Like a fabulous aria, this year’s Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show and Luncheon seemed to have elegance, class and just a whiff of history. But more about that later.
Unlike years past, this year’s fabulous fashion show opted out on the usual Thursday showing for Friday, September 16. Didn’t matter one iota. The tent-arama was locked down in parking lot adjacent to Neiman Marcus Downtown. And just in case rain was on the agenda, the NM folks had had an awning installed along the sidewalk leading from the store to the tent. But Mother Nature behaved herself and rain was not part of the day. Still the shading was still a blessing to curtail the glowering sunshine. Hmm, perhaps a permanent shade might be a perfect addition?
While the beautiful coifed and dazzling guests chatted and compared sideway looks on the NM ground floors, the upper levels of NM were bustling.
On the sixth floor, Nancy Rogers hosted her annual reception in the Michael Flores Salon. Instead of past Nancy pre-CCB Fashion Show receptions with backdrops of floral display, Nancy’s welcome entry was an archway of hundreds of Calla Lilies.
Time and time again guests exclaimed upon seeing the floral delight, “These are my favorite flowers!”
Pat McEvoy, DeeDee Lee, Ginny Bailey, Anne Reeder, Ann Dyer, Claire Emanuelson, Shelby Wagner, Niven Morgan, Shelle Sills, Gloria Eulich Martindale, Alicia Wood, Tanya Foster and the Perella clan (Laurena Perella, Vin Perella and Carolyn Curl) came, saw, were photographed and entered the salon for flutes of champagne. Topic making the rounds was Nancy’s downsizing her nonprofit activities. Well, gee, who can blame a girl? After years of supporting and chairing major fundraisers, doesn’t she deserve some time off for great behavior?
Another supposedly deciding to take a fundraising break was attorney Gina Betts, who had co-chaired this past year’s St. Valentine’s Day and Genesis luncheons. She’s gonna focus on her family and work.
At 11 the 10 Best Dressed (Anita Arnold, Katherine Coker, Janie Condon, Tucker Enthoven, Heather Esping, Mary Clare Finney, Margaret Hancock, Pat Harloe, Julie Hawes, Piper Wyatt) plus Hall of Famer Honoree Betsy Sowell, CCB Chair Christie Carter and Fashion Show Chair Pam Perella gathered in the Glass House on the second floor for the formal get together. And what do these fashionable types do while waiting for their presentation? They compare fashion notes. Winner of the day was Mary Clare’s heels.
Another was Piper’s preparations. The first timer 10 BD-er was a very smart cookie. It seems that the day before the outfit that she had picked out just didn’t work, so the NM staff and Piper put together a dramatic black Herrera ensemble with leather pencil pants and wool cape. However, Piper realized that it was also going to be a toasty look. So, she snuck an ice pack under the wool top at her waist to cool the situation, Just before going on stage, she removed the chilly accessory. When did the cool idea hit her? Was it online? Nope. Piper just woke up in the middle of the night with this idea and it worked!
Unlike years past where the designer du jour posed with the CCB chair, fashion show chair, 10 BD-er and HofF-er, the show’s featured designer Carolina Herrera begged off. She was backstage making final checks on preparations.
After the official photos were taken, the 10 BD-ers, Betsy, Christie and Pam were led through NM’s back halls taking the freight elevators to the first floor and strolling to the tent’s hustling and bustling backstage. Upon arrival, the male model escorts, who had been seated, sprung to their feet offering the ladies their seats, while the female models were going through the final stages of preparation under the skillful eyes of Carolina and NM Fashion Director Ken Downing.
Editor’s note: One can always spot the NM fashion show peeps-in-charge like Sandy Marple. In the old days, it was a clip board in hand. Nowadays, it’s headsets.
Meanwhile the front of the house was filling with guests, as they made their way from the reception in NM Downtown’s ground level to the magnificent tent that thanks to a mega structure looked more like a permanent store front. Inside the color of the day was white with white runway, white tablecloths, white plates, white roses in centerpieces and white walls highlighted by projections of Herrera models strutting in packs. The only non-white items were the black boxes of Herrera perfume on each tablesetting.
Snapshots around the room included: world-renowned bearded photographer Bruce Weber wearing his signature bandana headscarf… Not present in person but present in spirit was Vogue’s Anna Wintour, who was headed to London for its Fashion Week… Loads of lunching mothers/daughters filled the room (Pam Perella with her mom Carolyn Curl and daughter Lauren Perella; Robyn Conlon with daughters-in-law Lizzie Conlon, Marybeth Conlon and Meagan Conlon; Piper’s sister Ginger Sanders Auer and their mom Dixey Thornton; Gene Jones with daughter Charlotte Jones Anderson; Lisa Cooley with daughter Ciara Cooley and daughter-in-law-to-be Bela Pietrovic; Vicki Chapman and daughter Lauren Chapman; Vicki Howland with daughter Elisa Summers; Gail Fischer with daughter Elizabeth Fischer; Lydia Novakov and daughter Isabell Novakov; Marilyn Augur with daughters Margaret Hancock and Anne Hardaway; Elaine Agather with daughter Bradley Means and Tucean Webb with Susanne Webb, Julie Webb and Erin Webb)… Herrera’s daughter Carolina Herrera Baez and Patricia Herrera Lansing, who was celebrating her birthday… Erin Mathews with daughter-in-law Brittany Mathews looking forward to Sundays christening of Erin’s first granddaughter/Brittany Mathews’ first daughter Sutton Mathews.
Starting the show on the road were the speakers including, Ken, Christie, Pam and NM Downtown GM/VP Jeff Byron.
Another editor’s note: Ken’s comments emphasizing that he and Carolina had created the show surprised some. Perhaps it would have been better for such acknowledgment to have been made by Karen.
Jeff then introduced each of the 10 BDs and Betsy.
Unlike years past when the ladies were escorted up and down the runway only to disappear backstage, this year the ladies and their escorts walked to the end of the runway and stepped down to the floor and stood in a line in front of the photographers and NM staffers standing against the back wall.
Following Betsy’s walk and as the ladies were escorted to their tables, NM President/CEO Karen Katz welcomed the guests and suggested they snap photos on their cellphones of items on the runway that could be shown to the NM staff for immediate consideration. She also encouraged guests to post their votes on their favorite outfits and that she would be checking for which ones got the top votes.
Karen reported that earlier in the week NM had turned 109 and despite with stores throughout the country and shipping to more than 100 countries, “our heritage, our home and our heart is [sic] right here at the corner of Main and Ervay. We’ve seen a lot come and go in downtown Dallas over the years, but we are here to stay.”
She then presented the NM Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion for 2016 to Carolina. The 500 guests presented the designer with a standing ovation. Her acceptance remarks were eloquent but brief recalling how the late Stanley Marcus “was a fabulous man” and “how he believed in me from the beginning.” She then tipped her hat to Karen, Ken and NM Chief Merchandising Officer Jim Gold for carrying on the NM tradition. Carolina also thanked CCB for including her in the event that does so much for children.
Taking the award, she disappeared with Ken and Karen backstage.
Quickly the podium was removed for the presentation of nearly 90 pieces from the Carolina Herrera Resort 2016 collection including faux butterflies floating from the ceiling over the stage and a bridal gown with a cut-out back bodice for the finale. And cellphones sprouted throughout the room snapping away.
There are a heck of a lot of other photos (more than 70) at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery, if you’re interested.