Two recent events made “wear” worthy. During the course of the FestiGals fun, participants were asked to “celebrate women and support our sisters with cancer.” Thus, the Bodacious Bras for a Cause Luncheon & Auction. A benefit for the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans, it was held in La Nouvelle Ballroom of the Hotel Monteleone. Elsewhere, but on a different date, “Couture for a Cause – A Fashion Affair for the Heart” raised money (and awareness) for the American Heart Association. Entrepreneurs Tiffany D. Magee and Shirah Ray hosted the event at the Eiffel Society, which donated 20% of bar sales to the AHA.
The FestiGals luncheon, a highlight of the four-day romp, made benefit and bras synonymous. The event featured a Bloody Mary Mixer (presented by the GNT Group),“Bodacious Bra-art” led by celebrities and artists, entertainment, HandCraft wine, an “uplifting” silent auction, a tasty meal, and fashions by Stein Mart with coordination by Joan Ingram. Stein Mart generously donated the bras that were then decorated and sold at the auction. Among those who embellished the 30 auction-item bras were Angela Hill, Fred Schneider (of the B-52s), Anne Pincus (whose “Carousel Bra” was purchased by past Iris queen Pam Pickett), Cheryl Mintz and hubby Brett Bauman, Bonnie Broel, Shelley Middleberg, Betsie Gambel, Virginia Saussy, and Patrick von Hoorebeck, to mention a few “undergarment artistes.”
During the course of the fashion show, a brace of media personalities, Spud McConnell and the above Brett Bauman, made surprise appearances as bra models, strutting through the comely crowd to the podium where Mark Romig joined Natalie Shepherd to emcee the caper.
More entertainment came via NOLA Chorus Girls, along with artist Shannon Mullen, who created an on-site painting of the luncheon in progress. Otherwise, the already-set décor pleased the “Bodacious” brigade, thanks to the creativity of ACCENT on Arrangements. Among the features were fuchsia and sunset-colored linens with matching silk napkins; rhinestone napkin holders; and, as centerpieces, colorful bags with a floral motif that were created by luncheon Chairwoman Mary Katherine Lonatro-Tusa. Flanking the stage were eight-foot-tall hot pink feather towers draped in crystal-beaded curtains and complemented by pink and orange LED up-lighting.
Notables, and they were many, included Jill Conner Browne aka The Sweet Potato Queen, who was in from Jackson, Miss., as the guest speaker; FestiGals founder Diane Lyons with husband Jack; the above luncheon Chairwoman Mary Katherine with husband Dominic Tusa; Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans executive director Tammy Swindle (the event raised $15,000 for the organization); Lisa Sins of Arnaud’s Restaurant (where Mark and Laure Starring dined on Monday night), who reigned as FestiGals 2014 Dynamic Diva for the StilettoStroll; Terry Snyder of Stein Mart; event spearheader Sandra Dartus – she and husband Alan Horwitz will now call New Orleans home again; and fundraising committee members Faith Peperone, Lynda DePanecis, Barbara Ballard, Stephanie Burks, Penny Baumer, Linda Martin, Suzy Capitelli and Debi Evans.
A slew of additional social opportunities enveloped the fourth annual FestiGals, which has “Empowering & Enriching Women, New Orleans Style!” as its motto. New this year was the Stiletto Sprint presented by Fleurty Girl, where both men and women dashed (or sashayed?) to the finish line in three-inch high heels. All good-natured fun, and once again, altruistic. The Breast Cancer Center at Ochsner Baptist was the beneficiary.
A Cause for Couture – Sew Nice!
At the Eiffel Society, “Couture for a Cause: A Fashion Affair for the Heart” thanked David Lee’s Boutique and the “manager extraordinaire” for the social structure. The organizers, Tiffany Magee and Shirah Ray, dedicated it “in memory of our fathers.” Both men died of heart attacks at a very early age.
At 7 p.m., and after guests were welcomed on the red carpet by Paris Hatcher, the doors opened and DWill the Peoples DJ started spinning the sounds. Concurrent were the VIP reception and the beginning bidding at the silent auction. An hour later, mistress of ceremonies Chanelle Rene, who’s billed as a model, creative director and runway coach, stepped – stiletto-heeled – forward. Speed painter Shauna Williams, ringmaster Shanna Forrestall (sporting a top hat and a bustier, and announcing, with reference to the charitable purpose of the event, that “fashion was more than just clothes”), burlesque artiste Cherry Brown, and Barbarella Blue for a sultry “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?” were slated as performers. Moments later the runway show commenced with designs by Ko Fetche KRebelles.
More program features were designs by LAPlay Bill by Tabitha Bethune and John Delgadillo of Cutting Edge Diva, presentations by David Lee’s Boutique, the final walk by GlamSquad led by GetMade Monique and Sherrire Ashanti, and closing remarks by the above Tiffany and Shirah.
Further excitement within this happening that started with Cirque de Soleil ambiance, included the Chinese Auction (a combination of a silent auction and raffle), an impressive menu catered by the LaPlace-based Petra’s Restaurant, gift bags from Zales Jewelry, and the see-and-be-seen scene. Plus, there were the fabulous fashions, which were applauded by the likes of Beverly Norwood Matheney, Kenny Lopez, Nikki Walker Kennedy, Chip Kennedy, Arnold Baker, Tracee Dundas, and Julie Branden.
Around and About
Home fashion was celebrated at the Grand Opening Party of West Elm on Magazine Street, where invited folks gathered for drinks, bites, a chance to see the handsome new emporium, and a 10% discount. A portion of the evening’s proceeds benefited The Roots of Music, a local nonprofit committed to preserving the musical heritage of the Crescent City.
Fittingly, The Roots of Music brass band greeted the 500-plus guests and DJ Musa kept the energy up inside the store. Boucherie catered, Sucre offered the suite of sweets, and Neal Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal created a specialty cocktail.
Noted within the party pack were West Elm Vice President and creative director Vanessa Holden, Paul and Sara Costello, Joel and Gretchen Dondis, Jacques and Mallory Rodrigue, Bently Graham, Tariq and Jennifer Hanna, Gary and Lisa Zoller, Skipper and Ashley Bond, Joe and Dorothy Mann, Nathaniel Zimet, Andrew Freeman, and legions more. Framed as a 6-8 p.m. fete, the last guests moseyed out about 9:30. Fun was duly arranged.