The 2018 Magnolia Ball is 9 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, June 9 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The event will honor the exhibit The Whole Drum Will Sound: Women in Southern Abstraction, on view through July 22. The party also features live music and DJ sets from some talented locals, such as The Original Pinettes Brass Band and DJ RedStylez. There will be food and cocktails from 20 vendors, including Chais Delachaise, Marjie’s Grill, Meauxbar, Saba and Taceaux Loceaux, and both snacks and libations are included in the price of admission. Tickets start at $75 for members and $150 for non-members.


Now that you’ve got your ticket (we gave you a few minutes), it’s time to decide what to wear. Meet the chairs of the 2018 Magnolia Ball — they chatted with Gambit about their love of the arts and showed off their outfits. Read on for some fashion inspo from some cool locals (and answers to a few silly questions for fun).

Jessie Schott Haynes, managing director of the Helis Foundation

After majoring in art history in college and “a little detour” to law school, Haynes began working with the Helis Foundation, a private family-owned foundation that promotes arts access and charitable giving across New Orleans. Perhaps the organization's biggest community outreach program is Art for All, which sponsors the weekly free days for Louisiana residents at the anchor art institutions in the city, including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

Haynes brings a lot of enthusiasm and behind-the-scenes knowledge to the planning committee — not only is she an avid patron and professional of the arts, but also is an Ogden trustee and chair of the nominating and governance committee. She’s proud of the work she and the other chairs have done for the event, such as curating more than 50 auction items (many by female artists) for the silent auction, but she says it’s a team effort among the chairs and the museum’s event and fundraising staff.

Gambit: Describe your sense of style.

JSH: I love vintage (but) I can’t deny my preppy roots. I love to (wear) fun accessories and things I find while traveling.

G: Do you have a personal fashion “must”?

JSH: A gel nail manicure in a fun color, plenty of options for fun eyeglasses and statement earrings.

G: A fashion no-no?

JSH: I’ve had the same haircut since I was in first grade, so a fashion no-no for me is "do not derail from the bob with the bangs." … I also never wear body con, although I admire people that can.

G: Who’s your style icon?

JSH: Iris Apfel. She can do too much — I appreciate that in a person.

G: Favorite cocktail?

JSH: A Pimm’s Cup. It’s so refreshing, especially right now because it’s so hot.

G: Did you ever audition to be the Rosenberg’s girl for Rosenberg’s Furniture store?

JSH: No! I didn’t know they had open calls! (Sings, “Rosenberg’s, Rosenberg’s, 1825 Tuuuu-lane …”)

G: Can you sing The 12 Yats of Christmas by Benny Grunch & the Bunch?

JSH: Close — I know it better than The 12 Days of Christmas.

G: Favorite Roman candy flavor?

JSH: Strawberry. … I saw the (horse-drawn) cart going across the street the other day.

Emily Shaya, owner of Pret a Fete event rentals and director of projects at Pomegranate Hospitality

Shaya has lived in New Orleans for just 15 years, but already she has one of the most recognized last names in the hospitality industry. She and her husband launched the Pomegranate Hospitality group about seven months ago and opened the modern Israeli restaurant Saba in May. When she’s not ruling a culinary kingdom, she’s finding offbeat vintage furniture accessories for Pret a Fete, her event rental business.

She’s a longtime member of the Ogden Museum’s Kohlmeyer Circle, a group for the 45-and-under crowd with a passion for the arts. Her own interest in the arts lies in performances such as ballet and tap — she was wowed by Savion Glover’s performance at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival this year — but she feels it’s important to connect to a variety of creative expression. It’s why she loves the Magnolia Ball: “It’s an opportunity … to explore the museum and see the artwork that (you) may not have seen otherwise,” she says.

G: What’s a personal fashion “must”?

ES: Be playful with what you’re wearing — don’t always take it so seriously. And it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

G: Who’s your style icon?

ES: Carolina Herrera. I think she’d wear this top. Hopefully.

G: What’s your favorite place to get a muffuletta?

ES: DiMartino’s (Famous New Orleans Muffulettas).

G: Favorite thing about living in New Orleans?

ES: The people and the amount of amazing things going on at all times. People here do it to the max … no matter what it is.

G: Favorite local radio station?

ES: WWOZ. When I’m driving in (to the city), I can’t wait until my radio starts to pick it up again.

G: How many koozies do you own?

ES: I have a huge bin of koozies — probably 50. They’re like Mardi Gras cups. They keep replenishing themselves.

David T. Baker, associate editor of The Louisiana Weekly

Baker has been in and out of the journalism field since graduating from college, but he found his niche at The Louisiana Weekly, a nearly-93-year-old African American newspaper and civil rights journal based here in New Orleans. In recent years, the journal has expanded its coverage to include all people that fall under the category of a protected class, and Baker himself has overseen the Weekly’s growing arts and entertainment coverage.

He is a lover of contemporary art (he’s also a member of the board of directors at the Contemporary Arts Center), so membership to the Ogden’s Kohlmeyer Circle was a no-brainer for him. He’s been on the Magnolia Ball’s planning committee for three years and hopes that as a chair of this year’s event, he can help pull people in to the featured exhibit and combat any intimidation that art novices may feel at being exposed to something different.

G: What’s a fashion “must” for you?

DTB: I got into bow ties a few years ago … and I’m starting to explore bow ties in a non-black tie environment. It’s a fun accessory — there are only certain things that men can do with their wardrobes. … I’m also not afraid to power-clash. … I like pattern on pattern, but you have to do it right.

G: Who’s your style icon?

DTB: I pull different things from different sources, like friends, the internet, books [and the Dandy Lion project by Shantrelle Lewis]. I have worn a piece of kente cloth to the SweetArts Ball [at the Contemporary Arts Center] — I just draped it around myself like I was T’Challa from Wakanda [in Marvel’s Black Panther]. I thought it was a hot look, so I did it. I try to explore.

G: What’s your favorite crawfish boil add-on?

DTB: Yams and Brussels sprouts.

G: Do you like okra in your gumbo?

DTB: Hell yes! Okra is my favorite vegetable.

G: Have you ever been hit really hard with a Mardi Gras throw?

DTB: Yes, I’ve been hit in the head by beads, cups, another person — but never a coconut.

G: Doberge or beignets?

DTB: Doberge.

Chad Graci, owner of Graci Interiors design company

At Graci Interiors, every day brings a different schedule.

“It can be hard to block out time to actually sit at your desk,” Graci says. “You can’t decorate from a desk. You have to get out and see things and get inspired.”

It’s no wonder then that he’s drawn to tangible art — things that he can touch and look at up close — or that he’s been tapped to procure and display art for his clients. Graci loves the Ogden Museum for its packed calendar, full of events, showcases, exhibits and educational seminars, and is a long-time member, so he was happy to offer his ideas on lighting and decor for the party (“whether they can be executed or not,” he laughs).

G: Describe your sense of style.

CG: I want to be timeless. I try to do the same thing with my interiors as well. I don’t want to be “of a period.” My wardrobe is (made of) things I’ve had since high school, things from my grandfather, new things (and) old things.

G: What’s a fashion “must” for you?

CG: I like to have something on me that means something to me. I’ll always have a belt of my grandfather’s, or a pocket square of my dad’s, or a ring from my other grandfather. … I think of them when I dress because they were such huge influences on me. … It makes me feel complete and special, and not off-the-rack.

G: Who’s your style icon?

CG: I’m a cross between Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford. I also admire Cary Grant.

G: Do you say “poor boy” or “po-boy”?

CG: Po-boy.

G: How many times have you ridden the Lady Bug roller coaster at City Park?

CG: A lot. I love that ride. It’s a good first date situation.

G: What very “New Orleans” thing have you never done?

CG: I’ve never been on a river boat cruise, (or) sucked the head of a crawfish.

G: What’s your favorite summer cocktail?

CG: An Aperol spritz.

Andrew Freeman, account supervisor at Bond Moroch public relations agency

Freeman’s client portfolio at Bond Moroch reads like a who’s-who of the local art scene. He works with the Helis Foundation, the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition, Prospect New Orleans, the Guns in the Hands of Artists project and the Ogden Museum. He studied art history and finance in college while working for Young Audiences of Louisiana, the local chapter of the nationwide youth outreach program that stresses arts-integrated education for students of all ages. But he became hooked on the arts long before that.

“The first exhibition I ever saw was by Robert Rauschenberg in Naples, Florida in third grade,” he says. “Ever since, I’ve been really interested in museums.”

He professes an interest in visual art as a means of political action and expression, and confesses that most of his discretionary income goes to either eating out (like many New Orleanians) or buying art, so the Magnolia Ball is obviously his favorite party of the year.

“Everyone is ready to let loose a little bit … and it’s an opportunity to let loose in the museum,” he says. “You think of museums as a place to be quiet or reserved or reflective, but this party allows you to turn that on its head.”

G: What’s a fashion “must” for you?

AF: If you’re not looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking that you look like a million bucks, change, even if it means eschewing the dress code a little bit.

G: Who’s your style icon?

AF: Chad Graci. He’s the best-dressed guy I know.

G: What’s your favorite snowball flavor?

AF: Wedding cake.

G: Favorite neighborhood bar or eatery?

AF: Bacchanal (Wine).

G: Seafood boil or Carnival parade?

AF: Carnival parade.

G: When you’re out of state, do you eat at places that advertise “New Orleans-style” food?

AF: Absolutely never. Never will I ever.

G: What was the first live music act you saw when you moved to New Orleans?

AF: The Soul Rebels on Tulane (University)’s campus at their “Welcome Back” field party after (Hurricane) Katrina.