Candid Candace: Culture


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A Celebration of Chicago Style was hosted by Cynthia Rowley and Nigel Barker, honoring Maria Pinto.

Chicago fashion is alive, well and thriving as witnessed by the chic, high volume number of guests who turned out for one of the hottest runway shows seen here in a long

Janet Isabelli, Maria Pinto and Jennifer Litt.

time. The Curio and the 21c Museum Hotel Chicago presented  “A Celebration of Chicago Style” on May 31. The evening, hosted by Cynthia Rowley and Nigel Barker, honored Chicago fashion designer Maria Pinto, while spotlighting rising luminaries that included Ajovang, Lola Elan, Production Mode and Sheila Rashid on the runway. The event was a great success in every way and made for one exciting night in the Windy City. Stylish guests posed for photographers and took selfies on the step-and-repeat before the show was presented

Stylish party guests.

in three rooms, to support the standing-room-only crowds!

Carrie Meghie (R) and glam friend.

Honoree Maria Pinto's exceptional contributions to Chicago fashion, including designing for nationally recognized leaders like Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, were lauded. Her collection encompassed signature couture pieces from over the years, coupled with looks from her latest M2057 collection. The finale piece brought gasps from the crowd as an elegant model sashayed down the runway in a floor-length neon yellow, flowing gown. The evening unfolded with a pre-reception that highlighted three Chicago-based accessory designers, followed by the runway presentation and a post-party. The accessory designers who stole the spotlight were Il Fratellino (footwear by Zac Rodriguez and Brian Atwood), Viviana Langhoff (jewelry) and

AIBI's Ambar Campos.

Laudi Vidni (bags by

Il Fratellino footwear by Zak Rodriguez and Brian Atwood.

Laura Kofoid). Emcee Cynthia Rowley, a graduate of SAIC who recently received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, expressed her delight in returning to Chicago and hosting the event alongside Nigel Barker. The event underscored the importance of nurturing and promoting local talent. Barker, a 21c Chicago Creative Ambassador and seasoned fashion industry veteran, echoed these sentiments, praising the event as a fantastic opportunity to elevate the city's profile and showcase the creativity and passion

Ajovang design.

intrinsic to the Chicago fashion community. Tricoci Salon & Spa helped the designers in bringing their collections to life as well as event partners Select Model Management, CS Magazine, Inspiro Tequila,

With Arabel Rosales and Meiling Jin.

Lure Fishbar, and wines, which were provided by Mmmm...Just Enjoy. The runway show was styled by Sal Vyet and produced by ZZAZZ Productions, with hot music provided by DJ Akib. This was the second event, out of four, where the 21c Museum Hotel Chicago and The Curio joined forces. The partnership aims to celebrate Chicago's diverse and vibrant fashion community


"A Celebration of Chicago Style" participating designers.


Priscilla Presley celebrating her birthday at Conagra (Jon Harris).

Priscilla Presley swept into town recently and captured the hearts of all she met here in the Windy City. She came to Chicago for her one-woman show, “An Evening with Priscilla Presley,” where she shared her memories of her life and Elvis at the Des Plaines Theatre on Sunday

With Priscilla, hosts Jon Harris and Jimmy Place and Sylvia Perez.

but, thanks to her longtime friend, Chicago native Jimmy Place, she got to experience so much more.

1)“If Elvis knew how many people came out today to hear his story/our story, he wouldn’t believe it because he honestly thought, when he passed, that everyone would forget about him so this warm reception brings tears to my eyes.” (2) “Elvis always wanted to do more serious movies, but the Colonel was always more focused on getting the money for the

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Priscilla made two personal appearances at the Teddie Kossof Salon & Spa in Northfield.

family.” (3) “I felt like Michael Jackson used my daughter to boost his flagging career. Lisa Marie never saw him and,

Chuck and Cilla sittin' in a tree.

usually, didn’t even know where he was.” (4) Elvis favorite song? “If I Could Dream,” because that’s exactly how he felt, he dreamed of a better world. He admired Martin Luther King and his mission. The song was written in one night. (5) About the supposed rift between her and her granddaughter Riley Keough. “All the things you read in the papers about my granddaughter Riley and me are a lie! We are very close.

Priscilla poses with the amazing chefs at Conagra in the Merchandise Mart.

This all came from a very jealous guy.” (6) One of her favorite pieces of Elvis memorabilia that she owned was his ivory-handled walking stick. It was stolen by her houseman and his wife and taken to France. “I was duped by this couple. I had no idea they had a record, I

Dedicated fans brought pics for Priscilla to sign during a Teddie Kossof Salon meet-and-greet.

got them from an agency.” (It’s never been recovered but is on the stolen art watch list).  (7) On Graceland: “Lisa Marie (before her passing) owned 15% of it but we are welcome there anytime. I always feel his presence whenever I visit. It’s almost frightening, I get a chill, and love feeling close to him.” (8) Pricilla appeared in three Naked Gun movies with O.J. Simpson.

Ron Onesti moderated the Q&A at the DesPlaines Theatre.

Onesti asked, “Did he do it?” Priscilla replied, “I knew his wife Nicole and she did write a note saying, ‘if anything happened to her, OJ did it.’ I do believe that, absolutely. I knew him and saw his temper. In fact, I was dating a guy, Michael Edwards a while back, and he told me (because I was filming a movie with OJ) that he used to date Nicole’s sister. And

The beautiful DesPlaines Theatre.

one night at a party, he was talking to Nicole when OJ came up to him, lifted him off the floor by his neck and said, “If you ever f-cking talk to Nicole again, I will kill you.”

Priscilla onstage--a fabulous video spotlighted highlights of her life with Elvis.

As you can see, she was very open and honest. The Q&A was followed by more questions from the audience. She shared that “she didn’t think she would ever get over losing Elvis.” Dolly Parton shared in a recent TV special that Priscilla told her as she and Elvis were leaving the courthouse following their divorce (and holding hands) that he was singing “I will always love you” to her. She is a gracious and elegant woman; genteel one would say. In my interview below, one of the questions I asked was ‘what is the one thing you want people to remember the most about Elvis'? Watch the interview below and hear her eloquent reply below.


Joan Clifford, Diane Landgren, Neal Zucker, Gary Metzner, Heather Zimmerman, and WB President Fran Del Boca.

Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor/singer Darren Criss wowed the Goodman Theatre Gala crowd on May 20, 2023, at the Fairmont Chicago. Over 600 black-tie clad guests enjoyed a cocktail reception in the

Darren Criss with co-chairs Neal Zucker and Gary Metzner.

International Ballroom before dinner in the Imperial Ballroom. As guests tucked into the first course, Darren Criss launched into an hour-long set backed by a three-piece band. He had the crowd in the palm of

Mark and Robin Tebbe.

his hand from the start as he sang songs from Cabaret and a dynamic cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” He proved to be a multi-talented performer playing both the piano and guitar as well as charming the crowd with his winning personality. He received a well-deserved standing ovation. Criss has a long resume of successes including his award-winning performance as serial killed Andrew Cunanan in “The

Maria Wynne and John Robak.

Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” He rose to fame starring on the television series Glee and has appeared on Broadway and in film.  He also has released several musical albums. Following his performance, Criss took time backstage for the media as well as a meet-and-greet with VIPs. He told

Sheree Schimmer and Bruce Adelman.

me, “I’ve spent many good times in Chicago out of college and I even started a theatre company here. Chicago is sort of the home base for a lot of improv and I have nothing but love and respect for the creative spirit here.” The Gentlemen of Leisure band enticed guests onto the dance floor with a brightly lit “Goodman” sign shining like a beacon in the background. The event was co-chaired by Gary Metzner and Neal Zucker with

Elegant ballroom at the Fairmont.

Joan Clifford serving as the Benefit Events Leadership Chair. The Goodman Theatre is Chicago’s oldest and largest not-for-profit theater. It has won international renown for the quality of its productions. Next up, “The Who’s Tommy,” which will be reimagined and brought to the Goodman stage on June 13- July 23. (

Darren criss
Multi-talented Darren Criss wowing the crowd.


Chuck enjoying the first Randolph Street Market of the season!

Sally Schwartz, the founder of Randolph Street Market, could not have been more pleased with the perfect weather over the as she celebrated the 20th anniversary

Leilani (R) and friend enjoying the day.

of the “world’s largest and liveliest urban antiques market”AND the first market of the season! Fans and friends came out in droves Saturday and Sunday to enjoy vintage treasure hunting from nearly 200 dealers, live entertainment, food trucks and more. After suffering through Covid, Sally told me she was “about ready to chuck it” but, after a forced rest, she

Amazing crochet artist Joyee Grebenor.

came to realize how important the Market was to her. “I had been on such a hamster wheel and had spent so much of my early life hustling. But when Covid came around, I was forced to sit back and reflect. And I think because it was something I couldn’t have, that I came to prize it even more.”  Sally describes the current

The Happy Lobster Truck--so delicious!

Randolph Street Market as “just like a party.” And indeed, it is! The Happy Lobster Truck had a line, Dinky Donuts was doing brisk business, and the second band of the day was just setting up to perform. And now with a indoor garage on the premises, there is no excuse not to visit! The Market was also voted one of the top ten U.S. flea markets by USA Today. (Check out the next markets: July 29/30; September 23/24 and November 11/12, Plumber’s Hall (indoor/outdoor), 1341 W. Randolph,



Tanya Polsky, event organizer along with Robin Tebbe and Cari Sacks.

Philanthropists Tanya Polsky, Cari Sacks and Robin Tebbe hosted a fundraiser to benefit Ukraine at the Salt Shed on May 30. The night included a briefing on the war

"Sweet" event details.

presented by U.S. Army and Marine Veterans who have provided direct humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. The evening raised funds for Operation White Stork, a U.S. Veteran-led nonprofit organization that delivers life-saving medical aid kits (IFAKs) and equipment directly to the frontline as well as provide evacuation support.The evening began with a buffet, cocktails, and mingling. Guests included many bold-faced names who enjoyed pre-program music by the Chicago Bandura Ensemble, made up of Ukrainian band members. Marianna Kulikova, a Lyric Opera member, sang the Ukrainian national

U.S. Marine Vet William McNulty, head of mission for White Stork.

anthem before emcee Hal Weizman, introduced the speakers. U.S. Marine veteran William McNulty (head of mission for White Stork), U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Alexander

Chicago bandura ensemble
Chicago Bandura Ensemble

Vindman and Max Cormier, U.S. Army and deputy head of operations, all spoke at the event. Cormier, who delivered supplies to the front lines, shared, “I think we have to stop the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Otherwise, if they take Ukraine, they’re not gonna stop there. They will come for us.” Vindman said,

Panel discussion with Hal Weizman, William McNulty, Alexander Vindman and Max Cormier.

“Governments have fallen short consistently in their support because of the ‘Russia factor.’ We put Russia above other important relationships because of its nuclear arsenal.” McNulty told the audience that White Stork only delivers kits to “end users” to ensure that the kits are put 

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Lyric Opera's Marianna Kolikova and Tanya Polsky's son sing the Ukrainian national anthem.

directly into the hands of people who are fighting. At the start of the war, White Stork managed one of the largest evacuation programs in Ukraine, safely transporting 37, 829 women, children, and elderly to government reception centers in Poland. The nonprofit provides non-lethal assistance and humanitarian aid. They

White Stork reps demonstrating their medical aid kits.

do not provide weapons or ammunition. When speaking generally about the war, McNulty added, “The kits help save lives but what will really win the war are drones- simple DGI Chinese-made NAVAC 3 drones. What the Ukrainians are doing on the battlefield with these things is incredible. This is the super bowl of drones right now. It’s the first full-scale drone war that we’ve seen.” The Salt Shed, an indoor/outdoor music venue that was formerly the Morton Salt site, opened last summer at 1357 N. Elston. Owner Craig Golden was the evening’s event sponsor. (For more info or to donate, visit


Josh Hale presents award to Lindy and Mike Keiser for their longtime support of Big Shoulders Fund.

The Big Shoulders Fund brought back its biennial Humanitarian Award Dinner, which was hosted in person for the first time since 2018. More than 700 friends and partners gathered at the Hilton Chicago to celebrate the  Big Shoulders Fund mission and honor two steadfast Big

Big Shoulders Fund's fearless leader, Josh Hale (president/CEO).

Shoulders Fund supporters, Mike and Lindy Keiser. At the event, Big Shoulders Fund announced a fundraising total of $8.5 million but the Keisers’ enthusiasm for the mission inspired them to increase their personal commitment to $2.5 million and bring the fundraising total to the $10 million milestone. Mike

Students in Big Shoulders Fund Schools proudly share their school's names at event.

Keiser, a golf course architect by profession, and his wife, Lindy, have supported students and families within the Big Shoulders Fund community for over 20 years.  This year’s event featured a musical performance by award-winning film, television, and Broadway star Jenn Gambatese; Choir performances from the students from Academy of St. Benedict the African and Leo High School; Current student and alumni reflections; Student artwork and poetry and A video tribute to the Keisers. The Big Shoulders Fund Humanitarian Award Dinner was first held in 2008 and since then has raised more than $62 million for scholarships, academic and enrichment programs, instructional equipment, much-needed school facility improvements, faculty support, operating grants and more.


A serval named Kyan made an appearance in the Chicago Hilton's Grand Ballroom for Whirl.

The Chicago Zoological Society’s (CZS) Women's Board and Board of Trustees hosted its 42nd annual black-tie gala on April 29. The event raised more than $1.6 million, which will benefit animal care and welfare initiatives, as well as the conservation and education programs of the Chicago Zoological Society. This year’s theme—Gorillas in

Romana, Michael and Paige Malinowski pose with T-Mo, a two-toed sloth. 

Our Midst—highlighted the new 2-acre outdoor habitat for Brookfield Zoo’s western lowland gorillas, orangutans, and other primates that is scheduled to open in 2025. The fundraiser, which was attended by 525 corporate, civic, and philanthropic leaders from the Chicagoland area, was

Whirl co-chairs Sasha Gerritson and Barbara Bradford.

held at the Hilton Chicago. It was co-chaired by Barbara Bradford and Sasha Gerritson, both members of the Society’s Board of Trustees and Women’s Board. The evening began with a cocktail hour and featured several of Brookfield Zoo’s animal ambassadors, including a blue-throated macaw; T-Mo, a Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth; PJ, a prehensile-tailed porcupine; Norman, a cape porcupine; a snake, tamandua, and a tarantula. Also, during cocktails, guests were

Arnold Randall, general superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County; Cheryl Thomas, Chicago Zoological Society board chair; Toni Preckwinkle, president of Cook County; and Dr. Michasel Adkesson, president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society and director of Brookfield Zoo.

able to view a detailed architectural model of the new outdoor primate habitat.  A three-course dinner followed in the Grand

PJ, a prehensile-tailed porcupine, charmed zoo ball guests.

Ballroom, which was beautifully decorated by Phillip’s Flowers. While dinner was being served, several more animal ambassadors took center stage, including the Zoo’s popular Humboldt penguins, represented by Pepe, Pedro, and Pepero, and Kyan, one of the servals. An impactful and heartfelt video, narrated by the Society’s staff, highlighted personal insight and anticipation to what the animals and guests will experience when the new outdoor primate habitat opens. Also appearing in the video was an inspiring 9-year-old girl, who donated money to the Zoo that she raised from selling lemonade. The evening also

Beautiful decor by Phillip's Flowers.
Molly and Jeff Keller.

featured a paddle raise, raffle drawing, and a live auction featuring incredible items that included: a royal stay at the historic Le Grand Controle in Versailles, France; a diamond collar necklace with a matching set of hoop earrings in 18 karat white gold and titanium; a four-day and three-night stay in a Club Level suite at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota; cocktails with the big cats and the opportunity to meet the staff who care for them at Brookfield Zoo; and the chance to name a baby Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth, who made a special appearance. Additionally, guests were able to purchase beautiful animal prints from the Save the Species Wall. Dinner was followed by dancing to the music of the Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra.


Janet Mandell and event host Mary Lasky.

Beautiful Mary Lasky hosted a "Haute Mama Luncheon" at Maple & Ash recently with a crowd of fashionistas in

Panelists with Sylvia Perez.

attendance. The event was hosted by Fox-32's Sylvia Perez and benefited Sarah's Circle (a nonprofit that supports homeless women in need) and Semi-Colon Bookstore and Gallery. Panelists included Clothilde Ewing (children's book author); Janet Mandell (owner/CEO Janet Mandell); Tarrah Cooper Wright (CEO/partner, Rise Strategy Group) and Karen Herold (Founder/creative director Studio K). Janet presented a chic fashion capsule show before the delicious luncheon. 


The new Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Walter.

York Furrier’s John and Kathy Rezny had much to be proud of as their beautiful daughter Kelly Nicole walked

The bride's proud parents, John and Kathy Rezny.

down the aisle with her longtime love Stephen Walter. The Drake Oak Brook was the beautiful setting and the day was as perfect as the ceremony. The happy couple were married by Kelly’s sister in a short, but sweet ceremony that was followed by a reception on the terrace. A lavish dinner was served in the Three Oaks Room where the crowd witnessed a loving first dance. Dancing followed to the beats of DJ Akib. So much love and congrats to the happy couple, the Rezny and Walter families and all their friends! Long May They Love!  


May 9, 2023

April 9, 2023

February 27, 2023

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