barefoot and in jeans with her Michael Faircloth gown and shoes in a bag. Once safely in the Anatole she slipped into the powder room and did a quick change from super casual to super-duper dressed up with nary a drop of water in sight.


The Chantilly Ballroom and its lobby have probably never looked more magnificent. Like a fabulous palace shimmering with a winter glow without the chill! As guests entered the building they walked through a hallway of mirrored walls and lined with faux stone arches and mammoth floral arrangements of white tulips, roses, hydrangeas and a smattering of blue hydrangeas with branches trimmed with tiny lights.

Snow queen and angels

At the end of the hallway was a whimsical garden setting covered with faux snow, white flowers,  greenery and evergreens with itty bitty lights. Presiding over the scene was the statuesque Snow Queen (aka Jan Strimple) and her angels-in-waiting.  For more than two hours, the Queen held high her shimmering 30-pound torch and head dress, while the tiny angels played at the Queen’s feet. (Post gala reports indicate that Snow Queen checked herself in for a major massage on her right arm that had held the torch for two hours.)

Snow angel

Speaking of playing, to the left of the Queen was the silent auction on either side of a huge frame with a lively Frosty the Snowman. In front of the

Davis Dreyer and Charlie Daly

frame were six-year-old Davis Dreyer and eight-year-old Charlie Daly, whose only orders were to have fun playing and behave. Tough assignment! Every now and then moms Melanie Dreyer and Lynne Daly had to enforce the “behave” order.

To the right of the Queen was a sled in a mini-forest setting, the casino and the store for redeeming goodies for your winnings.

Snow village

In the sunken area behind Queen was a charming winter village surrounded by more huge floral arrangements and white circular banquettes. Overhead a faux-snow-blowing machine was spewing out the white confetti just enough to create an effect. . . and to dust tuxedoes. At first glance it appeared as if the entire upper-crust set was suffering an epidemic of dandruff.

CCB Ballroom wall

Once the doors opened to the Chantilly, it was obvious that the reception had only been an inkling of the floral ice palace that lay ahead. With white-curtained walls and white stages set up for tiered seating, the backdrop of the multi-tiered entertainment stage consisted of faux stone pillars with two mammoth scenes of snow-covered trees on either side. No wonder some of the visiting baseball representatives were found wandering around the ballroom with jaws wide open and “Golly!” expressions on their faces. Vigilante guards thanked them for their interest as they escorted them to the door.

The lighting was oh-so perfect. In addition to the right combination of stage lighting, tea candles were suspended at various levels from gargantuan centerpieces of flowers and Aspen branches and lit just before guests entered the room.

Head table

The vast majority of the tables with their white chairs and tablecloths of petals with crystal and white settings only continued the dazzling effect. Regarding the table set up, there was a clean simplicity about it that was perfect. No coffee cups. No pre-set salads competing with pre-set desserts for room on the table. No, those would come when scheduled. They would not be part of a cluttered table scene.

Of course, the major underwriters’ tables were even more splendiferous with even more crystal, glitter and razzle-dazzle.

Texas Boys Choir

One slight problem was trying to move around the room filled with 1600 guests. There were so many tables that even size six figures had to squeeze their way around the room. It was especially tight at the beginning due to the fact that very polite guards prohibited anyone from entering the dance floor while the Texas Boys Choir performed. BTW, the TBC also entertained during the reception. They were staged on the north staircase singing holiday songs in their red and white choral robes.


Dwight Emanuelson

So often when it comes to fashion, the women get all the attention. After all, one can only do so much with black tie. Ah, but CCB’s gents are old hands at the tuxedo uniform and know how to spiff it up, so they don’t look like an army of well-bred, smiling penguins. For instance, Ward Hunt went the tried-and-true traditional route with an Austin tuxedo, black bowtie and snazzy studs and cuff links. Dwight Emanuelson went in the edgy direction with a long tie, no cummerbund thanks to his Isaia tuxedo’s satin trouser waistband and sunglasses. Excuse me — sunglasses? Yup, when one forgets his normal glasses, one must make do.

But still against the silver and white scenery and the sea of black tuxedos, the ladies in their full-length gowns were still the show-stoppers with loads of glitter and décolleté.

Robyn Conlon and April Bright

Sporting the both-bare-shoulder look was 2012 CCB Fashion Show and Luncheon Chair Robyn Conlon, whose tan shoulders looked right at home in a form-fitting Liancarlo highlighted by a diamond necklace courtesy of husband Don and a pair of Manolo Blahniks. “I’m the Carrie of Sex and the City when it comes to shoes.” . . . Her raffle-selling partner April Bright couldn’t remember who designed her low-cut gown (“I will have to go in the bathroom and look”), but she knew exactly where the jewelry came from (the necklace was a gift from her grandmother and the rings were gifts from her parents). . . Best Dressed Pat McEvoy‘s  Bibhu Mohapatra originally had a longer-than-long train. But the former NM-er knew that in a crowd that can be treacherous, so she had it removed and looked

Greg and Kim Miller

fabulous sans the extra trailing fabric. . . Kim Miller looked like a fairy princess in a Naeem Khan snow-white gown dusted with silver and gold sequins. The white fur stole didn’t hurt the look one iota. . .Decorator Barbara Daseke applied her skills to dazzle her ruby red Marchesa by combining her Balenciaga retro broach with a pearl choker. . . Carmaleta Whiteley sorta went bare shouldered thanks to the her Shirin Askari’s design that included a see-through jacket. . . Ashley Hunt glowed in a flesh-colored Lela Rose. . .  Mary Gill‘s white Bob Mackie seemed to actually be whiter-than-the ballroom.

Lisa Troutt

The one-shoulder look was also thriving on the likes of Pam Perella, Kristi Hoyl, Doris Jacobs in Badgley Mischka with Vera Wang earrings, Alana Theorine, Elizabeth Gambrell and Lisa Troutt, whose hot pink raspberry Carolina Herrera fit her to a “T.”

Paige Slates, Alicia Wood and Elizabeth Gambrell

Ah, let’s be honest — low-cut is still an eyebrow raiser. Tutu Chic Co-chair buds Paige Slates and Alicia Wood kept their backs straight as their necklines plunged. . . Tina Loyd, who had created such a stir two years

Tina Loyd

ago at CCB with her almost backless black gown, wore a Tony Bowls featuring a deep neckline, high slit perfect to showcase a right leg and a cut-out back that revealed Loyd’s still-perfect back. . . Lee Ann White‘s holly red Michael Faircloth gown’s

Lee Ann White

teasing neckline was highlighted by a diamond broach and her million-dollar smile.

But such adventurous necklines proved to be dangerous when hitting the dance floor. At one point in the evening, one of the ball’s most elegant ladies had a fashion oops when her grand tetons momentarily rose into sight on the dance floor. Don’t ask. We won’t tell.

Debbie Oates

And, of course, there were accessories galore from Judith Leiber clutches, scads of jewelry to scooters. Excuse us, but scooters? Were they part of the baseball out-of-towners? Nope. The surgical boot of the past season had lost its ranking as accessory du jour to the scooter for those with foot and ankle problems. 2009 CCB Chair Debbie Oates, who was having surgery the following Monday, had broken her heel while putting up garland in her home. Being a trouper and wanting to support her good friend Connie, Debbie  shifted gears from long gown to three-quarters to accommodate her scooter. . . Dedie Leahy wheeled in thanks to a broken ankle she earned while walking the grounds of Montserrat Jesuit Retreat. Seems her left foot went into a “critter hole” and there went her ankle. Her “Roll About” scooter turned out to be hand-me-down from former Dallas Morning News food maven Dotty Griffith, who brought it up from Houston.

Aileen Pratt and Jill Smith

Still there was nothing like jewelry for the fav accessory and it was dazzling with 2012 CCB Chair Aileen Pratt wearing Van Cleef & Arpel earrings and Jill Smith with earrings, necklace and bracelet from Bill Noble, who was surrounded by his glittery

Linda Dodd and Lezlie Noble

entourage of ladies bedecked in diamonds galore including Linda Dodd and wife Lezlie who was wearing a magnificent estate piece.

Harold and Annette Simmons

Ah, but leave it to Annette Simmons to match the evening’s silver and glitter scene with her diamond earrings and white diamond scarf necklace. Course, it didn’t hurt to have husband Harold by her side decked out with a snazzy red bow tie.

But before thinking that everyone spent a bundle on their gowns, think again. Many admitted to waiting patiently for their fashion prey to go on the sale rack or found it at Last Call. One gal even bought a fabulous frock that was three sizes too big and had it tailored down to perfection. Another gal decided that her 2010 CCB gown deserved a return performance.

However, formal fashion proved to be breathtaking in more than the traditional way. A couple of the ladies complained that their gowns were going to have to make a return visit to the tailors because, quite frankly, breathing was becoming an issue due to tight bodices.


Lil' Bits donuts

Leaving a major event is never a snap. It always seems like everyone leaves at once, inundates the valets and has a bad deposit in their memory banks. Ah, but Connie had come up with a clever and delicious distraction even if it was cold and wet outside. She had chefs whipping up fresh, hot donuts and steaming hot coffee alongside the outdoor heated walkway ready to warm the coldest shoulders. Unfortunately, the throngs seemed to bypass the offerings and head to the curb like Titanic passengers seeking lifeboats.

One smart gal admitted that for the past four years, she’s gone to the Mansion, taken a taxi to the Anatole’s front door and done just the reverse upon departure with nary a moment’s delay.

The Great Escape

Editorial comment: The evening’s valet problem was not CCB’s fault any more than other organizations. Like other major venues, the Anatole needs to address its parking strategy. When the Anatole made its renovations in the past, it didn’t take into account the number of local events requiring the coordination of hundreds of vehicles in all types of weather. As it is, the driveway in front of the Chantilly Ballroom has no permanent driveway covering and is too narrow to accommodate the amount of resulting traffic including stretch limousines. The Anatole staff and various valet parkers do a Herculean job in trying to muster up cars and arrange for limo drop-offs/pick-ups, but until the exterior design is addressed on a permanent basis, it’s going to be “parting is such sweet sorrow.”

BeatLeukemia Ball Got All Gold Stars Except For One Oops

Janie and David Condon and Kim and Greg Miller

The October 12th’s BeatLeukemia Ball may not have been the biggest fundraiser. Some of the gals wore gowns from past big soirees (Co-Chair Kim Miller chose one from Crystal Charity a couple of years ago and added a glitter tattoo), while a couple of costumed-types like John Pascone, Sue Golden and  Erika Navarro braved scrutiny by others. Why, it didn’t even have a silent auction, but it turned out to be the little blowout of the season with only one  oops. More about that later.

John Pascone

The entire reception, dinner and partying took place in the Chantilly Room of the Hilton Anatole to benefit LeukemiaTexas. With only 650 guests, it worked out perfectly. The decor was black draping along the wall behind the staging, black table clothes with raspberry-colored overlays, chairs draped in black and a blazing Sgt. Peppers on black T-shirts.

Amy Turner and Jeff Smoke

Pam Busbee was making her way through the crowd with a crutch after damaging her knee while playing soccer with her grandchildren. . . . Speaking of athletes, former Olympian Jeff Smoke was with Amy Turner and her folks Honorary Chairs Julie and Jim Turner. . . .Tincy Miller with her sorority sister Carolyn Wilson, who had flown in for Tincy’s and husband Vance‘s party the night before at Prestonwood Country Club. The occasion? The Millers’ __ wedding anniversary party for 1,000. In honor of Veterans Day, it was an Armistice theme with

Carolyn Wilson and Tincy Miller

cute WWI soldiers greeting guests at the door and paperboys handing out newspapers and shouting, “The war is over!” One elderly gent with his wife upon hearing the paperboys told friends, “Not in our house.” While the buffet action was now-stop in one room, T-bird’s band kept the beat going for the various generations gathered for the celebration. Upon departure, guests discovered goody bags with CD’s of Tincy’s and Vance’s fav tunes. . . Cardiologist Michael Sills recalled attending Woodstock for a couple of days when he was living in New York. . . The reason for D’Andra Simmons‘ tardy arrival was not another party. Nope. She had spilled mascara all over her pink dress and had to find another gown that would still go with diamonds and rubies. Perfect selection was tomato red. . . . Representing a total gold shimmer look was a marvelous short silk

Kristi Hoyl

beige dress covered in sequins that evidently was quite popular since three gals including Kristi Hoyl and Adrienne Akin Faulkner were spotted wearing it. Looked great on each one!

Adrienne Akin Faulkner

As guests settled at their places for a dinner of fall pear salad, filet mignon of beef, BeatLeukemia banana split and key lime cheesecake, LeukemiaTexas Exec. Director Steve Young took microphone in hand on stage and addressed the crowd.

That’s when the “night’s one flaw” took place. The speakers were situated so it was difficult to understand Steve, Co-Chairs Janie Condon and Kim Miller or LeukemiaTexas Board of Trustees President Roger Hendren. At one point in Steve’s talk about a youngster whose leukemia treatments cost in the millions, he was distracted by a far-away-table of guests laughing. Perhaps they, like others, couldn’t hear the “personal story” and were just enjoying their own company.

Still another problem resulting from the poor audio was the Ultimate Music Trivia Contest presented by American Airlines and 98.7 KLUV. It was a simple game. A few bars of music would be played and tables would submit the artists. Alas, when KLUV Music Director Jay Cresswell explained the rules, a number of tables had difficulty understanding the POA until  the first of three or four of 15 tunes were played. Thank heaven, they repeated 15 giving the tables a second chance. Okay, so it’s not that big a deal. A trivia contest? Ah, but the prize was round-trip tickets on AA to any place in the continental USA for everyone at the table.

The Fab Four and dancers

But despite 640 losers, no one cared once The Fab Four took the stage. As soon as the first tune was played by the faux Beatles ala the early years, the dance floor was jammed. No, take that back. It was jamming with as many as could get their feet on the floor.  Even those still seated at their tables were rocking.

Muffin Lemak, Susan Palma and Pam Perella

And to get into the oh-too-cool-mood, trays of dazzling sunglasses were distributed to guests like Muffin Lemak, Susan Palma, Pam Perella and Rand Horowitz.

Janice and Keller McCrary and Cindy Lukehart

Janice and Keller McCrary were such fans of The Fab Four they bought tickets to the fundraiser at the last minute and talked their friends Cindy and Alan Lukehart into joining them.

The Fab Four and dancers

The second half of the program, The Fab Four returned a la Sgt. Pepper era costumes and mustaches. Naturally, the songs this time included “Drive My Car,” “Magical Mystical Tour” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Fab Four John Lennon

The Beatle songs conjured up memories of the past as well as dancing. Julie Turner first heard the Beatles when she was at Baylor. She saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show and didn’t like them right away, because they were so different. Eventually she came around. . . . Chris LeBlanc recalled the first Beatles’ song he heard — “Come Together.” He also remembered as a youngster the family driving to their place in Vail and his father insisting on playing two artists only: John Denver and the Beatles.

Julie Turner


Robyn Flatt, Janet Pollman Kafka And D’Andra Simmons Receive Northwood University Distinguished Women Award

D'Andra Simmons, Patricia Rhodes-Prowse and Barbara Daseke

The Dallas ladies once again starred in the universe of Northwood University‘s 42nd  Distinguished Women Award dinner Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton. In addition to the NU Texas Board of Governor’s Martha Tiller and past recipients like Yvonne Crum, Barbara Daseke and Gail Warrior, the 2011 class of eight boasted three heavy hitters from Dallas — Robyn Flatt, Janet Pollman Kafka and D’Andra Simmons.

Robyn Flatt

Each honoree was introduced by a Northwood student —

  • Danielle Capper described Robyn as “a woman who loves dark chocolate and loves children.” The co-founder of the Dallas Children’s Theater thanked her parents, late husband and children saying, “It’s not about me, it’s about we” and “Inside each young person is a genius.”
  • Abbey Burkhardt introduced Janet saying she had “embraced Hispanic culture, connecting Dallas to Spain and is now Spain’s honorary consul here.”

    Janet Pollman Kafka*

    In turn Janet recognized her special “she-roes” including her mom, her sister and Dolores Barzune, who taught her how to give back.

  • Miguel Ibarra presented D’Andra, who said she didn’t deserve the award, but she would try to live up to Northwood’s principles: honesty, integrity and responsibility focusing on entrepreneurialism and local free enterprise. She then turned the tables on the organizers, saying, “Northwood University, as you congratulate me, I congratulate you, because you are educating future leaders who will make a difference in our society and our global society as a whole.”

Also receiving the 2011 Distinguished Women  Award were Brenda Hill-Riggins from Miami, Stacie McDavid from Fort Worth, Kimberly McWaters from Phoenix, Patricia Rhodes-Prowse from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Pat Kerr Tigrett from Memphis.

The Saturday night black-tie gala followed Friday’s luncheon that included a panel moderated by Christine Meyers Moore on “Achieving Your Personal Goals: At Work, At Home and In Life,” a tour of Northwood University Texas Campus Lambert Commons, and many other activities.

* Photo provided by Northwood University

Big Black Tie Ball Raises $500,000+ And Welcomes Big Brothers Big Sisters International To The Area

Report in from The Big Brothers Big Sister’s gala chaired by Janet Bracken with Honorary Chairs Myrna and Bob Schlegel and their family on October 28:

“The Big Black Tie Ball: An Evening of Masterpieces celebrated the many children evolving into great works of art through the power of positive mentoring. Hosted at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas on Friday, October 28, 450 guests attended the annual gala and more than $500,000 was raised! The proceeds will help provide mentors to the 5,000 children currently waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister.”

Charles Pierson

It was an especially big time since BB/BS International announced that it’s moved its world headquarters from Philadelphia to Irving. In addition, local BB/BS headman Charles Pierson has been named CEO of BB/BS International.

“Relocation to the Dallas/Fort Worth region of Texas makes good business sense. The large concentration of corporate headquarters, the ease of access to international destinations through DFW International Airport, the exceptional Big Brothers Big Sisters facilities and the proximity to the nation’s largest and most successfully run Big Brothers Big Sisters agency all proved relevant in our decision to move to North Texas,” stated BB/BS International Chair of the Board Beverly Benz Treuille. “Additionally, Charles Pierson has the demonstrated leadership, record of accomplishments and fine character to lead our international expansion. This move will benefit our global Affiliates for years to come.”

Charles will continue in his duties as the local BB/BS president/CEO, in addition to his new position.

“I am honored to be leading such a diverse and impactful organization across so many cultures,” said Pierson. “The power of the Big Brothers Big Sisters proven brand of one-to-one mentoring is something that rises above geographic and cultural boundaries. Through the friendship of safe and positive role models, children from all walks of life will experience the positive impact that mentoring can have in changing their futures.”

Photo provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters

Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala Kicks Off The Black Tie Season With Belly Dancers And Joshua Bell

As anyone who just got off a plane at DFW International knows, the North Texas arts community is going through a challenging period. With beautiful facilities and extremely talented artisans, there is still the problem of upkeep. As one very wealthy fella said about buying a eight-figure estate in the early part of the century, “It’s not buying the place. It’s the upkeep that will put you in the poor house.”

Blaine Nelson

Last weekend the grand old arts community, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala opened the season with the first black-tie fundraiser at the Meyerson. When the event was originally put into place earlier this year, it was a different world on a whole new journey to better days. Bill Lively had assumed the leadership of the DSO; Jaap van Zweden was in the driver’s seat of the well-tuned orchestra; and DSO board members were high-fiving each other. That was January 12. Fast forward to April 29, when Bill Lively resigned due to health reasons. With Lively’s resignation, hopes for hefty assistance in gala underwriting went into cardiac arrest. But gala chairs Barbara and Don Daseke, as well as DSO Board Chairman-elect Blaine Nelson, rallied the troops. The show would go on and it would include stellar violinist Joshua Bell having a grand time with Jaap and the DSO musicians.

Along with the announcement of Bell’s participation was the news that the theme would be Indian/Moroccan/Turkish. Along with a sigh of relief that it wasn’t going to be the same old “Beer Garden a la Mendelssohn” or “Drama  with Verdi,” eyebrows were raised as to how it was going to be executed.

Not to worry. Todd Fiscus was on board to make it happen. Plus to attract the younger crowd, too-adorable-for-music Anna-Sophia van Zweden would chair the post-concert party.

Patti Nelson

A sniggling of what was going to happen took place last Friday at Patti and Blaine Nelson‘s home for gala patrons. Amid whispers of rain, guests arrived smiling in hopes that the summer of 2011 was over. Then there was Joshua Bell, who was quickly scurried into the kitchen by handlers before the patrons could discover the “great one” was there. Between us, Joshua may be past 40, but he looked like a starter for the Highland Park Scotties football team — no tie, open shirt, blazer and a boyish smile. He also had just a glimmer of mischief in his eye as he eyeballed the guests. After a one-two rest, he was escorted like the most precious White House resident through the room. Picture the #1 rushee on campus being surrounded by alums wherever he went. “Go this way,” “Now this way,” “These folks want to be photographed with you,” etc.

AT&T ‘s Holly Reed was with her best friend, mom Katie in from San Antonio.  . .  Another AT&T type, Forrest Miller, admitted that he and wife Cynthia were still adjusting to life in Dallas. Seems after living in San Antonio and, before that, many years in Los Angeles and San Francisco, he said, “We thought we were Republicans in California, but we found out we’re conservative Democrats here in Texas.”

Joshua Bell

After almost everyone had been shot with Joshua, it was time for a “chat with Joshua.” Organizers said that Interim DSO Headman David Hyslop would do the interview if he arrived in time. But his wife Sally‘s plane was late, so it was iffy. But what do you know? He showed up just minutes before the interview commenced. However, it was host Blaine who took up the role of interviewer. Joshua didn’t mind. He and Blaine are simpatico.

Blaine asked if Joshua had brought his legendary Stradivarius red violin that was created in 1713. Joshua admitted, “I didn’t. I hope it’s safe at the Ritz-Carlton. Maybe I should call security.” Joshua went on to tell his history with the musical instrument. Of the 400 Stradivariuses in the world, he got his exactly 10 years ago this month. Fell in love with it, in London. Within 30 seconds of playing it he decided, “This has gotta be my violin. I said, ‘I gotta have this’. I keep falling in love with my violin over and over. … I feel very lucky. I’m one of a few of my generation to be able to afford my instrument; it’s not on loan.”

He went on to discuss a plethora of subjects:

Dallas Symphony Orchestra:  “You have a lot to be proud of here. A great hall, a Dallas Symphony that is very highly regarded around the world … I think it really brings a lot – more than the Cowboys right now.”

Football teams: “They’re (Dallas Cowboys) looking more hopeful than my team, the Indianapolis Colts.”

His performance in a subway: He’s “a little bit tired of” the subway story … Why did they ignore him in the subway? he’s asked. Maybe several reasons, he says: music demands concentration, and the people didn’t have it rushing by. They were “checking their texts” he said … to which Holly of AT&T piped up: “Which is not all bad!” and everybody laughed.

The Meyerson: “The Meyerson is in the top tier of great halls in the world.”

Live vs. electronic performances: “There’s nothing like the live experience, but there’s a place for both (live and recorded). The electronic ‘feeds’ the live (gets people into the halls).”

The future: He said we should be focusing on the kids; he works with Education through Music for underprivileged kids in New York.

Another VIP who was initially on the agenda for an appearance was Anna-Sophia, but at the last minute it was revealed that she probably wouldn’t be there. Seems she was swamped with responsibilities for the DSO Gala and the MTV event the following week.

Belly dancers with Steve and Linda Ivy

Saturday was another situation. Unlike the Nelsons’ stately home in the Park Cities, the first sight greeting guests at the Meyerson were colorful belly dancers accompanied by musicians. The earlier plans to have a baby elephant at the front doors had been stowed.

Anna-Sophia van Zweden

Friday night’s MIA Anna-Sophia in a double sari green gown by Prashe with royal jewelry was on the scene with her buddy Ana Pettus. With luscious lips and a more than generous tan, A-S was the homecoming queen of the night.

Don and Barbara Dasekes

In front of a colorful princely tent just outside the Opus, Barbara and Don Daseke greeted both old pals and strangers as compatriots in their mission to raise funds for the DSO.

Before guests can could make their way to the Dasekes, Jose Reyes was one step after the Meyerson ticket takers greeting guests and telling them, “It’s gonna be all the raj!”

Stacey and John Relton

Looking around the Meyerson lobby, palm trees hovered over the dining rooms and colorful flat, low couches were spotted in the Opus, but there were no snake charmers nor turban-wrapped heads. But that didn’t dissuade some from dressing for the occasion. Barbara Daseke was in a jeweled encrusted deep beige skirt and beige sweater with two regal necklaces on loan from Prashe. . . Stacey Relton was on the same page with the theme in her sari gown, again by Prashe. . . Others like Jan Miller Rich and Carmaleta Whiteley simply took a favorite gown and dressed it up with a marvy necklace and/or Sue Gragg earrings.

On the other hand, others just embraced the tried-and-true-couture-names of Carolina Herrera (Faye Briggs and Linda Ivy), Oscar de la Renta (Myrna Schlegel and Doris Jacobs), David Meister (Kaylyn Montgomery), Alberta Ferretti (Julie Hawes) and Escada (Barbara Durham).

Holly Reed

Holly Reed went straight for killer bright, glorious colors with a jeweled top and kaleidoscope of colors in her flowing skirt. Who was the designer? Holly’s secret. She wasn’t talking, but she was with her “favorite fella,” Brad Beaird.

Jeff Rich

But the ladies weren’t the only ones in talk-about-fashion. Jeff Rich in a silver-ish “tuxedo” with matching narrow tie and Bob Schlegel wearing a little western-style tie exchanged comments about their looks. Jeff: “Just wait, Bob, someday that will come back in style.” Jeff went on to ask what period Bob’s tie was from. Bob: “Bat Masterson. When you come across the border and into Texas, they give you one of these.”

Jona Kerr and Melissa Stewart

Melissa and Paul Stewart weren’t talking about fashion. They were introducing Jona Kerr, the wife of the new DSO concertmaster, Alexander Kerr. Seems that Jona has been staying with the Stewarts and turned out to be the perfect house guest. She’s an excellent cook and has put the Stewarts’ kitchen to good use. . . .

Joe Straus

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and wife Julie served as honorary chairs and chatted up DSO board chair Ron Gafford.

After a reception that wasn’t weighed down by a silent auction or raffle offerings, the Meyerson chimes called all to dinner. The blended couscous pilaf salad with dried fruits, pine nuts, vine-ripened tomatoes and field greens was a hit across the boards! The Moroccan-spiced lamb chops got mixed reviews depending on your table. While some said it was the best ever served, others were seen trying to discreetly dispose of the lamb’s cellulite.

But that question of taste quickly passed as the gala patrons and the concert attendees merged into the concert hall for the full-blown concert complete with DSO corps, DSO chorus, Joshua Bell and Dallas Morning News critic Scott Cantrell keeping score.

Before the musicians could lift a bow, housekeeping duties were performed. Joe Straus told the audience that, “It’s the first time we’ve been here. . .  the first time to hear the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.”

Blaine reminded the audience that Jaap was beginning his fourth year as conductor and that the DSO would feature some unique programs during the upcoming season, ending with, “We need you to come back after tonight.”

Then the concert was underway. If you want a critique of the program, you need to check Scott’s review. Let’s just say that the partnering  of Jaap with Joshua was like teaming up George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Both were mesmerizing and delivered with sweet sounds and physical grace. Even an elder socialite, who had dozed off earlier in the performance, was as wide awake as  a Jack Russell Terrier when Jaap and Joshua performed Bruch’s violin concerto #1 in G minor.

Unfortunately, even the finest musical moments can suffer from thoughtless audience members. During Wagner’s bridal chorus form Logengrin, a ringtone didn’t just go off, it continued playing in competition with the orchestra and chorus. Instead of silencing the renegade phone, the owner answered the call and then discussed it with his companion in a volume that was a notch or two louder than a whisper. Guess these folks haven’t seen the movie adviso about such cellular interruptions. Sorta ironic that this no-no took place during the “Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala.”

Jessica Olsson, Meghan Looney, Ana Pettus and Anna-Sophia van Zweden

While the naughty ringtone didn’t receive an SO, the onstage musicians and singers certainly did. Then the hall was emptied with patrons heading to the after-party hosted by Anna-Sophia with her coterie of gal pals including Jessica Olsson (her boyfriend Dirk was in Germany), Ana Pettus and Meghan Looney.

Martin Dondnoe

Providing the musical backdrop for this part of the evening was DJ Lucy Wrubel. Like Jaap, her physical dexterity was noted as she bounced on a tot trampoline and jammed. . .Veletta Lill was using new-age technology to locate her husband in the crowd. No, she hasn’t had him microchipped. She was texting him. . .  Adding to the international flavor of the night was a band of gents in kilts with a Scottish lilt to their accents.

As the older guests exited for the valet parking, the younger crowd arrived on the scene resulting in an age drop of about 20 years. Some of the vintage patrons sat on the flat couches checking out the younger generation in their party wear. One young miss in an eggplant gown with exposed back, got a second look. Perhaps it was the tattoo along her spine. Another gal walked the marble floor barefooted. Those floors can be tough on stilettos.

Among the spray-tanned, lip-enhanced crowd walked Joshua Bell. Just because he’s a world-famous violinist doesn’t mean he doesn’t like a good party with beautiful young people.

TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Item #9: Farm-To-Table Dinner

Alas, TACA’s final item up for bid was to be won by 30 bidders. It’s also one of the most charming gatherings that manages to make a very special spot in North Texas seem like an afternoon in Tuscany.

Farm-To-Table Dinner (Value: $15,000)

Farm-To-Table Dinner

On Sunday, October 16, Lavon Farms will be transformed from a third-generation-dairy-farm into a splendid afternoon of wonderful food, wines from Texas vineyards and wickedly brilliant conversations thanks to EatGreenDFW. Just imagine 15 couples sitting down to a five-course-menu planned and prepared with the freshest local ingredients by Lucia chef/owner David Uygur. While you may just think the ingredients were picked nearby, they will be provided by Local Yocal, a farmer-owned, full-service butcher shop and local goods market in McKinney.

And, of course, the five courses will be paired with Texas wines selected by Veritas Wine Room.

Guests will take home much more than just memories of the day. They’ll also take home a five-piece place-setting of MacKenzie-Childs Majolica Tableware thanks to Neiman Marcus.

Now you know all nine items that will be up for bid tonight at the Rosewood Mansion. Have fun, bid with gusto and raise funds for the performing arts.

TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Item #8: Cabo San Lucas With Kent Rathbun & Marco Busmante

Confession time: MySweetCharity’s Queenie managed to visit the site of Capella Pedregal. TACA had no connection with the visit. With this in mind, understand that this post will be as objective as a three-hour massage by Pedregal’s Irene.

Cabo San Lucas with Kent Rathbun & Marco Bustamante (Value: $38,000)

Capella Pedregal

San Lucas Cabo has become the playground of the smart, stellar and so-well-to-do. If you’re looking for the tourists with the cameras slung around their necks and the madras walking shorts or the Galveston Island fare, you won’t want Capella Pedregal. But if you want a retreat where you just might be sitting infinity-poolside next to Will Smith and avoiding the paparazzi hoi polloi, this is the place for you.

Pedregal infinity pool

Just to enter the property is oh-so much more than a walk up a couple of steps to a mansion. Think a quarter-mile tunnel through the property’s mountain that leads you to the extraordinary tiers of guest rooms with fireplaces, infinity plunge pools, marvelous showers and your own “personal assistant.”

And then there are the grounds with the two infinity pools bordering the very point where the Pacific Ocean meets up with the Sea of Cortez. As for the staff, you’ll swear you want to adopt each one of them. Just watching them readjust the umbrellas poolside as the sun moves to protect guests is a sight to behold.

Capella Pedregal spa pool

Oh, what about the 12,00-square-foot spa with its own salt water pool (shades of San Simeon!) and private rooms for personal treatments including chime massage (has to be had to be believed), men’s facial massages, etc.? You simply will experience a new definition of pampering. Each sessions starts with a relaxing foot massage/soak.

And then there’s the food and more food and more food and more food. Under the direction of Marco Bustamante, food is everywhere from stellar in-room service to dinner at the foot of the cliff with the waves of the Pacific bounding and dancing for your entertainment at sunset.

Did we mention the million-dollar wedding that had the dinner in the tunnel? Oh, shoot! There’s just not enough space in the website world. You’ll have to ask Capella Pedregal General Manager Peter Bowling, who will be at Friday night’s auction. Be careful or you’ll insist that he take you home with him.

Or, you can bid on the package for eight that includes a “hands-on” cooking class with Dallas fav Kent Rathbun and Pedregal’s cutie Marco. Then your party will dine at the oceanside El Farallon.

Thanks to American Airlines, round-trip, coach-class air transportation is provided, but you may only want a one-way ticket.

TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Item #6: Cowboys Stadium Art Tour And Luncheon

Cowboys Stadium is the first wonder of the football world. From being jaw-dropping in size and design to hosting the 2011 Super Bowl, it’s always a hot topic. However, many don’t realize that it’s also the home of a carefully assembled art collection.

Cowboys Stadium Art Tour and Luncheon (Value: $20,000)

The Art at Cowboys Stadium

It’s the perfect package for someone who wants to impress friends, business associates or family. Just imagine having the First Lady of Cowboys Stadium, Gene Jones, host a private luncheon in the Owner’s Club plus a VIP tour of The Art at Cowboys Stadium guided by the collection  docents! And, of course, hostess Gene wouldn’t dream of such a special occasion without a remembrance. She’ll have a gift for each of the guests.

And the really topper for this auction item: Guess how many guests you can invite. 10? 25? 50? Nope! 60 people! And so there will be no muss or fuss about parking, luxury bus transportation will be provided from the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek or other locations to and from Cowboys Stadium.

Don’t forget to take your camera along, because no one will believe you about your lunch with Gene plus 60.

The Dallas Opera’s 2011-2012 Season Will Be Filled With Divas On Stage And The Red Carpet

Billingsley cradle

Lucy and Henry Billingsley have lived in their too-good-to-be-true home for 31 years. It is filled with “wonderful things” that they and their family have collected. Last

Lucy Billingsley

Monday among the jade, art and antiquities over in a corner of the living room was a beautiful wooden cradle draped in white linens and a tiny white pillow. Seems Lucy’s mother, Margaret, brought it back from her world travels 30 years ago for the birth of Lucy’s daughter. In turn Lucy had rummaged through her put-away stuff and found the cradle for the any-minute-now birth of her first granddaughter.

Keith Cerny

But the gathering Monday night was not to admire the cradle, but for the announcement of plans for the upcoming season for The Dallas Opera. Under the tutelage of General Director/CEO Keith Cerny, TDO has been busy and the first crop of activities proved that opera lovers will have a full plate, both musically and socially.

Keith told the very crowded gathering of young and vintage opera supporters the 2011-2012 season, “Tragic Obsessions,” will feature the second-ever simulcast of the Dallas Opera. The schedule calls for the following operas to take place at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House:

In the past that would have satisfied the opera folks. But there was more than the titles and dates. For instance, they’ll be doing La traviata in modern dress and Lighthouse will be “a little bit like Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians” and will be directed by Dallas Theater Center’s wunderkind Kevin Moriarty.

Kaki Hopkins

Then Kaki Hopkins revealed the plans for “First Night” (Friday, October 21) that will take place on the opening night of Lucia de Lammermoor to kick off the season. With the help of Marisa Huckin and Rhonda Sargent Chambers,  Kaki explained, “The red-carpet

Marisa Huckin and Rhonda Sargent Chambers

extravaganza will feature exquisite creations by five of the best fashion designers working today. Each will design a glorious gown inspired by one of the operas of the season — and by the divas who have captured our imagination!”

And the models wearing these one-of-a-kind gowns will be Dallas “ladies of fashion and philanthropy.”

Yes, you want to know who is doing the designing and who will be wearing them. Here you go:

  • Geoffrey Henning

    “Tragic Obsessions” theme: Designer Geoffrey Henning and model D’Andra Simmons

  • Lucia di Lammermoor: Designer Nha Khanh and model Liz Kimple
  • Tristan & Isolde: Designer Abi Ferrin and model Tanya Foster
  • Michael Faircloth

    La traviata: Designer Michael Faircloth and model Shannon Skokos

  • The Magic Flute: Designer Nicolas Villalba and model Linda Ivy

Following the red carpet, a reception in the Nancy B. Hamon Hall and the performance of Lucia di Lammermoor starring Elena Mosuc, Bryan Hymel and Luca Grassi, guests will dine in the Annette Strauss Square.

Suggestion: Unless you’re one of the lucky “five ladies of fashion and philanthropy,” better get that gown picked out because you’re going to be sharing the red carpet with legendary divas of opera.

TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Item #5: Côte d’Azur Retreat

Retreating to Europe has taken on an entirely different meaning thanks to Zannie Giraud and Glenn Voss, Hotel Le Bristol, Habib Loriot-Bettaieb and American Airlines.

 Côte d’Azur Retreat (Value: $19,400)


Unfortunately when heading to Europe, it takes time to break away from the usual big cities and find some charming home base where you can enjoy the true flavor of the country. And then there is the issue of the language. Not to worry. TACA has arranged a private two-bedroom apartment for two weeks in Cassis. If Cassis is not on your GPS, think just east of Marseille in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region on the Mediterranean coast. Don’t be too surprised if some very well-known Dallasites have spent small fortunes to enjoy the food, wine and beauty of the French Riviera and Provence.

Oh, and just so you don’t feel rushed in getting from Paris to Cassis, you have two nights in a junior suite at Hotel Le Bristol.

Regarding that language issue, TACA has taken care of that, too. They’ve arranged for four hours of French instruction and cultural exploration provided in Dallas before you even pack your language for your round trip, business class on American Airlines.

When you’re sitting in Cassis enjoying the perfect blue color of the Mediterranean, enjoy a glass of wine and think of those of us who truly wish we were there.

TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Item #4: The Ultimate Makeover Neiman Marcus Style

What’s art without style, fashion and makeup? Boring!! That’s why TACA put together a package that would make any femme fatale more fatale.

The Ultimate Makeover Neiman Marcus Style (Value: Priceless)

Ken Downing

If Dallas had to submit to the fashion guru test, Neiman Marcus Fashion Director Ken Downing would be in the top five. OK, he would in the top two. Gee, all right, he’d be the top numero uno. Why he probably could have even given Mr. Stanley a couple of tips. No, you’re right. No one could have improved on Mr. S., but you have the opportunity to have Ken’s input on totally personalizing your one-of-a-kind look. No, we’re not talking about an afternoon at NM NorthPark’s cosmetic counter. Hold on to your blush brush for this one!

The winner of this package can take along her best bud (male or female) for the super model treatment at NM’s cousin Bergdorf Goodman’s John Barrett Salon. The team will descend upon you two like  shoppers on Black Friday. How? Here goes:

  • A color specialist will determine your perfect catwalk hair color
  • An expert stylist will give you the cut of the moment
  • The Le Mētier de Beauté color and customer skin care products will be a gift to you
  • Ken and a Le Mētier de Beautē Color Collaborator will create the perfect personal shade of lipstick and nail lacquer exclusively for you and name the color for you
  • Ken will send you this “Ken’s Color Collection” of products exclusively for Neiman Marcus
  • You’ll have lunch with champagne at BG restaurant
  • Coach-class air transportation for two to NYC thanks to American Airlines

Make sure that when you return to Big D, you show off your new colors. The other girls will be a fashionable color green with envy, don’t you know!

Grovel Alert: Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala

Ebby's cake elephant

Guess the reunion of Barbara Daseke and Todd Fiscus has made the season’s first black tie fundraiser a done deal for this Saturday. The lucky 500+ who have tickets for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala will discover what these two have whipped up.

It was back in February that they created a circus extravaganza at the Meyerson for Ebby Halliday’s 100th birthday celebration. Remember? That one outdid Barnum and Bailey with entertainment, dining and decorations including a carousel cake compete with gi-norous elephant head and operating choo-choo train.

Course, having world-famous Joshua Bell performing with the DSO under the direction of Maestro Jaap van Zweden and the after-party hosted by the ever-gorgeous Anna-Sophia van Zweden didn’t hurt ticket sales at all.

Speaking of the after-party, Barbara reported today that they’ve had so many requests for tickets to the after-party, they’ve expanded the opportunity. Translation: you can get tickets to just the after-party. You could probably get tickets to the whole kit-and-kaboodle if you tried real hard. After all, they’re raising money for the DSO and can always set another place at the dinner table.

Call 214.871.4045 or email [email protected]

TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Item #1: Bermuda Getaway

TACA is gearing up for its annual TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Gala at the Mansion on Friday, September 23. Unlike other auctions where dozens and dozens of items are up for bid, TACA keeps its collection of truly unique biddables to a limited few. . . like nine. To provide you with what will be on the block, MySweetCharity will be posting a different item each day leading up to the big night. Oh, before the bidding begins, black-tie-attired guests chat at a marvelous cocktail party a la Mansion style followed by an ever-so-seated dinner.

Bermuda Getaway (Value: $12,700)

Bermuda is a British overseas territory which may explain why it is so terribly civilized and accommodating. But that’s not to say they’re stuffy. After all, whoever came up with Bermuda shorts topped with blazers had to have a sense of humor.

Even the weather is remarkably accommodating. Almost every afternoon it rains just briefly. Some may write it off as Mother Nature having a good cry, but the Bermudians consider it as a godsend. Seems is daily rainfall is its only source of fresh water. The dwellings on the island have roofs and catchments that allow the rain to be gathered in tanks for use.  Ah, leave it to the industrious Brits to recycle rainwater.

No, one of the island cottages is not going up for bid. Think big. Think TACA-Rosewood big.

Rosewood Tucker's Point Clubhouse

The winner of this auction item and a guest will travel first-class a la American Airlines to Bermuda, where they will stay for a four-night stay at the OMG Rosewood Tucker’s Point overlooking Castle Harbour.

Did we mention that Bermuda is also known for its glorious golf courses? They sure are and that’s part of the package, too. The lucky couple will have a round of golf, spa treatment and wine pairing dinner during their stay. To help them travel in style, The Container Store will provide two pieces of Sidewinder Rolling Luggage, an Eagle Creek Rollium Laptop Case and expandable tote bag filled with travel essentials.

Suggestion: Since rent cars are not available for visitors, hire a couple of mopeds and see the beauty of the island. Oh, and don’t forget to drive on a left side of the road. It’s the British way, don’t you know.

Photo provided by TACA