It was one of the most beautiful events I’ve attended. Every guest who came through the front door of the Chicago History Museum looked like they were stepping out of the pages of Vogue – even emcee Bill Zwecker agreed saying, “In all of the years, I don’t think I’ve seen a more glamorous, fashionable crowd.” From the moment you entered the building, you knew you were going to witness history. Beautiful models were stationed at every turn wearing the most dramatic fashions from the legendary Ebony Fashion Fair collection. They lined the staircases, draped languorously against the walls and modeled on pedestals set up throughout the room. It was one night where you knew you had to find your best stuff to wear. Black tie wasn’t simply a suggestion – it was a mandate and everyone dressed to impress. Eunice Johnson’s eye was unerring and she gravitated towards the bold and dramatic, much like I suspect she was as a person. After all, one would have to be to become the trailblazer she was for the African American community. She introduced high couture to people who wouldn’t have otherwise seen it across the country and in spectacular fashion. She utilized top models who also represented her own sensibilities...other trailblazers like Iman and Pat Cleveland, two of the first black supermodels. Pat Cleveland attended this event and I saw her as she entered the building: It was like I was watching a film in slow motion because she didn’t really walk in...she glided. (Her swanlike neck was still the same as I remembered it in all of the top fashion magazines.) And that dress! OMG! It was pale pink with a train that stretched forever but she didn’t seem to notice. I would’ve been screaming at people to “watch my train” – the true mark of an amateur – but not Pat: As she posed for photos, you sensed a life in front of the cameras, someone completely comfortable in her own skin. Vogue’s international editor-at-large Hamish Bowles spotted her, too (everyone did), and rushed to her side. As they chatted about goodness knows what, flashes were going off like crazy. It was definitely a “moment,” one of many for this fashion event of the season. One of my favorite photogs, Bob Carl, was shooting this event and he told me not to miss the dramatic décor in the big tent where we would soon be dining so I headed downstairs and my breath rushed out of my body. Truly, I’ve never seen a more elegant room...all done in shades of purple, design guru Tom Kehoe had truly outdone himself this time! From the “upside-down orchids” hung in huge squares at every table to the chandelier within a chandelier within another chandelier hanging from the draped ceiling, you just didn’t know where to look first. As a matter of fact, when guests streamed in later, there was a huge bottleneck at the door as guests stood gaping. And this was all BEFORE I saw the amazing exhibition featuring more than 60 fashions from the Ebony Fashion Fair! OMGoodness! Well, you’ve probably seen a lot of photos by now since I know people were posting and Instagramming like crazy while I was there and for good reason: These were some of the top pieces from the couture collection of Eunice Johnson and the Fashion Fair and they were awe inspiring in both their drama and creativity. My favorites were the Givenchy silver raffia evening gown from 1997; the Christian Lacroix cocktail ensemble; the Jean Patou day ensemble (I would KILL for this outfit!); B Michael’s rainbow dress (he was there and so proud, and rightfully so!); Chloe by Karl Lagerfeld’s “shower dress”; Bob Mackie’s evening ensemble with white feathers and silver beads; Henry Jackson’s black and white ball gown; and Emanuel Ungaro’s floral bridal gown from 1996. (Insert long, loving sigh here...) When guests finally sat down for dinner, emcee Bill Zwecker thanked the crowd and introduced Costume Council president Nena Ivon, who thanked the co-chairs and told an adorable story about Tom Kehoe. She said, “We stayed within budget for our décor but Mr. Kehoe decided it wasn’t enough, so he did more.” How cool is this guy?! When honorary chair for the event, Linda Johnson Rice, was finally introduced the standing ovation was thunderous. She was beautiful from head to toe with a twinkle in her eye that drew you in and everyone loved hearing the story behind this exhibition and how her mother put together this awe-inspiring collection. Linda also gave a shout-out to curator Joy Bivins and to Dan Oliver saying, “He designed everything you see here – he knew my mother’s vision.” The Ebony Fashion Fair travelled across the country for 50 years raising millions for African American charities. No one wanted the evening to end so DJs Kiss and Moss made sure guests danced, danced, danced the night away at yet another fabulous party in our Windy City...truly the FIRST city of fashion! (View more photos from this fab evening here!)
Transporting guests back to a time when all was glittering and decadent, the grand ballroom of the Four Seasons was decked out in Roaring Twenties décor for the Face the Future Foundation’s gala “Flappers, Fedoras and All That Jazz: A Night on the Toddlin' Town.” Guests channeled the fashion sensibilities of the decade with gals in beaded headpieces, lace and fringed dresses adorned with long strands of pearls while guys sported fedoras and bow ties. Two massive Art Deco vases filled with white ostrich plumes graced the entrance of the foyer. Co-chairs Mary Genet and Michael Judge welcomed more than 300 guests to this elegant affair that included an extensive silent auction and “gambling” at “Jimmy’s Place Casino.” Honorary Chair Chicago Bear Israel “Izzy” Idonije arrived looking dapper as always in a black suit and white shirt topped with a fedora. Other guests included Dr. Mimis Cohen and his wife Andrea Biel Cohen, Dr. Paula Allen-Meares, Dr. Joe "Skip" Garcia, Dr. Dimitri Azar and Dr. Enrico Benedetti. As the doors swung open at 8:00 p.m., guests oohed and ahhhed over the softly lit golden hued décor while the Stanley Paul Orchestra played the tunes of the era from the Charleston to the Foxtrot in the background. Emcee Dr. Sandra Goldberg of NBC 5 Chicago, welcomed guests and introduced Izzy. Foundation President Gus Abello presented the President’s Award to Jim Staples for his fundraising efforts and support of the Foundation. A live auction included a Venice/Paris excursion of 11 days/10 nights with two nights in Venice, then overnight on the Orient Express into Paris to enjoy a full week in a luxurious Paris apartment (AWESOME!); an idyllic escape to Virgin Gorda, BVI, to spend a week at the Bitter End Yacht Club (I love Dana Hokin Garvey and her fabulous family who created this amazing oasis); a romantic getaway with a Polynesian flair to the South Pacific for a Tahitian cruise aboard the small luxury ship m/s/ Paul Gauguin; and a wine cellar with more than 100 bottles of premium wines and champagne. The item that drew particularly fierce but friendly bidding was the week in a Tuscan villa for 12 people and a private chef. The generous donor of the villa offered the three top bidders the opportunity to each enjoy their own week. The live auction raised more than $100,000 with another $60,000 in revenue coming from the Paddle Raise. (Event proceeds topped $340,000.) Michigan Avenue Magazine was the media sponsor for this wonderful event that raises funds and public awareness to support the care and treatment of children born with cleft lip, palate and other craniofacial abnormalities. The Center at UIC is one of the oldest and largest facilities of its kind in the USA. Click here for more info. (Photos by Jon Recana.)
Urban Gateways’ Art for All Gala was held March 8th at City Winery Chicago and attracted more than 300 people. Many prominent Chicago business and civic leaders attended including Kay and Jim Mabie (who served as honorary chairs for the event), Francee Harrington, Richard Dent, Eunita Rushing and an honorary/advisory committee that included Cheryl Mayberrry McKissack and Eric McKissack, Susan and Nick Pritzker and Dawoud Bey. This enchanting, art-filled evening supported Urban Gateways, one of the largest arts service providers in the city. Programs are led by some of the city’s most talented professional artists in music, dance, theater, literary arts, visual arts and digital media, serving 57,000 students and teachers annually. The evening included cocktails, dinner, auction prizes and live performances by Urban Gateways performing groups: 20th Century Players and Chicago Improv Productions plus a special percussion performance by high school students from an Urban Gateways after-school program, a presentation by Urban Gateways digital media student/filmmaker Michael Coleman and a gallery of incredible student artwork. Urban Gateways educates and inspires young people by delivering high-quality, accessible arts experiences that advance their personal and academic growth. (For more info, please click here!)
Huge congrats to Kathleen Henson and Henson Consulting, Inc.! They were honored with THREE national public relations awards for non-profit communications account work recently at the 2013 PR News Nonprofit PR Awards luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Henson Consulting, which celebrates its 12th anniversary this year, won in the high-profile Fundraising category, as well as in the areas of Event PR and PR on a Shoestring Budget. “Nothing is more gratifying than the work we do for our nonprofit clients,” said HC founder and CEO, Kathleen Henson. “By extending the reach of some of the country’s top charities and arts institutions, both locally and nationally, we’ve had the honor and privilege of being an integral part of supporting families with sick children, creating awareness for amazing cultural experiences, and raising the profile of open hearted individuals among us. It is the most fulfilling work that we do as a firm, and to be honored for excellence in this area is very, very special.” In 2011 in honor of the company’s 10th anniversary, Henson created a new division of Henson Consulting called HC3. This practice area is dedicated to providing public relations, marketing and communications support for organizations, companies and individuals that are “doing good while doing well.” The client roster of HC3 also includes high-profile charitable work for TV personality Jenny McCarthy’s Generation Rescue (supporting autism awareness), Bright Pink and Giuliana Rancic’s Fab-U-Wish (providing support to women battling breast and ovarian cancer), Greg Olsen’s Kicks for a Cure (supporting breast cancer research) and Camp Kesem (providing magical camp experiences for children whose parents were touched by cancer), among others. Congrats to Kathleen and her team on these much deserved honors! :)
March 9th was a memorable evening for fitness and health maven Shea Vaughn and the dedicated friends and supporters of her cause, Healthy Initiative. “Celebrate Yourself Healthy” took place at Germania Place with hundreds of guests to honor the cause and its mission to promote better health practices and fight disease. The launch of Healthy Initiative started with forty participants challenged to transform themselves in 90 days with the help nutritionists, personal trainers, mentors and lifestyle regimes. For those people, March 9th was their special day, too: Each was showcased in designs from J-Na Couture and Mark Roscoe with hair by Custom Hair Lounge and makeup by Josie Volpentesta and Brenda Arelano. The night was hosted by Jeff Conway of NBC’s 24/7, Jon Cotay of Akira and success coach Bill Walsh. This exciting evening included hors d’oeuvres, specialty cocktails, live entertainment by David Rothstein Music, opera by reigning Miss Heart of Illinois Marisa Buchheit, laughter by comedian and writer Jennifer Weigle and a special key note speech by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, bestselling author of “Eat to Live” and wellness advocate often seen on “The Dr. Oz Show.” TCW Magazine was the media sponsor. Congrats on a great event Shea! For more info, please visit healthyinitiative.org.
“Cutest Couple” alert! Please add Kyla McCarthy and Tim Smithe, Jr. to the list of high profile cuties who are tying the knot this summer! Their blow-out engagement party attracted hundreds of fun-loving friends who were thrilled to celebrate this special occasion with these beautiful/handsome lovebirds. They will be getting married on June 1st (which is Kyla’s grandparent’s 61st wedding anniversary) in Paris where they will say their vows at the Eiffel Tower! Awwwwwww...I love this! Their families are thrilled beyond measure! Kyla’s beloved grandparents Victoria and Jack Bazarnick have passed but Tim’s grandmother, Florence Smithe, always wears Victoria’s pendant as a way of ensuring that she is always with them. (More awwwwws!) This is a true love story made even sweeter by this big family, as four generations of Smithes have embraced Kyla and her family in such a beautiful way. I wish this for all brides and grooms-to-be. Kyla and Tim met over a year ago at CareerBuilder and it was love at first sight. What Tim says about Kyla: “No matter how stubborn I am, she never quits on me and my faults. I always end up seeing the other side and becoming a better person, a more well-rounded man because she is a part of my life.” Kyla on Tim: “What I love most about my fiancé is his heart. He is able to connect with any single person on the face of this earth as long as he gets the chance to. When we talk about our future, he talks about our children as if they’re already here (we will be waiting a few years for them) and he is always smiling. It’s his kind heart, and I know it’s my job to protect it.” Their famous fathers-in-law have hit it off, too: Walter E. Smithe’s Tim Smithe, Sr. has this to say about Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy: “What more could a father ask than to have his son find a beautiful woman who makes his boy so very happy? Kyla is the first new Smithe girl of this generation!” Once Tim Jr. asked for Kyla’s hand in marriage, her father said, “You know how to communicate with her, you understand her and I only wish you both the very best.” A graduate of Northeastern University with a double major in clinical psychology and philosophy and with a thesis in existential psychotherapy, Kyla would be a dream match for any smart man – I’m just so thrilled she and Tim found each other. This soon-to-be wedding celebration was held at Harry Caray’s Steakhouse (located at 33 W. Kinzie) and included Kimberly McCarthy, Joe Ahern, Deputy Superintendant Al Wysinger, Alderman Ed Burke, Grant DePorter, Mike Ditka, Steve McMichael, Casey Urlacher, Brad Parker, Kyle Badgley and Alex Najem (American Junkie Chicago), RRP president Arturo Gomez, R.J. Melman, Jon and Andrew Landan, Matt Deichl, lots of family from both sides and so many more. I know it’s going to be an exciting and loving place in Ky-Tim’s World. Here’s wishing them the very best! :) Don’t cha just love stories like this?
“E! News” anchor, “Fashion Police” host and breast cancer survivor Giuliana Rancic is once again partnering with national non-profit Bright Pink to launch an exciting new philanthropic initiative: Fab-U-Wish. Fab-U-Wish, which made its debut online March 12th at FabUWish.org, provides young women battling breast and ovarian cancer with the opportunity to spend a day feeling “fabulous” by living one of their wildest wishes or dreams. E! will serve as the official media partner of Fab-U-Wish. In 2011, Giuliana went through a public battle with an early stage breast cancer diagnosis, double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. During that challenging time, she relied heavily on the love and support of her husband of five years Bill Rancic, family, close friends, colleagues, fans around the world and Bright Pink founder Lindsay Avner. However, it was the days of having her hair and make-up done at E!, putting on gorgeous designer gowns to interview celebrities on the red carpet or receiving the full Hollywood treatment that helped her feel more like a princess and less like a patient. She realized that her own special form of “fab therapy” helped take her mind off her breast cancer battle and remain optimistic, rather than continuously focusing on her illness. “I’m grateful to be where I am today – a new mother, feeling strong and healthy and in a position to help other women now going through what I did,” said Giuliana. “Along with my friend Lindsay Avner and the team at Bright Pink, I hope to pay it forward and become a “fairy godmother” to other women by establishing Fab-U-Wish. I sure know firsthand that a little bit of fabulous can go a long way to keep you feeling bright during some of the darkest days.” Applying for a Fab-U-Wish is simple: Women 45 and under currently undergoing treatment for breast and ovarian cancer can submit a 150-word essay or a two-minute video explaining their wish and how this one-of-a-kind indulgence would help bring some brightness to them during treatment. Giuliana and Bright Pink will work together to review applications and select the most inspiring, creative, awesome, fabulous, and bright wishes to be granted each year, thanks to generous supporters and brands. To learn more about Fab-U-Wish and the official application details or to submit your wish, please visit FabUWish.org. Congrats to Giuliana on this wonderful idea and to Lindsay for all you do for so many!
Sad news to report! Former Joffrey Ballet Executive Director Christopher Clinton Conway is relocating back to Los Angeles after his eight-year tenure with the dance company. As a personal friend, I will miss him beyond measure but know this is a great opportunity for him. I met CCC at the very first Couture & Cocktails in September 2005. His twinkling eyes and whip-smart wit made everyone want to be his friend. I was lucky to have him as a dear one for so long! He changed the Joffrey in so many immeasurable ways and helped make it the world class company it is today. He completed its $40 million capital campaign, he doubled annual giving to the company, he rebranded and reinvigorated the Joffrey and created unprecedented media and corporate recognition, he recruited a new artistic team after the death of beloved founder Gerald Arpino, he helped design and build the Joffrey Tower (the first permanent headquarters for the company), he helped produce the 2012 hit documentary “Mavericks of American Dance,” he launched the “Choreographers of Color” competition in 2010, he increased the Joffrey’s subscription base by 300 percent and he launched the Young Professional’s Board in 2009, among MANY other contributions. So as you can see, besides being a CS Man of Style and a Paul Stuart Brand Ambassador, this man worked hard to make Chicago a better place for the arts and it will be a lesser place without him in it. I wish you the best on your new journey CCC – don’t forget the people here who love you, like me! :) BUT along with this bad news is good news for some lucky person looking for a charming 1928 English cottage home in Park Ridge. Christopher purchased this home for easy access to the airport and it’s now for sale and listed with Doug Smith of Rubloff/Prudential. (Check it out here.) We love you CCC and will miss you more than you can imagine!
The Chicago Flower & Garden Show’s preview party “Evening in Bloom” was a bloomin’ success (I know, I know!) and attracted hundreds of Chicagoans who had spring on their minds. Themed the “Art of Gardening,” this year’s show benefitted several important charities including Chicago Gateway Green (a non-profit dedicated to greening and beautifying Chicago’s neighborhoods, gateways and expressways), the Peterson Garden Project (a volunteer non-profit committed to teaching people how to grow their own food), the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation (a nonprofit that provides support and assistance to the families of Chicago Police Officers killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty), the Kendall College Charitable Trust (a nonprofit dedicated to providing support for students in need who are enrolled full time in the school’s culinary, hospitality, business and education programs) and Special Olympics Chicago (which provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities). The preview event showcased nearly two dozen stunning display gardens as well as original artworks. Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres from Harry Caray’s, Riva Restaurant, Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet as well as sweets from Eli’s Cheesecake. Show director and president Tony Abruscato said, “This is where patrons of the arts meet garden and environmental enthusiasts ready to paint the town green for a welcome return to spring.” Guests included Pat Brickhouse, Jim Althoff, Cathy Hull, Joanna and Grant DePorter, artist Emmy Star Brown, Casey Schommer, Holly and Matt Murek, Amy and Jason Lundy, Allison Rosati, Rob Stafford, Sa, Griffith, Sandy and Lee Golub, Albert Bautista, Pamela Fong and Sharon Ringier among many others. I never miss this beautiful event and love getting ideas for the garden! Congrats to all!
The Mad Hatter’s Brunch, a fundraising event to benefit youth programming and services at the Broadway Youth Center (BYC), will be held April 7th from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the fabulous ZED451 in River North. This festive afternoon will allow guests to sport zany and outrageous hats while tasting delectable eclectic specialty dishes from a rich buffet-style spread. Nationally-recognized musical and comedy revue THE KINSEY SICKS – America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet will be the featured entertainment. FYI, hats are NOT required to attend and all are welcome! For tickets and more info, please click here.
Special thanks to my sweet friends at WCIU’s “You & Me This Morning” - we had a great time taping a segment recently at our home and I never wanted them to leave! If you missed it, here it is below. I especially love the surprise that co-hosts Jeanne Sparrow and Melissa Forman had for me at the end...how thoughtful are these peeps?! Love to producer Rob Morhaim, too! Just love this show!!!!!!
Well, that’s it for this week’s Candid Candace! Please tell your friends and share!!! :) And, as always, I hope you enjoyed the lowdown on Chicago’s many highlights!
Love, as always,
P.S. One of my oldest and dearest friends Ed Howlett just became a grandfather, thanks to his beautiful daughter Allison and handsome son-in-law, Josh Walters. Please welcome dear little Charlotte Lynn Walters to the world!