At first, the South America Mosaic theme had some guests scratching their extension-layered locks about how to dress for the 2019 Crystal Charity Ball on Saturday, December 7, at the Hilton Anatole. Others got right to it, however, deciding to “just go bright” — or to search for a creative designer.
In the end everything came together beautifully beneath the huge South American-themed panels by event producer Tom Addis that adorned the reception area and the Chantilly Ballroom. How appropriate it was, for example, to have life-size photos of the Pampas polo players placed just behind the sleek white 2020 Lexus LC500 with a trunk-full of polo mallets that was being raffled off!
As they arrived for the year’s most eagerly anticipated event through the Hilton’s entryway, the 1,635 black-tie types were greeted by the sound of birds chirping and live models made up to look for all the world like real live South American critters. Among them were a jaguar, a colorful parrot and a Marpesia marcella butterfly, each perched atop a raised platform.
The whole night could have stopped right there, when even hotel guests in shorts and T-shirts crowded in taking selfies with the human “wildlife.” At the head of the entry was a lush green garden, complete with a fountain tailor-made for photos. But Jan Strimple’s collection of exotic creatures, it seemed, was the No. 1 attraction for the photo-taking set.
Pity those who’d arrived from the hotel rooms above, or via other entryways. They soon found themselves going against the grain, like salmon straining upstream for a gander at all the excitement.
Other buzz of the young evening came from Gloria Eulich and Mark Varel, who said they were looking forward to their wedding in a couple of weeks… Newlyweds Wanda Gierhart Fearing and Dean Fearing were making their first official black-tie outing since tying the knot last summer… On the other hand, newly divorced Gail Fischer announced with a big smile: “I’m never getting married again!”… Only a few hours earlier, Louise Griffith reported, she’d been ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. Then she changed into a Carolina Herrera gown for the ball.
She wasn’t the only one! Also clad in Herrera were Kristina Whitcomb, Claire Emanuelson, Peggy Meyer, Cynthia Mitchell, Gracie Hunt, and Tucker Enthoven, next year’s CCB chair. 2019 Chair Pat McEvoy, meantime, was wearing a last-minute Oscar de la Renta in place of the Louis Vuitton that husband Charles McEvoy bought for her last year on a trip to Paris. Meantime, Patti Flowers and Michael Faircloth were locked in a tight race to be named the most popular dress designer at the ball from Dallas.
Patti’s creations were donned by the likes of Kim Quinn, Anne Besser, Lisa Cooley, Robin Carreker, Linda Evans, Diane Frank, Susie Gekiere, Jennifer Gunin, Alison Malone, Beth Thoele and Margaret Hancock. (Margaret’s frock, by the way, was hand-painted silk organza, with a creative theme adapted from a photo Patti took on a trip to see the Northern Lights.)
Michael, however, was not to be denied his share of the fashionable action, with Sue Ann Scala, Stephanie Scala, Tiffany Divis, Carrie Levering, Lauryn Gayle White, Elsa Norwood and Elizabeth Webb in his designs. Lisa Troutt even wore the creation that Michael had designed for the 2019 Sweetheart Ball that she chaired earlier in the year.
Those rounding out the designer scene included Jennifer Dix in Reem Acra (her gown was emerald green, with South American palm leaves embroidered into the fabric); Kim Hext in Solace London; Susan Farris in Monique Lhuillier; Bela Cooley, Ciara Cooley and Candace Winslow in Marchesa; Sunie Solomon in Dennis Basso; Francie Moody-Dahlberg in Roberto Cavalli; Robyn Conlon in Jenny Peckham; Vinnie Reuben in J. Mendel; Piper Wyatt and Wanda Gierhart Fearing in Valentino; Pam Perella in Zac Posen; Marjon Henderson in Aidan Mattox and Olivia Kearney in Mackenzie Brittingham.
In the accessory category, Leiber once again was a handy choice to stow away lipsticks; Jimmy Choo, Louboutin and Manolo tied in the foot race; and Bachendorf’s Eiseman and Sue Gragg were the top gems.
But the hands-down best accessories of the night were the ladies’ dates, who held their own when it came to attire, and then some. Among them were Richard Dix, in a green velvet tuxedo jacket from Edward Baumann Clothier; Tom Mitchell, Steve Solomon and David Condon in Armani; Greg Hext in Burberry; John Farris in Southwick; Dwight Emanuelson in Hadleigh; Vin Perella in Tom Ford; and Mike Wyatt in “a classic navy blue tuxedo topped with a red plaid bowtie.”
In keeping with the South American theme, guests were greeted by tango dancers on the ballroom floor, as violinists atop tall platforms provided the beat for the dancers’ expert moves. Later, a big band-style ensemble played dinner music (“The Look of Love,” “At Last”) before giving way to a very loud disco/soul group that had everyone — including Annette Simmons and Jerry Fronterhouse, Amy and Michael Meadows, Francie and Kevin Dahlberg, Wanda and Dean and Cynthia and Tom — up and showing off their moves. Alas, the musical group was so loud, one fellow said he was going to go home to find out if he could still hear.
Dinner was a feast for most, like Kelli and Jerry Ford, Missy and Richard Fisher, Anita and Truman Arnold, Lana and Todorovich, Mimi and Rich Sterling, Tim Adair, Michael Flores with Douglas Carney, Luanne and Aaron McWhorter and Aussies Margot McKinney and Peter Kedwell. On the menu were a first course of coriander crusted king scallop with corn and wild mushroom relish and roasted corn jus; an entrée of cotija crusted seared beef tenderloin with aji creamy demi, onion chorizo stack, asparagus, charred carrots, cipolini onion and blistered tomatoes; and a delicious dessert of South American coffee chocolate delight. All was complemented with Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay and Ehlers Cabernet Sauvignon.
However, a handful of tables near the dance floor went dry. It seems that the wine service didn’t quite make it there. Instead, guests were left to depend on their water glasses, which eventually went empty and stayed that way — along with their glassware cousins — until the entrée plates finally were cleared away. Upon seeing the table drought, a senior server came to the rescue with bottles in hand.
But who really cared about a late sip? The reality of the night was a record-breaking raise of $6.8M+ resulting from a year’s work to benefit Child and Family Guidance Center, Community Partners of Dallas, Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep, For the Nations Refugee Outreach, Interfaith Family Services, Jubilee Park and Community Center, Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic, Mercy Street, Promise House and Readers 2 Leaders.
For more than 130 looks at the evening, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.