WOODY'S WINTER WARM-UP; LANDAN TWINS ROAST FOR CHICAGO GATEWAY GREEN; ROONEY STARS IN CHICAGO WOMAN MAG; BBC SHOWCASES CHICAGO; NINA STEERS MARCHESA'S BIG OPENING; THE DJ FIRM'S TRENDS PARTY; STYLE RIVALS FASHION SHOW/COMPETITION; ART INSTITUTE AUXILIARY BOARD HOSTS 45TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION; GREEN TIE BALL 2018; HOT EVENT UPDATES; VIDEOS AND SO MUCH MORE! WELCOME TO 2018!
Chuck and I enjoyed another road trip to kick-off the new year. We had an itinerary that took us through 8 states--to a chic Palm Beach wedding, South Beach and even to Graceland, the home of the King! The Palm Beach wedding was between two dear, darling friends, Michelle Nicole Durpetti and Collin
Russell Pierson. Hands down, it was the most elegant, extravagant affair we've ever attended. The weekend long event began with a magnificent welcome party at the Breakers, one of the most beautiful luxury hotels in world. Originally planned around the North pool, the event was moved inside due to unseasonably cool weather. But that sure didn't put a damper on the festivities--on the contrary, I think the Venetian Ballroom was awe-inspiring and the decor couldn't have looked more beautiful. Hundreds of lighted globes hung from the ceiling casting a warm
glow over the crowd. Food stations offered every type of delicious dish imaginable and servers were everywhere waiting to attend to your every need. As a surprise, Collin had arranged for an
elaborate birthday cake, topped with sparklers, for a delighted Nicole. Loving speeches from groomsmen and bridesmaids followed. The ceremony took place
on January 6 at the charming St. Ann Roman Catholic Church in West Palm Beach. The entry was covered in bouganvillia as black-tie clad guests filed in. I saw Sarinda and Gian
Fulgoni, Peg and Steve Lombardo, Dina Bair and her husband John Maher, Ron Magers, Michelle Molise, Amy Jacobson, Derrick Taylor, Karen and
Phil Stefani, Howard and Bunny Frum and hundreds of others. Monsignor Ken Velo officiated and had the crowd in tears as well as laughter. When Michelle glided down the aisle,
wearing a magnificent gown with hand-stitched embroidery with her dad on her arm, she had to stop and ask him if he was alright. It was emotional for
everyone in the room to witness the love all around. When they reached the altar, and Tony and Marion had given her hand to Collin, Father Velo looked at Michelle and said, "You look so
beautiful, is that a new dress?" At the end of the moving ceremony, Father Velo again interjected a moment of humor. He said, "After the service, there will be a
second collection for Tony Durpetti." The crowd roared, stood and applauded as the new Mr. and Mrs. Collin Pierson were introduced. And just when you think it couldn't get any better, a gospel choir led by popular Chicago singer Tina Jenkins Crawley, sang and danced down the aisle to "Oh, Happy Day"! The cocktail reception was
back at the elegant Breakers--oohs and ahhhs could be heard throughout the grand Ballroom as partygoers experienced yet another magnificent room,
bathed in multi-colored lights and filled with lush florals, the space appeared as if something from a dream. Massive silver bowls held unlimited seafood choices-- stone crab claws, oysters, shrimp, mussels, smoked salmon, clams and more. Even bacon and deviled eggs were served! The piece de resistance occurred as soon as the ballroom doors opened. Every guest's mouth
dropped at the splendor of it all. Violinists filled both sides of the dance floor as two opera singers performed. The floral decor was
all white, from low bowls of roses to soaring trees topped with white flowers. Silver candelabras filled every table and votive candles were everywhere. Now I've been to quite a few grand galas but I have never seen anything as beautiful as this. Dinner choices featured bone-in filets or twin South African lobster tails, of course. Before the ceremony, I was
told Tony had been given a handkerchief by Michelle embroidered with "Keep your shit together" and the date. He is known to be emotional,
especially when it comes to his dear daughter, but on this night, he did what the hanky admonished and delivered a wonderful, loving tribute to both Michelle and Collin. (See video here). Even during the touching father/daughter dance, only loving smiles could be
seen on their faces. (See this darling video here). There were so many sweet surprises. Tony had flown in the Four C-Notes, a Jersey Boys cover group, one of Marion's favorites, to entertain the crowd. The napkins
were embroidered with the initials "MC" and, for the decadent dessert (baked Alaska) a chocolate heart contained "MC" as well. An after-party in the Gold Room was just as thoughtful,
offering guests ballet slippers to dance the night away! Every single detail was attended to with perfection--totally no surprise knowing Michelle! Her loving
parents, Marion and Tony Durpetti, are owners of Gene & Georgetti's (downtown and in Rosemont),The Estate (in Rosemont) and Bar Ida (coming soon). Michelle, their only child, was gifted with a wedding celebration that will never be forgotten--not only for them, but for all who attended. Love and congrats to this wonderful pair. We wish you a lifetime of happiness and more wonderful memories like these! (Additional pics by David and Luke Edmonson & Becca Kaufman).See more pics here: Gallery
While we were in Palm Beach, we felt privileged to stay at the elegant home of beloved auctioneer Leslie
Hindman. This longtime friend, who has a knack for real estate as well as the auction business, had recently purchased a chic property a block from the ocean and we were thrilled for the opportunity. The pool, decor, and layout is perfection--she even has a stuffed guard zebra named
Patricia! We also met up with the vivacious Kim Renk Dryer, a co-owner of Sequin (manufacturers of exquisite costume jewelry for its own line as well as top designers). She hosted us for two cocktail parties, including one attended by Ralph Lauren's handsome older brother, Lenny Lauren, and Sharon Bush, the beautiful ex-wife of
Neil Bush and mother to Lauren Lauren, her model daughter who married Ralph Lauren's youngest son David in 2011. The conversation, atmosphere and guests were all so interesting. Even Kim's late father-
in-law, Joseph Dryer, had an amazing history--part of which included having Ernest Hemingway as the best man at his wedding in Havana! The Omtvedts
(Lake Forest and Palm Beach) were also in attendance. The next day, I dined with Kim and a dear friend of hers at the legendary and chi-chi Everglades Club-- an historic,
VERY private club in the heart of Palm Beach with tennis courts, croquet and more. Members lunch in a dining room surrounded by hand painted images of the old Everglades while
watching golfers on perfectly manicured lawns. One of the beautiful ballrooms even has a retractable roof. Lush landscaping, ship's models, chandeliers, Oriental rugs and so much more
complete this historic tableau. Dinners and cocktails at the Leopard Lounge in the Chesterfield Hotel, Cafe Boulud at Brazilian Court, Taboo on Worth Avenue and
Buccan plus more casual fare at Green's Pharmacy and Toojay's at Royal Poinciana Plaza put the icing on our Palm Beach cake. The next phase of our journey took us to Fisher
Island in South Beach. There, dear friend, Jan Melk, was our gracious host. Her family helped develop this private, exclusive island and her condo boasts
storybook views of the downtown skyline as well as the Port of Miami, where ginormous container ships load and unload goods. Every type of bird can be seen during low tide out in the bay and the sunsets are such that photos could never do them justice. We
toured the Vanderbilt Mansion, dined on the beach, had pizza and wine on one of her expansive terraces, sushi at Tanuki, Cuban food at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar in the arts district and, for our last night,
enjoyed a delicious dinner at one of our favorite South Beach restaurants, Osteria del Teatro (1200 Collins). Sigh....we miss it ALL already. And, as if all of this activity wasn't enough, we decided to tick something
else off our bucket list, a visit to Graceland, home of the KING! We love to drive and Rooney is a wonderful little traveling companion too so it was all good! The day we arrived in Memphis, we learned the attraction had been closed down that day due to an unexpected ice storm. Thankfully, we had planned the visit for the next
day but the driving was treacherous and it seems they have never heard of salt trucks! (Made me appreciate Chicago!) Anyway, I had previously heard that the mansion was small and rather disappointing but we found the exact opposite to be true. The
17,552 sq. ft., 8 bedroom/8 bathroom house sits on 13.8 rolling acres filled with magnificent trees. Granted, it's all a bit kitschy with the entertainment complex, Vernon's Smokehouse and Gladys' Diner
restaurants and gift shops galore but, happily, I LOVE kitsch and found everything there to be of interest. The rooms were decorated as Elvis wanted and, even though no one would call him a style-setter or chic, I admire the fact that he did
everything HIS way-- in his music, jewelry, clothing and home decor. I was touched by the fact that guests weren't allowed into the rooms upstairs out of respect to him--this was his private domain and also where he died at age 42. Lisa Marie said her father never appeared downstairs unless he
was fully attired and bejeweled. She said she could "hear her dad coming" before she saw him because of his jewelry. There was so much to see and it
typically takes hours to do the tour and grounds justice. His car collection rivaled any Arab sheik's and there were two planes on display. The ICONS exhibit showcased the influence Elvis had on
other artists and entertainers. I especially loved this quote by John Lennon--"Before Elvis, there was nothing." The tour took us through the house
where we saw the famed "Jungle Room," his father's office, the Trophy Building, Racquetball Building and, of course, the Meditation Garden where Elvis was laid to
rest alongside his parents. There is even a memorial plaque in honor of Jessie Garon Presley, his stillborn twin. Other highlights included Elvis' Tupelo (where he
was born), a new Sun Records recording studio replica, Elvis in the Army exhibit and so much more. In 2013, the Authentic Brand Group bought 85% of Elvis Presley Enterprises but
Lisa Marie retains 15% and sole ownership of the mansion and her father's personal effects. We were thoroughly moved and, if possible, loved him even
more after this enlightening tour. And we finally got to sample Memphis' famous BBQ at Rendezvous! The dry rub was delicious but I still think our Chicago 'Q is just as tasty! See more pics here: Gallery
Hugh Hefner's parties were legendary and I've been lucky enough to have attended my fair share but, in my mind, all bets were off for this year's annual New Year's Eve party considering Hef's recent passing. So, when I received a text from his son Cooper, the magazine's chief creative officer, asking
if my email address was correct for sending an invite, I was surprised and elated. I knew the event wouldn't be held at the L.A. Playboy Mansion since it had been sold and, from reports, everyone had to vacate the premises by December 27. So I
anxiously awaited the news and then THE email arrived. I was thrilled to see that Cooper had used one of his dad's favorite pinup artists, Olivia De Berardinis, to again create the invite image. A scantily clad woman wearing Bunny ears, a fluffy tail and a sheer negligee invited guests to join him (Cooper) at a NYE party at the historic Culver Hotel, dress code "black tie, ball dress or
lingerie required." I went straight to my calendar and carved out time for Chuck and me to join the party! We saw the hotel from a mile away since the iconic Bunny logo was projected onto a two-story wall like a "bat signal"
(Cooper's words) (see video here). Security was tight and paparazzi had already staked out positions in front. Once inside the smallish ballroom, there was no mistaking you were at a Playboy party. Costumed
Bunnies mingled with the crowd taking photos (see video here) and PB logos were projected onto the walls with videos of magazine covers streaming inside. (I was happy to see that my February 1979 cover, the one I recently recreated, was one of the images chosen--see video here)! The Culver Hotel,
an historic boutique property located in West Los Angeles, was built in 1924 and once owned by John Wayne. It has a rich and romantic past and has played a distinguished role in cinematic history having hosted cast members from
iconic movies such as Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz to modern day productions like this one, Cooper's first solo New Year's Eve party. Inside the six-story, 46 bedroom
hotel, there are lots of cozy nooks and crannies (see video here). Seating outside allowed guests the opportunity to dine under strands of twinkling lights
and upstairs, at another chic bar, Playboy memorabilia was displayed in a glass case including the magazine's first and most famous "Marilyn" issue. Playboy photographs adorned every wall and a
Playboy Club Key allowed you access to a special room called the Bunny Cave. A buffet offered comfort food-- grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and more, including a long table filled
with desserts. Hors d'oeuvres were served throughout the evening. I decided on black-tie attire although I have indeed dressed in lingerie at past parties. This year, I felt the occasion required more civility
and, I was happy to see, most all the other guests, around 250 or so, did too. Actually, it was one of the most elegant Playboy parties we've ever attended. Beautiful young women who looked and dressed like supermodels attended alongside handsome young men all decked out in tuxes. Cooper and his gorgeous fianceé, actress Scarlett Byrne, set the tone.
Cooper looked like a hip 50's throwback to his dad's heyday--black tuxedo, pegged, short, perfectly-fitted slacks and a crisp white shirt
and bow tie. Scarlett was decked out ala Audrey Hepburn wearing a gorgeous floor-length green/turquoise gown with a low, v-shaped neckline and a simple strand of pearls. They never left each other's side the entire night and could often be seen gazing lovingly into each other's eyes. It was a delight to see Cooper so happy and with a partner who clearly loves and supports him. Entertainment was outstanding and
something exciting seemed to be happening at any given moment. Showgirls in silver top hats danced to "Puttin on the Ritz" (see video here), a hot band (Night Owl) had everyone on the dance floor, a singer from "America's Got Talent" (?) (a friend of Cooper's and Scarlett's whose name I missed) sang Sam Smith's "Too Good at Goodbyes" to rousing applause,
and more dancers performed other numbers throughout the evening. Playmates seen in the crowd included Jessica Wall (Sept. 2017), Milan Dixon (Oct. 2017), Tiffany Toth (Sept. 2011) and Summer Altice (August 2000). A section of the
ballroom had been cordoned off for Cooper and his family with a couple of security guards keeping a close watch. His mother, Kimberly Conrad Hefner (Playmate of the Year 1989), brother Marston and their grandmother were all in attendance. I didn't see any aging actors or scantily clad women like Hef's parties used to attract. I believe the crowd at this year's soireé accurately reflected the changing of the guard, both for Playboy and the magazine, one with a new, more youthful vision that embraces change. After the party
was in full swing, I noticed a new edition to Cooper's group--Tiffany Trump, President Donald Trump's and his ex-wife Marla Maple's daughter. She was much taller than I expected and clad in a figure-hugging, strapless, short, sparkling gold cocktail dress. She was hugged by all as her two security guards stood watch. It made me wish I had a security guard too since it seems everyone had one but me. Cooper and Scarlett, along
with guests, spent a lot of time on the dance floor. He even coaxed his mom Kimberly out for a number or two. I never saw Tiffany leave the security enclosure. As the countdown to midnight began (see video here), the iphones came out to record the historic moment--historic on many levels, the first post-Hef party, Cooper's first job as sole Playboy party host as well as a brand new year. The event exceeded all my expectations. Sparklers lit up the
room as black and white videos of Hugh M. Hefner's legendary life were projected onto the walls (see video here). Chuck and I were ecstatic to be witnesses and honored to be guests. Cooper whispered something so sweet in my ear that it brought tears to my eyes but this will remain my little secret. Following the celebration to ring in the New Year, Cooper took to the stage. He thanked guests for attending and choked up when he
spoke of his late father. I love the way he wears his heart on his sleeve and think this type of sensitivity bodes very well for Playboy's future. No one wanted to leave the party. It was a night for remembering the past and looking forward to a bright new era. It was a night to honor Hef and the remarkable legacy he left us. And I, for one, can't wait to join Cooper and Playboy on the next exciting leg of their journey. (To see Playboy Mag's NYE coverage, click here).
Former Chicago Cub Kerry Wood hosted his annual “Woody’s Winter Warm-Up,” a celebrity bartending fundraiser to benefit the Wood Family Foundation, at Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch and Chicago Sports
Museum on January 12. The event is held during Cubs Convention Weekend and, this year, over 600 guests were in attendance including some of Wood’s celebrity friends, former/current Cubs players and coaching staff. Many
celebs jumped behind the bar to serve drinks and set an event record for the number of tips raised ($11K)! A silent and live auction brought in $36K for the Foundation’s Pitch In
mentorship program that serves 4th through 8th graders in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. Emceed by US99 radio personalities Stylz and Roman, the evening included a premium open bar, food stations, raffle and “meet and greets” with
members of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. Guests enjoyed music from Ryan Chiaverini and the Suburban Cowboys and an appearance by former Bachelorette contestant, James McCoy Taylor (13th Season.) The
World Series Trophy also made a special appearance and allowed guests a unique photo opp. Magicians from Chicago Magic Lounge performed for fans throughout the evening. Attendees from the Chicago Cubs included Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison
Russell, Jason Heyward, CJ Edwards and Joe Maddon. Additional celebrity
guests included John Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Ryne Sandberg (former Cub Hall of Famer), Rick Sutcliffe (former Cub), David Ross (former Cub) Mickey O’ Sullivan (actor), Danielle Colby (appears on American Pickers), Israel Idonije (former Chicago Bear), Sarah Spain (ESPN), Danielle Robay (WCIU), Ryan Chiaverini (ABC-7, Windy City Live), Lisa
Fielding (CBS radio), Kelly Crull (Comcast Sports), Joe Soto (V103), Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times), Marley Kayden (NBC), Lauren Petty (NBC), Avril Mathie
(model/boxer) “This was by far one of our most successful warm-up events yet,” Kerry said. “Everyone had a blast and there was great energy in that place.
Really exciting to have those guys, Cusack, Rizzo, and Bryant, behind the bar taking selfies and having fun with everyone.” The Wood Family Foundation is a non-profit founded by Kerry Wood and wife Sarah in 2011 to improve the lives of children in and around Chicago.
If you love fashion as much as I do, I hope you can join me for this year's Style Rivals Fashion Show Competition on Thursday, March 29 at Low Res Studio! Fashion stylists from around Chicagoland will send their best looks down the runway in this stylish competition! Tickets are only $29-$40, click here and, if you're a stylist, you can
register here! Excited to be a judge for this friendly, chic competition! Join me!
Thanks to BBC One for including Chuck and me in its exciting new documentary, "Miriam's Big American Adventure", hosted by popular Brit actress Miriam
Margolyes! I was thrilled to show Miriam around Chicago--a makeover with my fav stylist Charles Ifergan, shopping at Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue with my fav personal shopper Cynthia Holbrook,
along with its PR guru/friend Tina Koegel, and finally to an elegant soireé at the Art Institute where she
had the thrill of meeting curator Gloria Groom. Watch this fun-filled clip here!
A big hearty welcome to a brand new jewel in Chicago's restaurant crown, Marchesa Chicago! At one of a series of opening night parties, we saw a gazillion friends and enjoyed an ambiance like none other--charming, cozy and chic with upscale European fare! What more could you want? Congrats to the hostess with the mostest Nina Mariano on this successful launch (located at 535 N.
Wells St.) and proud owners Kathryn Sullivan Alvera and Jason Clark! We can't wait to go back!
Rooney recently starred in his own doggy feature in Chicago Woman Magazine! His little paw had to be iced from signing so many autographs! Special thanks to founder/owner Kendra Chaplin and Jennifer Smith Tapp for including us!
The Art Institute of Chicago's Auxiliary Board will host its 45th anniversary celebration on Saturday, Feb. 10. Enjoy a cocktail reception, dinner in Terzo Piano and dancing the night away at the after-party in Griffin Court. All proceeds benefit the Art Institute. (For tickets and more info, click here!)
If you're hunting for unique Valentine's Day gifts, look no further than this weekend's Randolph Street Market! Join the fun on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 27 & 28, 1340 W. Washington from 10 am to 5 pm. Over 125 dealers are ready to delight and serve you! For more info, click here!
The famed Landan Twins, Andrew and Jon, are giving it up for charity! The Twins are taking the hot seat at an industry roast on Monday, January 29, at Prysm, 1543 N. Kingsbury. As you know, it's not a party unless the Landan Twins are there and, for this event, proceeds will be directed toward their favorite charity, Chicago Gateway Green! Hope you can come!
And, on that note, please save this date, Friday, September 14 (date subject to change) for the annual Green Tie Ball at the Geraghty! I'm thrilled to be co-chairing this signature gala event with the fabulous Nina Mariano! We can't wait to put our heads together with Grant DePorter, Tony Abruscato, Lee Golub, David Lissner and others to make this year's event a blockbuster for this amazing non-profit that keeps Chicago beautiful! (Check this link for updates and ticket info coming soon!)
The DJ Firm (DJ Sye Young and Eric Sampson) wanna show you what they got on Thursday, Feb. 15 at Row 24 Events (2411 S. Michigan). Witness the next level in event DJ and live entertainment at this cool, FREE party that will feature southern style BBQ from Sweet Baby Rays, sweets from the CandyBar and, of course, the latest nightlife trends! Register
here and let the music do the talkin'!
And now, here are some of my upcoming top party picks! The
Crystal Heart Ball hosted by Little Company of Mary on Saturday, February 3; First Look for Charity Auto Show opening night on Friday, February 9; Giordano Dance Company's 55th anniversary Legacy Ball (I will be the honoree and I sure hope you can join me!); Girls in the Game Gala, Thursday, February 22; Gala of Hope on Friday, February 23; Bear Necessities' 25th Anniversary Bear Tie Ball at the Geraghty on Saturday, February 24; Black and White Gala benefiting the Canine Therapy Corps on Saturday,
anniversary gala for Lookingglass Theater) on Saturday, March 24; Imerman Angel's Blue & White Party, Thursday, March 29; Joffrey Ballet's Spring Gala (celebrating artistic director Ashley Wheater's 10th anniversary) on Friday, April 20.
And lastly, I wanted to share some good news I received from the Chicago Tribune this week! My Candid Candace column increased its viewership by 40% this year! I would like to send out a heartfelt thanks to all those who read and support it!
Well, that's the news for this week! I hope you've enjoyed this latest edition and, if not already a subscriber, will consider signing up for this newsletter! My lists are never shared, only treasured! (Sign up here!)
Love, as always, and stay warm!
P.S. And, of course, something to make you smile!