PLUS STEPHANE AND MICHI'S STYLE WATCH; CHICAGO URBAN LEAGUE; ZOOLA 2013; BOLLYWOOD IN CHICAGO WITH ANUPY; BARBIE IN CHICAGO; JUBALEE; LA RABIDA AWARDS; TRIB'S BLUE SKY INNOVATION; L.A.'S TALK OF THE TOWN GALA; WORKING MOTHER OF THE YEAR; MATT'S A "DRAMA QUEEN"; GIBSON'S NEW PARTY SPACE; eDROP-OFF'S NEW HOME AND SO MUCH MORE!
I love Mike Sneed's "grateful" column in the Sun-Times every year. I love reading about what people are thankful for. It's always inspiring and enlightening to read joyful thoughts. I decided, for this Thanksgiving,
that I needed to remind myself about what has been important to me, too. It doesn't have to be earth shattering things, but rather it's the little moments that make a life full. I remember in one of Sneed's columns, she wrote about being thankful for her backyard birds who she loved listening to over a cup of coffee. These lists serve much like Oprah's Gratitude Journals. Sometimes you lose track of what's truly important in life, be they big or small things, but by writing them down they're brought back to the forefront of your mind. Besides the obvious, good health for my loved ones, I also have some beautiful moments that I have been grateful for. In no particular order, here they are. For a birthday one year, Chuck wrote out letters on legal sheets spelling out "happy birthday" that went all the way from upstairs into our kitchen. I still have the yellow sheets. I'm grateful for the beautiful park (Washington Park) that's across the street from our building. I'm grateful to have two crazy Chihuahuas that make us laugh (and sometimes cry) every day. I'm grateful to have a mother-in-law who's 93 years young and to have a loving stepson, Charley. I'm grateful to have been raised in a small town and I'm thankful for the Flat Creek Baptist Church in East Carondelet, Illinois, that welcomed me with open arms when I was young and needed direction. I'm thankful to have been raised by Mary and Jim Johnson who taught me what it was like to be discriminated against and rise above it with grace and dignity. I'm grateful to have seen the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York. We've been a few times and it's more exciting every time I see it and always put you in the mood for the holidays. And speaking of the holidays, I'm grateful for WLIT's (93.9 FM)ALL-Christmas music programming. I'm also grateful for surviving our move after 22 years in one place. It was hell getting here but it's heaven now. Living in Chicago is a blessing since I think it's the coolest, most gorgeous place in the country with the nicest people. I'm grateful for the music of Cole Porter, Karen Akers, anything French, Diana Krall and, of course, Sinatra. I'm grateful to have the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to watch on television while I anticipate the day with family. I'm grateful for the friends I have and the ones I've yet to meet. I'm grateful to have been blessed with high energy. My mom and dad were always the last ones to leave a party so I guess it's no surprise. And last but not least, I'm so grateful to have this blog to write that I hope you enjoy and I'm thankful to have a voice in the Chicago Tribune every Sunday to spotlight worthy charities as well as my Watch312.com internet TV show. :-) I could go on and on, of course, but you get the idea. I hope this inspires you to make your own lists and I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Style Watch Alert! Designer Stephane St. Jaymes is definitely one to watch! Although, he's very well known in other parts of the world, he's relatively new to Chicago HOWEVER our very own trendsetter/celeb host Michi Marshall, is about to change all this. She introduced this creative man recently at Tocco to some of the top fashionistas in town for a private get-together that included beautiful models, display windows showcasing his designs, a banquet table filled with his drawings, sketch book and fabric swatches and a very appreciative crowd. PR glam gal extraordinaire Margaret O'Connor, Stephane's publicist, introduced Michi and Stephane when they were both her guests at a private event at the Art Institute's Fashion and Modernism Show. They immediately had a connection and began talking fashion. Stephane is a London-trained designer with an impressive background. He worked with some of the top designers there including Elisabeth Emmanuelle, Michiko Koshino, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano Temperley London and Giles Deason. In the mid-2000's, he took on more private clients, designing for London society, Ascot and other high profile functions and society weddings. Michi has always had a passion for fashion. She decided to pursue her dreams after earning two degrees with honors from University of Central Florida (where she met her husband Brandon) and entered the Miami International University of Art & Design. She transferred a year later to the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago and will graduate next year with a degree in Fashion Merchandising. She plans to open her own boutique called "Michi" which is sure to be a success! On this night, Michi showed up at Tocco, one of my fav Italian restaurants, wearing the most glamorous cocktail dress designed, of course, by Stephane. With only one fitting, the dress fit her perfectly, thanks to his unerring precision. Michi introduced Stephane recounting how he learned to sew from his mother and aunts when he was just a teenager. He enrolled at Redbridge Technical College in East London before going on to the London College of Fashion. Stephane was humble when introduced and said he was the happiest when designing and making beautiful clothes. He said he met Margaret only two months ago and that she was his "fashion tsunami." He said Margaret talked to him about branding and seeking out the right opportunities so he is well on the way to the top of the fashion heap with her expert guidance. Midway through the event, Brandon, arrived to give support to his wife. He made it a point to stay out of the limelight wanting her to have this night all to herself. When I peeked at him in the back of the room, he was taping his wife's speech. It was too sweet for words to see how supportive they are to one another. Stephane will be introducing his 2014 Spring Collection in early 2014 with Margaret already making plans for the big event. His studio is located in the Bridgeport Art Center. Catch him while you can! (Photos by Amie Hana)
Driven by the theme, The Power of Opportunity: Moving Chicago Forward, the Chicago Urban League, along with many of the city’s business, civic and elected leaders, hosted another successful Golden Fellowship Dinner at the Hilton Chicago. Committed to the success of Chicago’s African American communities, proceeds from the dinner provide financial support for the programs, collaboration and advocacy work of the Chicago Urban League with key focus areas that include education, human capital development, workforce development, entrepreneurship and housing. Andrea L. Zopp, president and CEO of the League highlighted some of the organization’s success stories over the past year but challenged the crowd of more than 1,600 guests to do more to move the city of Chicago forward. “At the Chicago Urban League, we are informed by our history and we see things differently,” said Zopp. “We know that we can surmount the insurmountable. With the power of opportunity lives can be transformed, neighborhoods can be renewed and communities can be restored.” This year’s gala was co-chaired by E. Scott Santi, president and CEO of ITW and Gregory D. Wasson, president and CEO of Walgreens. “Real change can’t happen without the right tools,” said Santi. “The key is having the necessary resources. The Chicago Urban League provides people with the necessary tools so they can be empowered and find their own fulfillment.” Wasson added, “In recent years, the Urban League has helped hundreds of homeowners avoid foreclosure and thousands of businesses to grow and create jobs. All this adds up to what reform advocates call “real change” that helps families, communities and cities by empowering individuals.” Best known for his roles in the landmark television miniseries “Roots” and his Academy Award winning performance in “An Officer and A Gentleman,” Louis Gossett, Jr. accepted the Edwin C. “Bill” Berry Civil Rights along with Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. The award is named for Bill Berry, who led the Chicago Urban League from 1956-1969 and was a key leader in the civil rights movement in Chicago. Both Gossett and Jackson were presented with the honor for making a mark on the nation through their hard work, perseverance and creativity. The 52nd Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner was hosted by comedian/actor Damon Williams and culminated with a show stopping performance by legendary R&B group The O’Jays. Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong sustainable communities through advocacy, collaboration and innovation. For more information, visit www.thechicagourbanleague.org. (Photos by Powell Photography)
Inspired by the graceful swans of one of Chicago’s most beloved landmarks, the Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo brought together 180 guests at ZooLA on November 14, a live auction in which fantasy took flight. Marking a departure from the intimate home setting of past years, ZooLA 2013 was held at The Casino in Streeterville and raised funds for Lincoln Park Zoo. The ballroom sparkled with beautiful jewel tones as eager guests perused the catalogue of more than 20 auction items. Hors d’oeuvres and small plates were served, while custom cocktails were prepared by mixologist Revae Schneider. A lovely display of designer handbags filled with surprise experiences beckoned guests to enter a pre-auction raffle. Auctioneer and Board of Trustees member, John D. Fornengo, presented the once-in-a-lifetime experiences, luxury pieces, and unique offerings that delivered the “wow” factor and beyond. Premiere packages included a dazzling Harry Winston Midnight Collection Ladies’ Timepiece; a one-week stay at the number one Four Seasons ski resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; a once-in-a-lifetime experience for two at Super Bowl XLVIII in February, 2014; a one-week stay for two at Rancho La Puerta Spa and a pair of VIP seats to a taping of “Dancing with the Stars. Bridget Campbell, event co-chair, reflected on the enchanting evening, “We would like to thank our guests for their overwhelming enthusiasm and support. The funds raised contribute to maintaining this community treasure,” she said. Denise Stefan Ginascol, event co-chair, added, “This type of support helps keep the zoo free and accessible to all.” Notable attendees included Dana and Ricky Abt; Elizabeth and John Cusack; Holly and Peter Geraci; John Ginascol; Diana Hall; Wendy Krimins; Tina and Mike Leopardo; Roberta Olshansky; Myra and John Reilly; Terry Sullivan; Kimbra Walter; Lincoln Park Zoo Board of Trustees event Liaison, Elizabeth Mihas; Peggy White, Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo President; and Kevin Bell, Lincoln Park Zoo President and CEO. The event raised more than $250,000, the most ever raised by a Women's Board Live Auction! ZooLA will support the Women’s Board pledge to maintain Lincoln Park Zoo’s invaluable presence and worldwide leadership in conservation, education and animal care as well as supporting the construction of the Regenstein Macaque Forest, the first new animal habitat to be built at the zoo in over eight years.
It was a Bollywood Blowout on November 15th when 500 came out to celebrate Diwali, the festive South Asian New Year, at Stan Mansion. Hosted by Anupy Singla (author of
two best-selling Indian cookbooks and co-founder of Indian As Apple Pie) along with Vandana Walia (Creative Director of Vchilli, a South Asian event planning company), Shari Duffy (Shari Duffy Events) and Ladies Night Out, an event production company, the evening featured Indian food, dance and fashion. Chicago-based Indian restaurants that included Gaylord Restaurants, Indian Garden of Chicago Peacock Cuisine of India and the popular Thalia Spice offered mouth-watering food including samosas, veggie wraps and Asian/Indian fusion bites. New York City based, DJ Rekha, who has performed at the White House, was flown in to spin traditional Punjabi tunes adding to the authentic Indian flavor of the event. Charisma Boutique produced a stunning runway show of traditional Indian fashions. Rita Boorgu, the owner, spent the previous week outfitting local media and social personalities in South Asian fashions and jewels to create buzz. Some of the twenty-six runway models included Dwana De La Cerna, Debi Lilly, Nancy Loo, Margaret O'Connor, Lily Gulik, Karyn Calabrese, Sneha Dixit, Toria Emas, Wendy Widom, Beth Rosen, Monica Eng, Pam Jones, Chicago Tribune's Bill Daley and MJ Tam. Gigi from GiGi’s Playhouse and Paiy Hans, a model and actress, opened the runway show. Dancers, dressed in native costumes entertained the crowd along with Dohl (drum) players, flame twirlers and acrobats. Chef Art Smith and Jesus Salgueiro, dressed in their own Indian finery, were VIP guests at the event. (GiGi’s Playhouse is a non-profit that supports children with Downs Syndrome and was the beneficiary of some of the proceeds). What a fun night! (Photos by Caitlin Saville Collins)
A pink carpet, a pink photo backdrop and accents of white and blue set the stage for the first “Barbie in Chicago” event brought to life by creative photographer Amie Hana with the help of some friends. It all started with an idea Amie had to create stylized photo shoots for people in their favorite Barbie or Ken look. She thought it would be a fun theme for an event but needed someone with experience to help her realize her vision. She looked no further than Vincent Tan, owner of the popular Simply Thalia and Thalia Spice restaurants, to partner with her. Vince brought in Block 37 (where Simply Thalia is located) as the event venue and tapped into the talents and resources of Art of Imagination and Juliet Tan Floral design to plan the décor and Tablescapes Party Rentals rounded out the event plans. When the night arrived, many guests turned up in their favorite Barbie/Ken interpretations, some recreating a look from a Barbie doll they had as a child while others chose a modern twist with looks from Yoga Barbie to Mikimoto Barbie, and even a Ken who looked a lot like “Happy Days” Fonzie! While everyone was enjoying great food, signature pink and blue cocktails music and entertainment, “Barbie Dolls from Around the World” modeled throughout the room. Jillian Conley, author of Dating Chase Walker and Jeff Conway, TV Personality and Emmy Nominated Producer, were the emcees for the night and recognized the event beneficiary, Dress for Success, a nonprofit that provides clothing to low-income women. A runway show produced by Benjamin Cottrell Designs followed with exciting designs by Borris Powell, Mark Roscoe and Eileen Fisher. The finale ended on a note of deliciousness when Shanon Lersch, a Chicago Bulls Luvabull and former Miss Illinois USA, stepped onto the runway in an elaborate chocolate gown created by award-winning pastry chef, Omar
Martinez and Mark Roscoe Design. Live entertainment was provided by De'Borah, a Season 3 contestant on The Voice, and Divalicious entertainer/ reporter/actress, Jovie Calma who packs a huge voice into a tiny frame. Guests danced the night away to the hot sounds by DJ Corey Sandford. Can't wait for your next big idea Amie! (Thanks to PR gal extraordinaire Margaret O'Connor for the info, too, and support of this fun event!)
The Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP), the world’s first year-round presenter of American tap dance and contemporary percussive arts, launched its 24th season with JUBALEE, its annual gala benefit supporting performance, education and community programs. This special evening, hosted by broadcast legend, civic leader and all-around nice guy Bill Kurtis, took place October 28 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. At this year’s JUBALEE, CHRP honored Mayor Rahm Emanuel with its annual JUBA! Award for Extraordinary Commitment to the Community, Dance and Arts Education. Guests celebrated Mayor Emanuel’s relentless commitment to promoting dance, the arts and civic engagement by every Chicagoan. He joins the distinguished company of past JUBA! Award honorees including Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, Bill Irwin, Ted and Susan Oppenheimer, and Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra. The evening began with a cocktail reception and a silent auction, followed by performances featuring Ian Berg, Starinah Dixon and Nico Rubio—former CHRP scholarship students now touring nationally and internationally—with Greg Spero on piano, and ensembles FootworKINGz, Mexican Dance Ensemble, M.A.D.D. Rhythms West/Better Boys Foundation and members of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras. CHRP Founder and Director Lane Alexander presented Mayor Emanuel with the JUBA Award, noting the Mayor’s “belief in the essential role that the arts play not only in the life of the community, but in the private life of each individual. I’ve heard you talk about the transformative, healing and ennobling power of the arts and your passionate belief—shown through your actions—that the arts are not optional.” The Mayor, inspired by the performances he had just seen, and a video of members of Chicago’s dance community, discarded his prepared remarks. He commented, “When you think about Chicago, we are the most American of American cities, and there is no greater human expression…than dance…when you go around the world, every society has a dance as a way to pay tribute to a higher spirit.” The evening concluded with a live auction and dinner. Attended by nearly 200 people, the event raised nearly $150,000 from a combination of ticket sales, silent and live auction proceeds, table sponsorships, raffle ticket sales, and individual and corporate contributions. The Mayor also served as Honorary Chair. Co-Chairs included Lane Alexander, Judith Blank, Elaine Cohen and Arlen Rubin, Philip and Marsha Dowd, Patti Eylar and Charlie Gardner, Diana E. Harris, Bill Kurtis and Donna La Pietra, Paul Levy and Mia Park, Ted and Susan Oppenheimer, Cari and Barry Shein, Claudette Smith, and Richard and Diane Weinberg. The lead sponsor for CHRP’s 2013 JUBALEE was BMO Harris Bank.
More than 500 supporters turned out for an elegant evening to raise funds and awareness for La Rabida Children’s Hospital at the 27th annual 2013 Friends of La Rabida Awards Celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel. Honoring community and health care leaders who have shown a commitment to children with special health care needs, the evening was hosted by ABC 7's Ravi Baichwal. Special guests included NBC 5's Marion Brooks, Congresswoman Robin Kelly, State Rep. Kwame Raoul and Ariel Investments founder John W. Rogers. Guests were treated to a surprise video tribute to the Reinsdorf Family, the recipient of the evening's Family Philanthropy Award. Both the Bulls and White Sox have been longtime supporters of La Rabida, financially and by creating exciting and memorable experiences for patients at games. Players have also organized player and team ambassador visits to the hospital. “I’ve been part of this organization for 10 years now, and I see the amount of work you do in the community,” said Chicago Bulls Luol Deng in the video tribute to the family. “You are a great example of trying to make the world a better place.” Deng was joined in the video by several teammates, including Derrick Rose. Members of Gilda’s Club, where Nancy Reinsdorf is a board member, and the Chicago White Sox also sent video congrats. Drs. Cheryl and Eric Whitaker were honored with the Community Leadership Award. The two Chicago-based medical doctors have longtime ties to the University of Chicago. Today, Cheryl Whitaker is president and CEO of Whitaker Kinne Group in Chicago. Eric Whitaker is chairman and CEO of TWG Partners and chairman of NextLevel Health Partners. The Whitakers have both contributed to health care in underserved communities through research, program development and clinical practice. Eric co-founded the nation’s first clinic focused on black men’s health, and led the Urban Health Initiative, University of Chicago Medicine’s effort to improve health and health care access on Chicago’s South Side. Cheryl has worked more than a decade in the field of chronic-condition treatment in minority communities while developing population-specific approaches to self-management. Sharing Notes was honored with the Community Partnership Award. Founded by Allegra Montanari, a 2012 graduate of Roosevelt University’s Chicago Center of Performing Arts, Sharing Notes brings together local area musicians to perform community outreach. She sought out La Rabida a year ago to form a harmonious partnership that brings live performances to hospital patients each month. Floor nurses, child life specialists and families say the musical group inspires children and adults alike with lullabies such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and impromptu tunes like “The LeBron James Song" set to a Brahms lullaby. We are very excited to honor the work done by these individuals, whose support and commitment help the children of La Rabida and so many others,’’ said La Rabida CEO Brenda Wolf. Established in 1896, La Rabida is a pediatric specialty care hospital, treating children with chronic illnesses, developmental disabilities, and other lifelong conditions. It provides family centered care to 7,500 children with special health care needs each year at its lakeside location. (www.LaRabida.org ) (Photos by Neil Gates)
The Chicago Tribune has come up with an exciting new section, Blue Sky Innovation, that showcases the who's doing what in Chicago in the tech world and beyond. I loved one of their recent articles about the dynamic Coco Meers and her ingenious idea for making beauty more accessible for women (and men) in this busy world, Pretty Quick. Check it out!
Congrats to dear friend Giana Pisellini on her well deserved honor as "Working Mother of the Year"! She was chosen by her company Unilever, who was ranked in the top 100 companies for working moms, and had this to say about this one-woman dynamo, "Every morning Giana exudes a contagious positivity, even on the days where the night before she was dealing with a sick child, husband or beloved pet and had less than an hour of sleep. Through her passion for our business and love of people, she has brought strong talent into our organization." She was honored at an awards ceremony and will be featured in the December/January issue of Working Mother Magazine. Congrats with love Giana!
Congrats are also in order for AIBI, Apparel Industry Board, Inc., on their new location at 17 E. Pearson. Dubbed the "pop-up store that keeps popping", this new space located in a chic brownstone offers two main selling floors and a lower-level sales area. Marsha Brenner, AIBI executive director, said, "Our store is open every day of the week and features 12 local designers, offering everything from accessories and millinery, to sportswear and evening wear." Have you hugged a designer today? (www.AIBI.com)
Wonder what they're doing on the Left Coast? Well, the Associates for Breast and Prostate Cancer Studies, (ABCs), hosted its 24th annual, star-studded Talk of the Town black-tie gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Saturday, Nov. 23. The gala raised funds for breast and prostate cancer research for John Wayne Cancer Institute (JWCI) at Saint John’s Health Center. Actress Ann-Margret received the Spirit of Entertainment Award, actor Robert Wagner was honored with the Spirit of Hollywood Award and business leaders and community advocates Bill and Roseann Patterson were recipients of the Spirit of Hope Award. ABCs President Gloria Gebbia and First Vice President Sheri Rosenblum co-chaired the event, which featured entertainment from award-winning R&B legends the O’Jays. Actress and comedian Kym Whitley emceed. Since 1981, the family of John Wayne has been committed to pioneering cancer research in memory of their father, who died of cancer. For more than 30 years, the dedicated physicians and scientists at the John Wayne Cancer Institute (JWCI) have made groundbreaking discoveries that have changed the way cancer is detected, diagnosed and treated around the world. JWCI provides hope to cancer patients everywhere. Congrats on a wonderful event for a great cause! ( www.jwci.org). (Photos by Vince Bucci).
Actor Matt Jacobi is one of my favorite reality stars, darling, humble, witty, cute...the whole package! And I'm thrilled to congratulate him on his hot new show on the E! Channel, "The Drama Queen"! He has a starring role with Hollywood Royalty and celeb manager, Marki Costello. The show airs Sunday nights at 10 pm! I'll be watching Matt!
There's a new event space in town that's creating a lot of buzz! Gibson's Restaurant Group has recently introduced The Montgomery Club, 500 W. Superior (formerly Brasserie Ruhlmann). With 8,000 square feet of elegant space, it's sure to be a magnet for the hottest parties in town! For more deets, click here!
eDrop-Off Luxury Consignments will celebrate the opening of its new space on December 2nd in the Gold Coast at 1201 N. Clark St.! With curbside pick-up and drop-off, founder Corri McFadden has made it uber easy to consign! Watch for her next Fashion Vault sale that will include more than 200 items coming December 5-15! Congrats eDrop-Off and Corri!!!!
And last but not least, I want to congratulate Cece & Melinda of Raymi Productions on their 5th anniversary! Their next big Sassy City Chicks event will be on Sunday, December 15 at the Double Tree Mag Mile! Congrats, congrats, congrats to this hard-working, dazzling duo!
I hope you're all getting excited about the holidays! There's no prettier place around this time of the year than Chicago! I love the lights along the Mag Mile (the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Fest was over the top gorgeous! If you missed the broadcast, it will air again Sunday, December 1 from 1-2 pm and Sunday, December 15, from noon-1:00 pm on ABC 7 Chicago.), the Peninsula's beautiful decor and new Terrace skating rink, Tiffin holiday tea at the Langham (and its new pink cabs), Water Tower Place's Reindeer Games (where you can win $25K this holiday season) and the brand new light show at Morton Arboretum. And, as always, Macy's windows make me smile and I always find unique gifts at the Christkindlmarket. I also love knowing Com Ed's Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo are just blocks away. And I adore the decor at the Ralph Lauren Store on Michigan Avenue. The red lamp shades and understated elegance are so inspiring. I can't wait to begin holiday traditions in our new home. I hope you find lots to make you smile about, too, this year!
Much love, as always,