There’s always a bit of nerves/anxiety behind the scenes for a big event … or even a little one. But on the days leading to the legendary Crystal Charity Ball Ten Best Dressed Fashion Show at Neiman Marcus Downtown on Friday, September 13, the edge was a little greater than decades before. After all, longtime NM vets like production queen Sandy Marple and fashion czar/emcee Ken Downing had moved into the memory books during the past year, leaving Sandy’s young protégé Marjon Henderson in charge. And there was the question of who would be emcee to introduce the 2019 Ten Best Dressed (Delilah Boyd, Lisa Cooley, Tiffany Divis, Jennifer Dix, Cate Ford, Cara French, Amy Hegi, Karla McKinley, Amy Prestidge and Kimberly Schlegel Whitman) and Hall of Famer Francie Moody Dahlberg. Adding to the angst, it was also Friday the 13th.
Bets were placed that the event would be having a few oops and OMGs. Lucky were those who bet against the naysayers. The whole thing from the first-floor reception to the fourth-floor luncheon went off without a hitch, with 2019 CCB Chair Pat McEvoy, Fashion Show Chair Ola Fojtasek and Marjon never missing a beat.
The NM mothership once again proved her ability to handle such an event. While the 2019 CCB Ten Best Dressed reception was set up with servers standing ready with trays of beverages to greet guests on the main floor, the second floor had been reconfigured to accommodate the fashion show as well as the behind-the-scenes preparation of models. The fourth floor was brimming with tables covered in blue-and-white tablecloths for the post-presentation seated luncheon. And, one-third of the sixth floor’s Zodiac Room had been transformed into a luxury lounge for Fancy Nancy C. Rogers‘ annual champagne toast to the BD-ers, HOFamer and friends.
But before the day officially got underway, a presentation rehearsal’s start was delayed. A couple of the Ten BD-ers — three-timers Lisa Cooley and Amy Hegi — were late. But the two MIAs were oldtimers at the drill, so the rehearsal got underway without them.
Serving as this year’s emcee was Charlotte Jones. It made perfect sense to have her in place. After all, she not only was a second-generation Hall of Famer, she was right at home addressing any size crowd. Charlotte arrived straight from a Highland Park High School pep rally wearing a HP T-shirt.
Meantime, Neiman Marcus CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck was riding the escalators, checking out the arrangements. He especially wanted to make sure that the sixth floor was up to snuff for Nancy — and for his husband, Alvise Orsini, who had recently designed the restaurant’s new look that was getting rave reviews.
Also working all the floors were CCB-er Cheryl Joyner and her gal squad selling chances tickets. By the end of the day, they had sold an impressive $75,000 worth.
At 10:30 a.m., guests started arriving curbside, stepping onto pink carpeting that had been installed from the sidewalk through the ground level for the CCB reception. While most guests partied fashionably, a few went straight to an elevator for an express ride to Nancy’s champagne reception.
When some first-timers disembarked the elevator, they thought they had arrived at the wrong floor. Gone were the tables and chairs. Instead, there were elevated seating areas, mannequins in Herrera fashions and fall floral arrangements to complement the room’s jewel colors. Even the entrance to the Michael Flores Salon had disappeared behind a floral wall and a hand-tufted loveseat.
Standing out among the crowd were some tall gents like Chuck Steelman introducing his out-of-town guests like Lorena Kieser and Sarah Shrewsbury to equally towering Geoffroy. And, speaking of height, Geoffroy and Chuck weren’t the only ones on the floor who topped six feet. One poor innocent made the mistake of asking, “Who’s the basketball player?” It was 6’10” tennis phenom John Isner (aka husband of jewelry designer Madison McKinley and son-in-law of Ten Best Dresser Karla McKinley). Madison and John are expecting Baby #2 in October.
Over on the right side of the room, guests buzzed around hostess Nancy, who proved as popular as NorthPark’s Santa in December. Seated with her was her San Francisco fashionable friend Marybeth Shimmon.
While cellphones were a-blaze, snapping shots of friends and family, a couple of presidents — new NM President/Chief Merchandising Officer Lana Todorovich and Hererra President Emilie Rubinfeld — joined Alvise and NM Executive VP of Stores/Retail Experience David Goubert.
While all this was going on, guests including Annette Simmons, Laura Bush, Gene Jones, Lee Ann White, Dedman gals (Nancy and Rachal), Lana Andrews, 2020 Sweetheart Ball Chair Anita Arnold, Kelli and Jerry Ford, Joan Levy, NorthPark ladies (Nancy Nasher and Kristen Gibbins), Dolce & Gabanna’s first muse Marpessa Hennink with Lisa Troutt and her mom Martha Copeland, Robyn Conlon with daughter-in-law Megan Conlon, Diane Brierley, Shelle Sills, Nancy Carter, Beth Layton, Gloria Eulich, Laura Neely, Mary Clare Finney with daughter-in-law Katy Brooks, Caren Kline, Lara Tafel, Heather Furniss, Tracy Cheatham, Dallas Snadon, Kathleen Hutchinson and Jamie Williams took their places along the runway. Seated on the second row at the end of the runway were the 2019 Ten Best Dressed husbands (Sam Boyd, Clay Cooley, Paul Divis, Richard Dix, Jeremy Ford, Jim French, Peter Hegi, Mark McKinley, Corey Prestidge and Justin Whitman).
MIA this year was Australian jewelry designer Margot McKinney, who had been waylaid by a case of the flu. Still, her jeweled creations were the talk of the backstage dressing rooms. Delilah Boyd’s pearl necklace was highlighted with a mammoth blue sapphire that matched Delilah’s blue eyes. Jennifer Dix reported that her drop earrings were so versatile, you could rearrange the placement of jewels. Amy Hegi’s strand of gems shown against her black sweater and it should have, checking in at $2M.
And, speaking of gems, well-known shoe-loving 2019 CCB Chair/past 10 Best Dresser Pat McEvoy’s stilettos were literal jewels. The Chanel black heels with pearl broaches literally stopped conversations. Pat revealed that the jewel could be removed for normal wear. Oh, asked one practical type, “You mean when you had to have them cleaned?” Pat laughed and admitted she hadn’t worn them enough to send them to the cleaners. BTW, don’t even bother calling Chanel. These babies were gobbled up before they hit the floor.
NM history trivia: Back when the late Stanley Marcus was calling the shots at NM, Pat was a buyer. When it came to needing a model for a youngish look, he would draft Pat into action.
Then it was time for the show to get underway, with Charlotte Jones providing a certain amount of energy and self-effacing humor about her father Jerry Jones. Having been a member of the football Hall of Fame, he asked his daughter what it would take for him to land in the CCB Hall of Fame. She told him that he would have to shake his legs, have his nails done, wear stilettos, raise millions of dollars for charities, etc. On second thought, Jerry told Charlotte that he thought running the Dallas Cowboys was easier.
After a welcome by Geoffroy, McEvoy and Ola, the presentation of the 10 BD-ers and Francie got underway, followed immediately by a presentation of Hererra’s resort collection. Following the models’ finale, designer Wes Gordon walked the runway to a standing ovation.
While guests made their way to the fourth-floor luncheon, the 10 BD-ers and Francie took their places for group photos with McEvoy, Ola and Wes. They weren’t through, though. As soon as the last photo was snapped, they were whisked backstage to part company with their McKinney hardware.
Alas, the luncheon menu got mixed reviews. The good news was the desserts (chocolate and salted caramel tart and bananas foster mousse) drew a hearty thumbs-up. On the other hand, the entrée (hearts of palm and mushroom ceviche salad with radish, cucumber, avocado, micro herbs, coconut and ginger leche de tigre dressing; jumbo lump crab brioche round, meyer lemon aioli and daikon sprouts; and lemongrass and coconut poached chick, sweet potato, herbs and gai lan) didn’t fare as well. While it left some guests hungry for more, others were delighted that their fall weight-loss programs hadn’t suffered. After all, it was predominantly a ladies luncheon and calories do count.
And the day of change didn’t end inside the store. There was the end-of-event fetching of the vehicles. In past years, retrieving cars meant cooling stilettos for a while, despite having state-of-the-art-technology texting for retrieval. This time, guests were told there would be no texting … just hand over the ticket to the valets, and the vehicle would arrive ASAP. And, that’s just what happened. (Okay, so a couple of guests did have their Rolls parked curbside at the NM Commerce entrance.)
And speaking of Rolls perks, Lee Bailey, upon approaching NM, was waved over by The Joule Hotel team, who took over her wheels. Perhaps she thought they were just helping out their NM neighbors. But when she went to retrieve her newest addition, she checked out The Joule parking lot, formerly known as the NM parking lot, and didn’t see her vehicle. Then, as she approached The Joule stand to find out where her car was, she spied it parked in front of the luxury hotel.
There are still more photos of the faces and fashions at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.