The last time there was this much excitement about a fashion event was late Karl Lagerfeld‘s 2013 ‘Chanel Métiers d’Art’ at Fair Park, which saw the fashion set licking each other’s lusciously plump lips at an extravagance that was included Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talleyactress LiliCollins Fun riding a mechanical bull and embarked models and personalities like Hamish Bowles try their best in line dancing.
Flash-forward nine years, and a fashion-forward fervor of joy reigned at the 2022 Crystal Charity Ball Chair Suzanne Farris and 2022 CCB Fashion Show Chair Jennifer Dix announced last April that Dolce & Gabbana would be the lead designer for this year’s runway show at Neiman Marcus NorthPark on Thursday, September 8 due to the pandemic.
But like all relationships, there were subtleties that needed to be ironed out. Instead of a morning event and a tea presentation later in the day to accommodate the crowds, D&G regretted that even a high tea was definitely not their thing. Guests who signed up for the tea were advised that it would be an “aperitivo” instead.
With reservations pouring in non-stop, organizers juggled traditional CCB presentations in line with D&G’s approach. No escorts would be required to accompany the Ten Best Dressed (Marybeth Conlon, Tiffany Division, Monica Eastin, Libby Hegi, Kim Hext, Meredith country, Karla McKinley, Anne McPherson, Amy Prestidge and Kim Quinn), Hall of Fame Pat McEvoy or honorary chairman Gene Jones on the slope.
Like veteran diplomats trying to broker peace between Ukraine and Russia, Susan and Jennifer kept their cool as they walked through the minefields of the pop-up D&G “”.proposal“ over the months. One observer wondered aloud, “Isn’t it? [Dolce & Gabbana] Am I aware that the event is raising money for children?”
For some, the ever-changing recommendations were reminiscent of Van Halen’s driver needing a bowl of M&M candies in his dressing room – minus all the brown ones.
Finally, as Italians ended their annual August holiday month, things seemed to be calming down. Gene was allowed to be accompanied by her husband, Jerry Jones Sr.and son Jerry Jones Jr. The ten BDers and Pat were presented unaccompanied – and only their names were read, unlike in previous years when the 10 BDers were announced with a description of their community activities and charitable contributions. D&G had eliminated that element.
The night before the event, the D&G team dined at Carbone Dallas until the early hours of the morning.
The big day started with a hustle and bustle in the NM NP’s design department on the third floor. Overnight it had transformed from a designer clothing showroom into an elegant pop-up catwalk surrounded by rows of tables that stretched the length of the slightly elevated walkway. There was enough light at the top to test the durability of the Texan grid.
As a number of flower artisans arranged beautiful centerpieces for the tables, a legion of waiters rehearsed how the meals should be served. Like a Broadway production, the servers rehearsed with the skill of experienced performers.
A floor-to-ceiling wall was erected in front of the showroom doors to showcase D&G’s new tableware line. It would be a popular setting for selfies. On the other side of the escalator, another wall labeled D&G had been put up, hiding the gift gallery.
Before the 10 BD people and Pat came for their tour, the models went through a dress rehearsal. As the D&G and NM teams smiled in agreement, passers-by watched in amazement.
Backstage, the ladies-in-waiting were in their various stages of preparation, with clothes steamed to perfection and hair and makeup polished.
However, the 10 BD veterinarians were not so enthusiastic about walking the slightly elevated slope without an escort. It was understandable. Most of these women had never walked a catwalk, let alone under blinding lights and surrounded by hundreds of guests.
But Pat, who had walked the catwalk with an escort three times in the past few years, took a position she needed an arm to lean on. A last minute concession was made and a male model was ushered in.
As guests arrived for the pre-show reception, the BD ten along with Pat, Jennifer and Susan donned personalized black robes provided by philanthropists Nancy C Rogers and walked down the back corridors to the Zodiac Room, which had been transformed into a glamorous lounge with sofas, D&G fashion mannequins, champagne racks, live flower paintings and a DJ for Nancy’s private reception. It honored the ladies of the day as well as luminaries such as the newly appointed NM President RyanRoss and Market General Manager/VP Mary McGreevy JenningsNancy’s friends Kathleen Hutchinson and Sabrina Harrison and D&G President/CEO North American Dan Rothmanbrand ambassador Gui Siqueira and specialist in customer relationship management/public relations Sam Horowitzthe local who rose to fame for his viral 2012 bar mitzvah, which led to appearances on “Ellen” and “Good Morning America.”
The receptions themselves became a performance by D&G. A very established fashionista chose a D&G rose dress that she had bought in Aspen three years earlier. She wistfully wondered if there would be more of the floral designs destined for her wardrobe on the runway.
Another wore a recently purchased majolica print she bought in Florida, only to find D&G blue and white was the color of the day.
While general and private receptions began, the showroom was in the final stages of preparation, with personalized menus serving as place cards orchestrated by the 2022 CCB Registration Chair Lisa Rocchio. Little did Lisa know that despite the down-to-earth assigned seating, some rule-breaking guests were playing the “switching the cards” game at will.
A time-honoured rule of thumb when producing an event like this is to chill the room the night before. Although the room was packed to the max for both sessions, the decision was made not to turn up the air conditioning until 90 minutes before the doors opened. Perhaps that’s why guests designed their programs and personalized menu cards as hand fans.
When the doors finally opened for guests to take their seats, the six inch high runway proved a bit of a challenge for such Kristina Whitcomb with leg in cast and some AARP drivers with assigned seats opposite.
After Susan, Jennifer, Ryan and Dan greeted the guests, Dan announced that NM NorthPark would be exclusively stocking D&G’s new tableware line called “Dolce & Gabbana CASA” along with its new jewelry line through November.
With Mary introducing the Ten Best Dressed and Pat, the parade ran flawlessly and ended with Gene and the Jones gentlemen receiving the only standing ovation of the day.
Finally, it was time to start the D&G presentation, which proved that the design house had a remarkable collection that included patent leather dresses with puff and butterfly sleeves, new wave hoodies, lace-up tops and body-hugging dresses, and a Damier design mockup has produced fur coats with colors ranging from black on black to shiny and neon.
While there were plenty of necklines highlighted by garter belts and bras, the only hint of elegant evening wear appeared at the bottom of the lineup – a long dress of tulle and faux fur and the closers’ fishnet dresses with rhinestones.
The cell phone salutes that took place for the ten BDers, Pat and Gene were relaxed during the D&G portion and few rose for the occasion.
As the parade of models disappeared at both presentations, polite applause followed. The reviews became table fodder during mealtimes and in the days after, with comments such as: “So typical of D&G to be offbeat;” “This was the wrong show for the wrong group” “Daring and darling” and “It was definitely a shock and awful.”
However, in fairness, fashion is an art form that is constantly evolving by pushing the boundaries. Just as the ladies who shopped at NM when it opened in 1907 would never have shown an ankle, perhaps D&G’s fashion presentation that day was a portent of the future, or just a talking point for days to come.
As the afternoon diners departed and NM staff returned the showroom to a retail space, the D&G team closed up shop and returned to Carbone for one last dinner before flying back to Italy to prepare Kim Kardashian‘s Ciao, Kim at Milan Fashion Week. And the ladies of CCB continued their mission to raise $7,180,505 for 2022 beneficiaries (The Agape Clinic, Baylor Oral Health Foundation, Behind Every Door, Educational First Steps, Family Compass, Hope Supply Co., Southwestern Medical Foundation to benefit UT Southwestern Medical and United to Learn).