For a second year, the Neiman Marcus Downtown parking lot was transformed into a lavish tented ballroom for the Crystal Charity Ball Ten Best Dressed Luncheon on Friday, September 18. The annual fundraiser had sold out within two days of tickets going on sale in May. A handful went for $500 and the rest went for $1,000 and $2,000 a head.
But before the 476 guests took their places in the decked-out digs, a reception was held in the store’s ground level, and none of the 10 best dressed (Katherine Coker, Janie Condon, Heather Esping, Julie Hawes, Ashley Tripplehorn Hunt, Margaret Hancock, Pat Harloe, Patty Leyendecker, Francie Moody-Dahlberg and Christi Urschel), Honorary Chair Ruth Altshuler nor Hall of Fame Honoree Sarah Perot were in sight. Where were they? Upstairs being once-overed by NM staffers, and then they took an express elevator to the sixth floor for Nancy Rogers’ champagne toast to the honorees and friends in the Michael Flores Salon.
Once again the Salon’s entry was a season upstager. While last year the entrance was a voluptuous cascade of flowers, this year it was an even grander bouquet, but with a splash of giggles. As guests approached the salon, they were astounded by the towering walls of multi-color hydrangeas and orchids on either side of the entrance. As their heads shook from side to side at the floral masterpiece, the guests stopped dead in their stilettoed tracks and pointed in delight at hands poking out of the walls with flutes of champagne. Talk about the photo backdrop of the year for gals like Patsy Donosky, Nancy Ross, Tucker Enthoven, DeeDee Lee, Piper Wyatt, Tanya Foster, Caren Kline, Nancy Carter, Shelle Sills, Mary Black and Annika Cail. Even Lady Rogers couldn’t resist cellphotoing buds Olivia Kearny and Leisa Street accepting their morning wake-me-up beverage. Dwight Emanuelson rushed into the salon so fast he hardly noticed the hands beckoning with flutes. And, no, these weren’t mechanical hands. A couple of servers stood tirelessly on the other side of the wall serving up the bubbly.
Ruth graciously posed against the bouquet bonanza but took a pass on the champagne and opted for a glass of orange juice. The 91-year-young admitted that it had been ages since she had strolled the catwalk and thought the OJ would be a better choice.
On the side a member of the Gro Floral & Event Design was asked what would happen to the walls after the reception was over. She replied that the frames of flowers would be disassembled and taken back to their workshop. BTW, Gro is also designing the look of the Thursday, November 12th ReuNight that Nancy is co-chairing with Robert Weatherly at Oak for The Family Place. Hmm, can’t wait to see what they come up with on that night!
Promptly at 11, the sixth-floor festivities were minus the 10 Best Dressed, Ruth and Luncheon Chair Mary Clare Finney, who headed to the second floor Couture Salon to join Sarah for a “class picture” with Oscar de la Renta designer Peter Copping. While waiting for the entire group to gather, grandmum Marilyn Augur, mum Margaret Hancock and daughter Mary Margaret Hancock posed for a three-generation photo. The Augur clan wasn’t the only mum-daughter present. NM Exec Wanda Gierhart arrived on the scene with her 12-year-old daughter Celese.
After a couple or three head counts all were present except for CCB Chair Michal Powell. With a schedule to keep, the decision was made to go ahead with the photo and head to the tent’s backstage, while the rest of the guests took their assigned places in the mammoth tent with blue and white patterns moving on the side walls and the front of the room in pure white except for the Oscar logo displayed, not too big, not too small, just right on both sides of the stage.
As for the crowd filling every seat, it was pretty darn knock-out itself. NM CEO Karen Katz chatted with the late Oscar de la Renta’s stepdaughter Eliza Bolen and her husband Alex Bolen, who is CEO of Oscar de la Renta…Realtors Erin Mathews, daughter-in-law Brittany Mathews and Ellen Terry; just back from Africa trekking D’Andra Simmons; Barbara Daseke, who is chairing TACA Custom Gala Auction, the “Creep” dinner and Art In Bloom; 10 Bestie husbands Ross Perot Jr., Kevin Dalhberg and David Donosky, who admitted that he thought wife Janie “looked hot” in her red Oscar outfit; Fort Worth’s Mercedes Bass was with banker Elaine Agather; NM’s Jim Gold discussed business with Peter Copping.
Arriving with her Secret Service entourage, former First Lady Laura Bush joined her gal pals at a front row table on the “50-yard line” of the runway that included Lee Ann White, Nancy Dedman, Kelli Ford, Joan Schnitzer Levy and a glowing Annette Simmons. On the other side of the runway were Nancy’s tablemates including Gina Betts, Michael Flores and the other beautiful peeps.
Once the lights dimmed, NM Downtown GM/VP Jeff Byron welcomed the hundreds and introduced Karen Katz, Michal Powell and Mary Clare Finney. Then Jeff returned to the podium announcing the 10 Besties along with their contributions to the community. Of course, they were all in Oscar designs and escorted by gorgeous male models. Following the 10, Sarah was presented and she was followed by Ruth, who was greeted by a standing ovation. In typical Ruth fashion, she waved the crowd down and they didn’t obey continuing to stand applauding.
As outside traffic could be heard, the parade of Oscar resort collection was on the runway followed by lunch.
As one guest smiled over lunch, “I bet you’ll see a lot of Oscar at the ball.”