Thomas Wolfe once declared, “You can never go home again.” Leave it to Neiman Marcus and Crystal Charity Ball to prove that old adage is so off base. On Friday, September 15, the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show and Luncheon was a love fest bringing the more-than-popular children’s fundraiser back home to the Neiman Marcus Downtown flagship.
Unlike the past couple or three years when the CCB Fashion Show took place in the store and an OMG tented venue in the adjoining parking lot, it was decided to move the whole package into the building’s various floors.
While regular shoppers and visiting tourists were surprised at the hundreds of top-tier fashionables filling the first floor for the official reception, one gent was gently turned away from dining in the sixth floor Zodiac. It wasn’t due to his natty Bermuda shorts. Rather, the restaurant was closed for the day due to the CCB, as well as Nancy C. Roger’s reception in the Michael Flores Salon celebrating the 10 Best Dressed (Anita Arnold, Delilah Boyd, Katherine Coker, Janie Condon, Lisa Cooley, Tucker Enthoven, Pat Harloe, Julie Hawes, Amy Hegi, Piper Wyatt) and Hall of Famer Charlotte Jones Anderson. Before the elegant 11 arrived for the Cristal doings after their run through of the show on the second floor, NM Downtown PR Marjon Henderson admonished them that they were to be back on the second floor no later than 11:15 a.m.
For first timers, it was a shock-and-awe moment when they saw how Fancy Nancy, Michael F. and her go-to-Gro designer Nathan Johnson had turned the entry into a whimsical tunnel of greenery, white flowers and rose petals strewn along the way and highlighted by chandeliers. Nathan admitted that he and his crew had worked around the clock to create and install the masterpiece that would be history by noon.
And, of course, the flutes on the silver trays screamed Cristal. You were expecting Kool-Aid? BTW, the “C” in Nancy C. Rogers does not stand for Cristal.
Just past 10:30 a.m., the hostess arrived to greet guests like 2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella, 2018 CCB Chair Claire Emanuelson, 2014 CCB Chair Robyn Conlon, Dallas Snadon, Gina Betts, Vicky Lattner, Di Johnston, Nancy Carter, Angie Kadesky, Mike Wyatt, Vin Perella with daughter Lauren Perella, Ryan Wilson, Debbie Breard, Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner, Joan Eleazer, Bela Cooley, Sue Gragg, Becky Bowen, Dixey Thornton, Ginger Auer, Tanya Foster, Alicia Wood, Leisa Street, Lynn McBee, Nancy Carlson, Capera Ryan, Sam Boyd, Beth Layton, Muffin Lemak, Ann Dyer, Shelle Sills and DeeDee Lee.
In the meantime, the rest of the store was buzzing. As NM special events mastermind Sandy Marple was finishing up with the dress rehearsal, fashion show featured designer Zac Posen arrived with Celine Mariton on the second floor that had been turned into a red carpeted showroom cloaked in black and as narrow as an arrow’s shaft.
On three sides were tiers of gold chairs with comfy red, purple and taupe cushions. Down the middle of the room was a back-to-back row of the chairs. At one end of the room was Zac Posen spelled out in gold on both sides of the runway entrance. Zac was blown away by the reconfiguration of the couture salon that he knew so well. Whipping out his cellphone he took a shot of the room.
Just two floors up,tables were in the final stages of being set up for the seated luncheon. Table hosts’ assistants were making sure that place cards were in the right spots. Even fashion show featured designer Zac Posen’s team had provided mementos for the guests. Some were gifted with Zac-designed scarves and others received Zac sunglasses.
Back to the second floor
Then the bewitching minute arrived with the 10 Best Dressed and Charlotte scurrying down to the second floor for the presentation. Eventually the guests from both the first-floor reception and Nancy’s party made their way to the second floor with elevators and escalators moving nonstop.
As the sold-out crowd of more than 500 started filling the gold chairs, CCB Reservations Co-Chair Paige Slates looked over the setup and smiled. She and Tiffany Divis had been in charge of reservations and admitted that until all the derrières were in place, they weren’t going to be satisfied.
As guests finally settled down, a voice announced NM Fashion guru Ken Downing, who arrived from backstage to the podium set up midway across the aisle from Annette Simmons, Nancy Dedman, Joan Schnitzer Levy, Lee Ann White, former first lady Laura Bush, Sarah and Ross Perot and Lisa Troutt. Like a fashion version of a Texas A&M yell leader, Ken extolled his love and support of Zac — “My mother has pictures of Zac all over the house. There’s not a picture of me anywhere.” According to Ken, one of Zac’s first ventures outside NYC was Neiman’s in Dallas and he fell in love with “his girls.” Upon learning that he would be the featured designer for the CCB event, Zac texted Ken and asked him to put the show together for “our girls.” Ken continued saying the show wasn’t “just a fashion show. The show is a gift from my heart and from Zac’s heart to all of you.”
He then introduced NM President/CEO Karen Katz who welcomed the group and said it was only right to bring the fashion show back to “our house” for the company’s 110th anniversary year. Karen was followed by 2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella and Fashion Show Chair Christi Urschel, who thanked all for supporting the organization providing millions of dollars for Dallas children’s charities.
With that Ken returned to the podium to present the 10 Best Dressed and Hall of Famer. It came off without a hitch. Ken provided the commentary with touches of ad libbing. Blonde Julie Hawes dropped her red fur jacket midway and dragging it the last lap.
Then Ken stepped aside, the podium was removed and the models took their turn in Zac fashions — adorable frocks for cocktail parties, black short shorts and billowing ball gowns. One or two appeared to channel Scarlett O’Hara’s curtain dress.
Highlighting the outfits were necklaces, earrings, bracelets and all sorts of exquisite bling provided by fourth-generation Australian jeweler Margot McKinney, who made headlines when she bought a harvest of 85,000 baroque pearls.
For the finale, it was a standing ovation with Zac doing a victory lap.
Back to the fourth floor
As the fashionable guests made their way to the fourth floor for lunch, the 10 Besties and Charlotte took their places for group photos with Zac, Margot, Ken, Pam and Christi.
Then they joined the others for the meal “inspired by” Zac’s new cook book, “Cooking With Zac” due out in October. Guests donned their new found sunglasses for photos. Fancy Nancy sent bottles of Cristal to the10 BD tables. Ken and Zac shouldered it up. Karen joined up with three generations of Jones girls (Gene, Charlotte and Haley Anderson)…Christi celebrated with her mom Linda Carter, husband Hal Urschel and BFF Sarah Perot.
As the guests dined on the fourth floor, a truck parked along South Ervay was being loaded with the gold chairs, the black showroom was being disassembled and the couture salon was back in business.