Before the first guests arrived for the 2022 Crystal Charity Ball Ten Best Dressed Fashion Show Cocktail Party on Wednesday, September 7, at the magnificent estate of Helen and John Carona, catering maven Cassandra was out front “doing the twist” on a towel. Was it a retro dance trend? No, she was trying to get rid of a spill of olive oil on the walkway leading to the front door. What was olive oil doing there to begin with? Bottles of the extra virgin oil were sitting on a table for guests at the cocktail party to take home as a favor.
But that little slip-up wasn’t even noticed as the driveway filled with luxury vehicles delivering guests. They ranged from locals, like 2023 CCB Chair Angie Kadesky and Dr. Kevin Kadesky, Gail Fischer with Ken Christensen, Wendy and Boyd Messmann, Linda and Les Secrest, Mary Martha and John Pickens, Sunie Solomon, Stuart Reeves with daughter Lucy Wrubel, Lora Farris with Dr. Bennett Schmidt, Marie Dean, Kim and Greg Hext, Libby Allred, Elizabeth and Eric Gambrell, Pat and John Harloe, Emilynn Wilson, Erin Mathews with Priscilla Garcia, Lee Bailey, Lisa Troutt, Anne Reeder-Corley and Paul Corley, Melinda and Mark Knowles, Neiman Marcus execs Daz McColl, Mary McGreevy Jennings with husband William Jennings and Marjon Henderson, to a number of Italians representing CCB Fashion Show featured designer Dolce and Gabbana. Two exceptions to the luxury-car parade were Caren and Pete Kline, who happened to live down the street from the Caronas and decided to stroll on over. On the other hand, Carona neighbor Annette Simmons and her daughter Amy Simmons Crafton in their most colorful summery outfits opted to ride over. With tongue firmly planted in her dimpled cheek, Annette said, “You know we don’t like to walk.”
Ready for the first guests to arrive, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Dallas Region Chair Elaine Agather, who traditionally assumes the role of “door greeter” for these parties, said that in seven more years she’ll mark her 50th anniversary with Chase. Once she retires, she added, “I joke that I’ll become a greeter at Walmart.
But on this evening she had her work cut out for her, with more than 200 guests who admitted they were intrigued to see the marvelous estate. And they weren’t disappointed.
As striking as the 16,984-square-foot house was, the backyard with its huge trees, expansive landscaped lawn, lake with spewing fountain and flowing creek and oversized terrace—complete with koi pond—had heads shaking in disbelief. It looked for all the world like a Lake Como retreat. CCB Fashion Show Chair Jennifer Dix said, “Everywhere you look, there’s something exceptional.”
But it almost hadn’t been. Much to Helen’s chagrin, one of the property’s towering trees had toppled due to the storm just days before, and its removal was undertaken just in time for the party.
John told how the property is visited regularly by foxes, bobcats, and coyotes. In fact, he said, coyotes have eaten some swans at a neighbor’s estate. (Gulp.)
So how did Crystal Charity Ball come to have the event in such palatial surroundings? It seems that Carol Seay, an old friend of the Coronas, was the go-between who arranged things.
John and Helen purchased the estate, previously owned by the late Bobby Haas, about five years ago, and set out to make some major changes (including an outdoor kitchen) to fit their family’s lifestyle. “We knew so many of the ladies who are active in Crystal Charity Ball, when we found out they were looking for a location for the party, we were happy to oblige,” John said.
A special treat on the outside terrace was a marble table with portraits of the 2022 10 Best Dressers (Marybeth Conlon, Tiffany Divis, Monica Eastin, Libby Hegi, Kim Hext, Meredith Land, Karla McKinley, Anne McPherson, Amy Prestidge and Kim Quinn), plus Hall of Famer Pat McEvoy, highlighted by personal inscriptions by friends and family. Meredith later asked organizers if she could get the verbiage accompanying hers. It had been written by her friend Charlotte Jones. MIA for the evening was BD-er Karla, who was jetting back from attending weddings across the pond.
Former CCB Chair Christie Carter had just returned from a trip with friends to New York, where they caught some Broadway shows—an annual tradition since 1999. This had been their first visit to the Big Apple in three years, though, due to the pandemic.
Speaking of traveling, 2022 CCB Chair Susan Farris was a little worried about the arrival of her daughter, Virginia Olson, who was flying in the next day from North Carolina to attend the afternoon show. With air travel being so challenging, she was closely monitoring weather and scheduling conditions.
This gathering was former Williams Sonoma President Ryan Ross‘ first CCB event since being named Neiman Marcus president on August 15. He said he was already in house-hunting mode, with two to tour the following week.
Just minutes before the rest of her clan pulled up, CCB Fashion Show Honorary Chair Gene Jones arrived decked out in a striking orange coat-and-pants ensemble. “It’s Dolce,” Gene said. With a twinkle in her eye, she added, “I’m a pumpkin tonight!”
While the party could have continued until the wee hours, the next day’s two CCB Ten Best Dressed fundraisers required a good night’s sleep.
To get a look at even more photos of the night, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.