While memories of the 2022 Crystal Charity Ball Ten Best Dressed Fashion Show featuring Dolce and Gabbana’s amazingly unconventional fashions for a morning and an afternoon presentation at Neiman Marcus NorthPark still were serving as luncheon fodder, the 2023 CCB Fashion Show did a 180° turn on Friday, September 8.
Returning to its NM Downtown home turf for the multi-level extravaganza, the event had ever-adorable designer Adam Lippes making a brazen break from the much-vaunted New York Fashion Week’s spring and summer showings. With fairy godmother Nancy C. Rogers’ encouragement, Adam opted instead to present his 2024 spring/summer collection in Dallas benefiting CCB.
As a show of support, the too-fast-to-believe sold-out show had all the earmarks of the legendary occasion with the Class of 2023 Ten Best Dressed, including Marybeth Conlon, Monica Eastin, Libby Hegi, Kim Hext, Meredith Land, Anne McPherson, Wendy Messmann, Lisa Rocchio, Kim Quinn and Sunie Solomon and Hall of Famer Claire Emanuelson.
Gone were the problems of past CCB Fashion Shows at the NM flagship, like the valet challenges. Where in the past shipping trucks had gobbled up most of the curbside space, this time there wasn’t a delivery truck in sight. Instead, there was a legion of parkers ready and eager to greet and accommodate guests.
Upstairs, the second-floor couture area had been transformed into an elegant showroom, with three tiers of seating on three sides of the room. Down the center of the room was a line of back-to-back chairs.
As dedicated NM staffers vacuumed the ultra-white carpeting to pristine elegance, the day’s run-through got underway. When the banks of lights came on, the combination of lights and carpeting was almost blinding. But during the rehearsal, a problem arose. The carpeting that was thicker than a king-size mattress was proving a stiletto challenge for models and 10 Best Dressers. As is, it wouldn’t be a walk in the park.
But not to worry. Thanks to the behind-the-stage stylists and talented NM professionals, adjustments were made to the models’ Manolo Blahniks. The 10 BDers looked grateful for gentlemen escorts to steady the walk.
Then there was the problem of the photographers. Due to Adam’s breaking from tradition, his team needed to find the best angles to submit photos of the Dallas event to magazines and social media outlets. That meant that other photographers found themselves sequestered behind columns or wedged into corners on the top row.
And speaking of photography, another coordination issue arose. Back in the dressing room, a conversation was underway that made negotiations between Ukraine and Russia look like a square dance.
NM staffers were worried that the 10 BD-ers’ gowns might not look pristine enough if they were worn for a pre-show photo and then to Nancy Rogers’ traditional reception upstairs in the Zodiac Room. The other side pointed out how waiting to do the group photo shoot until after the show would result in a chaotic scramble.
As the dust settled, it was decided to take advantage of the fact that all the players — including Adam, NM President/Group Customer Insight Head Ryan Ross and mistress of ceremonies Charlotte Jones — were already on hand and ready to have their dang photo taken.
After the final shot was snapped, the 10 BD-ers and Claire returned to their dressing rooms to don blue personalized robes provided by Nancy Rogers, and then to head up to the sixth floor for a private reception. There, family and friends included Gina Betts, Gail Fischer, NM VP/Market (NorthPark and Downtown) General Manager Scott Mitchell, Robbie Kruithoff and husbands like Steve Solomon and Claire’s husband, Dwight Emanuelson, her father, Dick Stephens, her sons and daughters-in-law (Hillis and Lindsey Emanuelson and James and Tiffany Emanuelson) plus Shelby Wagner, who’s working with Claire on the Kips Bay Decorator House President’s Dinner on Thursday, October 5.
In the meantime, the dedicated NM staffers scurried to re-assemble the line-up of chairs, and the diligent couture staff reported that the Lippes outfits remained perfect.
But as the clock ticked down to showtime, the reception on the NM ground level was ending and Nancy’s guests began arriving on the second for the presentation. What a gathering of notables like Gene Jones, Lee Ann White, Joan Levy, Amy Prestidge, Cami Goss, Capa Aikman, Alyson Girffith, Julie Butler up from Houston, DeeDee Lee, Ginny Bailey, Stacey McCord, Linda Custard, Mary Clare Finney, Nancy Carlson, Capera Ryan, Tracy Lange, Tiffany Divis, Lynn McBee, Nancy Carter, Cynthia Mitchell, Leisa Street, Laurie Sands Harrison, Paige Lane and mother-daughter types like Kelli O. Ford and daughter Electra Ford, Lisa Cooley and daughter Ciara Cooley Biggers, Erin Mathews and daughter-in-law Brittany Mathews, Robyn Conlon and daughter-in-law Megan Conlon and granddaughter Quinn Conlon were on hand to watch her mother make her final walk as a 10 BD-er.
But wait! The day’s hiccups weren’t over. At least not for Ryan. Despite doing a brief pre-show mic check, he had a bit of a “wish I had stayed in bed this morning” moment or two.
In recognizing people, he saluted the 10 BD-ers and Hall of Famer “Charlotte Emanuelson.” Uh, did he mean Hall of Famer Claire Emanuelson — or emcee Charlotte Jones?
No sooner had the slip been heard throughout the room than many freshly refreshed faces exchanged looks of “Oh, dear.” Realizing the faux pax, Ryan took his seat looking crestfallen. But his day of angst was not over.
First, 2023 CCB Chair Angie Kadesky and Fashion Show Chair Patty Leyendecker addressed the group, with Patty waxing on about Charlotte. Taking her place at the podium, Charlotte laughed, saying, “Patty, if I had known you were going to go on like that, I wouldn’t have been here.”
After Charlotte introduced the 10 BD-ers and Claire, Ryan returned to the podium, saying, “I’m back.” In introducing the presentation, he then said, “Adam,” and turned to the stage entrance, indicating the designer’s cue to step forward. All heads turned toward the opening, waiting for Adam. But, no one appeared in the opening between the two humongous floral arrangements. Sounding a bit like Brandon deWilde calling for Shane, Ryan repeated, “Adam. Adam?” He was still hoping Adam would appear as handlers removed the podium and the show got underway.
No sooner had the finale finished than Adam briefly came out for a SRO and guests headed for the fourth floor via escalator and elevators for the seated luncheon.
Though crowded, the luncheon setting was as spring-like as the Lippes collection. Unfortunately, the luncheon fare didn’t fair all that well, with more than one table finding the lobster salad topped with bread crumbs… “not croutons”… lacking. Still another guest skipped dessert since she had to leave at 2:15 p.m.
One major table host, who had to catch a flight, smiled, grinding her pearly white teeth, “Why does this event start later and later each year?
Ah, it’s but one day out of the year to raise funds for Dallas County children, so who can’t spare a delay, miss croutons or sympathize with a fellow who was having an oops moment or two?
For more than 100 looks of the day, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.