Baton Rouge fashion designer Anthony Ryan Auld couldn’t have found a better way to celebrate the first anniversary of his winning “Project Runway All Stars” than with the gala opening of an exhibit of his fashions at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. The place was literally humming with excitement.

‘The Art of Fashion’

I dare say many of the 600 guests had never set foot in LASM before the night of Jan. 17 when they came to get an up-close look at Anthony Ryan’s 2014 spring and fall collections. The main gallery exhibit also includes the dress he designed while attending LSU that won Best in Show at Fashion Group International’s Dallas Career Day four years ago as well as two of his winning “Project Runway” creations. The night also launched ANT, his ready-to-wear knit line. The line to place an order was almost out the door of LASM!

Always one to share the spotlight, Anthony Ryan enlisted 20 of his “Project Runway” alumni to submit looks for the exhibit, which runs through March 30. They include New Orleans designer Matthew Arthur, who was on hand for the celebration; Seth Aaron, who just took home his own “All Stars” win; Fabio Costa; Michael Costello; Samuel Donovan; Melissa Fleis; Michelle Lesniak Franklin; Laura Kathleen; Jonathan Kayne; Viktor Luna; Chris March; first-ever “Project Runway” winner Jay McCarroll; Joshua McKinley; Korto Momolu; Kate Pankoke; Ari South; Christopher Straub; Elena Slivnyak; Dom Streater and Nick Verreos.

Anthony Ryan, who recently completed treatment for a second bout of testicular cancer, also shared the spotlight with 21-year-old cancer patient Samantha Baker. He, friend Mary Katherine Rodrigue with the Wellness Studio, SOHO Boutique Salon and Rodeo Boutique donated an auction item this past spring for Cancer Services Capital Chefs’ Showcase. It was won by Gwen Graves, who set out to find the perfect recipient.

Baker was receiving treatment at the St. Jude Children’s Hospital affiliate clinic at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and was nominated by oncology nurse manager Shawn Wolkart to get the VIP treatment and attend the preview party. She got a wardrobe consultation with Anthony Ryan, a new ensemble from Rodeo and a makeover with Kim Bowman and Sarah Pagoulato from SoHo before a limo brought her and several of her friends to LASM for the big event.

If the night’s response is any indication, Anthony Ryan is just beginning to ride the wave of his post “Project Runway” success.

New Food Bank HQ

Everyone associated with the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank was on a natural high the beginning of the week as they all gathered to officially dedicate the new headquarters — the 170,000-square-foot Fraenkel Center, located at 10600 South Choctaw Drive. Traveling from San Francisco for the ribbon-cutting ceremony was Albert Fraenkel II, whose generous gift of the building where his wholesale furniture business had been located helped make it all a reality.

“This is the culmination of a dream,” Fraenkel told me. “This is a place of service for years to come.”

Joining him in the celebration were other donors; Mayor Kip Holden; state Sen. Sharon Weston Broome; Metro Councilwoman Donna Collins Lewis; Bobby Yarborough, who chaired the $12.1 million “from Hunger to Hope” capital campaign; CEO Mike Manning; and members of the Food Bank board.

Goodbye, hello

From the Food Bank’s celebration, I headed to Boudreaux’s for a luncheon honoring Katherine Martin for her 19 years of service to O’Brien House . I still vividly recall her standing in the middle of the street in shock as the almost completed expansion went up in flames seven years ago. Never one to quit, Katherine and a dedicated group of donors, staff and board members quickly got things back on track. Presenting her with gifts of thanks were board chairman Logan Hardie and O’Brien House founder John Camp. The mayor also dropped by with a key to the city, proclamation and certificate making Katherine an honorary mayor … a move that elicited laughter from those of us who know her well.

“I was just the facilitator,” said Katherine. “God was in charge of O’Brien House.”

It will be hard to image O’Brien House without Katherine but at this same luncheon we also welcomed the new executive director, Todd Hamilton Jr. He sent us on our way with an outline of some of the good things on the horizon. Topping the list is the conversion of the old kitchen into a woman’s dorm, providing an additional 16 beds.

Celestial Pearls

It was “a preview of Celestial Pearls” at Hemingbough in St. Francisville as the Happi Llandiers Inc. hosted its biannual Cotillion on Dec. 7.

The group’s 11 debutantes took their formal bows at the gala event. The West Feliciana Parish debs are member of the Llandettes, the younger sisters’ affiliate of the Happi Llandiers Inc.

Presented were Queen Regina Bailey, daughter of Nadine Bailey; First Maid Ciara Lemar, daughter of Sarah Lemar and Ivan Lemar; Kiristen Batiste, daughter of Jacqueline McDonald and Nowell Batiste; Tyreanna Lewis, daughter of Anthony and Shontage Brown; Kelsey Scales daughter of Katherine and Shelton Scales Sr.; Auslyn Taylor, daughter of Michael Taylor and Veronica Wilcox, Dary’Neisha Weaver, daughter of Veronica Mitchell; Diamond Williams, daughter of Alicia Williams; Second Maids are Breanna Willis, daughter of Pastor Calvin and Sallie Willis; Tiffany Cage, daughter of John Earl Cummings and LaTonya Cage; Third Maid Shanisha Arbuthnot, daughter of Tanya and Ellis Arbuthnot.

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