I have a soft spot for The Joffrey Ballet’s “Couture & Cocktails”...I admit it. Six years ago when Helen Melchior and I planned this event, I could never have anticipated how successful it would become nor how it would bring me a lifelong friend in Helen. I know this year’s co-chairs, Rebecca Besser and Kristina McGrath, also bonded over this event. It usually happens this way when two like-minded people unite for a common purpose, especially one that is so much fun to plan and for such a wonderful organization. The Joffrey Ballet has come a long way too since its inception. Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956 in NY, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Christopher Clinton Conway. I have loved watching it grow since I’ve been a Women’s Board member and, this year, the Women’s Board has a birthday, too: Our 10th anniversary is being planned as I type and I can’t wait to share those details with you when they’ve been formed by Event Chair Maureen Smith. Every year, Couture & Cocktails has presented a top name designer and, in years past, they have included Maria Pinto (for the inaugural event at The Illuminating Co.), Temperley London and Escada (for the party at the Bentley Dealership where the street was closed and tented!), Pamella Roland (for the first fashion show ever to be presented in the Grand Lobby of the Palmer House), Carmen Marc Valvo (another killer show at the W) and this year’s designer, David Meister. This year’s event was also a first, being the first institution to host a major event at The Hudson at 2222 South Michigan. The previous party held there was the much publicized Ikram anniversary party! Another signature for Couture & Cocktails is always the food! For the original event, we had real White Castle sliders in boxes served on silver trays – the first, fun food idea! This year, The Entertaining Company carried on in fine form with sliders, yes, but beef tenderloin sliders, along with many other tasty and creative choices. The dancers were an inspiration and the reason the event was created. We wanted to showcase them in a friendly, fun atmosphere...away from the stage where guests could get to know them as people. They are not only incredible dancers, as we all know, but the most amazing human beings with multiple talents. Why, dancer Amber Neumann even designed cocktail dresses for a number of her cohorts for this night and they were GORGEOUS! Many others are artists and designers. And they are all charming! The live auction was something to behold this year. Great auction packages included a trip for four plus airfare to the British Virgin Island’s Bitter End Yacht Club with airfare courtesy of United Airlines that sold for $14,500. For this package, Executive Director Christopher Conway even donned a sailor suit! He looked adorable! Another package was an “Instant Cellar: Wine & Champagne Collection” with over 50 bottles that sold for $6,500. A PGA Masters Tournament and the Double Eagle Club for four (courtesy of Charlie and Rebecca Besser) plus business class airfare on United Airlines sold for $13,500. Mike and Kristina McGrath donated their 108-foot yacht, the Kristina, for a group of eight for four days and three nights that sold for $21,000. And for the final package, for the first time in the ballet company’s history, a dance-on role was offered during the season opener of its upcoming world premiere of Don Quixote (which begins on October 12th and runs through the 23rd). This sold for $5,000. The party continued in the Intersport VIP Lounge as hot DJ Ashok lured the guests onto the dance floor. Seen on the scene were Chicago Bears Charles Tillman, Anthony Adams, J’Marcus Webb and Robbie Gould as well as the sensational, international choreographer for Don Quixote, Yuri Possokhov. May it never end! Congrats to Kristina and Rebecca along with the supportive Joffrey staff and Women’s Board committee members. (C & C 2011 raised over $250K). For tickets and more info for the Joffrey Ballet and Don Quixote, please visit www.Joffrey.org/DonQuixote or call 800.982.2787. (To view ALL event pics by Mila Samokhina, with additional pics by Steve Starr, please visit here!)
Huge congrats to Emerge!, the premier runway showcase for new designers hosted during New York Fashion Week on its recent blockbuster success! More than 400 people attended this event that opened with designer Tracy Reese presenting the 2011 Fashion Innovator Award to Constance C. White, Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE Magazine. The audience applauded as White took the runway and expressed her gratitude to the fashion industry and confidence in the Emerge! production (hosted by PR whiz Dionne Williams). Hosted in the magnificent landmark Broad Street Ballroom, located in the financial district, this fantastic production included collections from Adriana Osorio Lugo (Adriana Osorio Lugo Designs), Kirk Johnson (b.-Vain Couture), Berny Martin (Catou) and Borris Powell (Borris Powell Designs). The audience included fashion icon Freddie Leiba, Tamron Hall (MSNBC), Rebecca Crews, fashion execs, buyers, bloggers, socialites, family and friends. Check out this cool video and I hope to see you in the front row next year! To view more pics, please click here!
easy for some guests to plan their wardrobe! Ruby slippers? Check. Toto? Check. Tin hat and oil can? Check! This year’s co-chairs, Tim Smithe (Walter E. Smith Furniture & Design) and Stephanie Castagnier (The Apprentice 2010) planned an event that included tastings from more than 60 restaurants, a silent auction, charitable gaming, live entertainment by Dr. Bombay, Too White Crew, DJ Rock City plus Platinum Event DJs. Music was everywhere! The Supreme Lobster Chef Challenge featured its final round of the Chicago Summer Chef Challenge Series, too, judged by the Food Dude David Lissner. Emcees Valerie Warner and Ryan Chiaverini kicked off the party in grand style as Grant DePorter was honored with a Leadership Award for his longtime support. His dad, Don DePorter, created Chicago Gateway Green in 1986. This event hosted more than 2,500 guests who came out to support this organization dedicated to the greening and beautifying of Chicago’s expressways, gateways and neighborhoods. For more info, please visit www.GatewayGreen.org or call (312) 540.9930. (For ALL event photos by Mila Samokhina, please click here!)
The 47th Chicago International Film Festival will host its opening night benefit on Thursday, October 6th at the Harris Theater located 205 E. Randolph St. beginning with a Red Carpet at 6 PM. The opening night presentation will premiere “The Last Rites of Joe May.” This film is the latest creation from two giant Chicago institutions, actor Dennis Farina and the Steppenwolf Theater Company. Farina gives “the finest performance of his career as an aging hustler whose way of life is at a crossroads” in this film shot in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood and featuring members of the Steppenwolf ensemble. Expect to see Dennis walking the Red Carpet along with the show’s cast and writer/director Joe Maggio. Event emcee will be award-winning journalist Bill Kurtis. The VIP Reception will follow at the Chicago Cultural Center at 77 E. Randolph from 9:30 –11:30 PM. Opening Night tickets can be purchased by visiting the Festival Box Offices (322 E. Illinois or 30 E. Adams) or by calling the Festival Hotline at 312.332.3456. Hopefully, I will see you all there! (I am proud to be a co-chair for this event along with dynamo, RL’s Rich Varnes :) )
I love the name of this event! The 8th Annual “Mutt Strut” invites Chicago to “strut” their stuff for charity on Saturday, October 8th, in Lakeview along Newport Avenue (between Southport and Lakewood) from noon until 2 PM. The party kicks off with a 1.5-mile walk “with your mutt” followed by an old-fashioned block party. This event is open to all ages and will include lunch, children’s activities, contests, raffles, music and a chance to visit with adoptable Chicago Canine Rescue Foundation doggies. Tickets are $25 but kids and dogs get in free! Proceeds will benefit CCR, which was founded in 2001 to help find loving homes for dogs and cats, especially for the most vulnerable in Chicago who are slated for euthanasia because they are too old, too young, too injured, have disabilities or have simply been overlooked for too long by potential adopters and other shelters. CCR is moving to a larger space and the proceeds from this event will help a lot! I hope to see you all there with your four-legged and two-legged friends!
My handsome friends and uber wardrobe stylists to the stars, Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo, have designed their own line of clothing for QVC called VT Luxe. They always have great fashion styling tips and have advised many an A-list celeb, too! Check out their latest video here and you’ll see what I mean! Congrats to Jesse and Joe on their much-deserved success!
And, as long as you’re in a video state of mind, please check out my “Social Circles” video from the Parkways Foundation Hat Luncheon...there is a story around every Chicago corner and I will find it and share it with you! So, keep checking my website at www.Watch312.com for continuous updates of “Behind the Velvet Ropes” coverage of all of Chicago’s TOP events! Some expected, some surprising, but ALWAYS fun!!!!!
Well, that’s the lowdown on this week’s Chicago highlights! Hope to see you all for this weekend’s first Chicago Beach Polo Event! May the chukkers be spirited and the horses light-footed! (Who would’ve ever thought these words would come out of my computer!?) I’ll just meet you at the bar... :) (For tickets and more info, please visit www.ChicagoBeachPolo.com!)