Friday, October 24, 2014

I love you, pumpkin

I heard that at a recent rustic chic wedding held outdoors by a lake, the decor included two pumpkins. One had "I" painted in white on it, and the other had "Do."

I had not heard of that cute design element before, but I think it's a fund addition to fall wedding decorations and can be tailored to your own personal style.

I found several examples online, including a few variations (pumpkins for the reception that say "Mr." and "Mrs." and a pumpkins carved with the initials of the bride and groom).


Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What I learned from Oscar de la Renta

When legendary designer Oscar de la Renta was in town for "The Art of Style" gala fundraiser hosted by the Mint Museum Auxiliary in 2011, I was thrilled to have a chance to talk with him one-on-one earlier that day during an event at Belk in honor of his new perfume, Esprit d’Oscar. (The photo above is of Oscar de la Renta at the gala with Clay Grubb, Kathleen Jameson and Deidre Grubb.) 

It was a surreal experience to be standing there with other guests and turn around and see the legend stroll in looking fit and tan with his stepdaughter Eliza Bolen, a business savvy style maker whom I’ve admired for years. Eliza was the inspiration behind his new perfume and her husband Alex is CEO of de la Renta’s company. The stylish trio could not have been more charming.

When it was my turn to chat with "Mister" (as his staff affectionately refers to him) he filled me in on some of his thought processes that have helped keep him on top of the fashion fickle industry for decades.

When I asked him what makes a woman elegant, he told me that elegance is how you live, not just how you dress. "To be dedicated to living elegantly takes a lot of discipline," was his verdict. "It’s about understanding yourself and being very visual and dedicated to surrounding yourself with beauty."

As far as his secret to not only remaining relevant, but setting the standard for others in his field, he explained his success this way: "I’m very competitive, and I constantly challenge myself."

And although he had thoroughly enjoyed the Art of Style gala the night before that included an exhibit of vintage and current gowns of his design on loan from the private collections of Charlotte women, he told me that not looking back is key. “When I see a dress that I designed, I don’t know if I did it 20 years ago or two years ago – I’m always moving forward and thinking about the future.”

It seems the future of his company is in good, familiar hands, especially when I found out that Eliza and Alex’s young son played a part in designing a dress for his grandfather’s collection. 

De la Renta was discussing his idea of using a Monet-like print for one of his gowns when his grandson spoke up and said that he was studying Monet in school and had created a painting inspired by the artist’s work. De la Renta loved it so much, he sent it off to his fabric maker in Italy who replicated the design.
“Now he’s asking about his commission,” joked Alex.  

Here are a few more of my favorite photos by Paul Williams III from the gala. I know anyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting Mister de la Renta will never forget his charm, talent and wisdom. 

Oscar de la Renta and Chandra Johnson

Committee members Laura Vinroot Poole and Sarah Pearce.

Committee members Lisa Weisiger and Pam Stowe. 

Art of Style co-chair Marianna Sheridan listens to Oscar de la Renta. Based on the relationships she formed during the planning of these events, Marianna was named Oscar de la Renta's Archivist in March 2012, a role that she continues to this day.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, October 20, 2014

A suite idea

At a recent family-friendly party I struck up a conversation with a stay-at-home mom who was there with her husband and their three children.

All of their children are under 10, so they're at a very energetic age.

When I asked her how she manages it all - kids, a husband, taking care of home and dealing with the many other demands of life, here's her secret:

"Every two months my husband and I leave the children with (a trusted) sitter and we spend one night at Embassy Suites," she said. "It's what keeps me sane."

She said they like Embassy Suites because it's nice and has a lot of extras they enjoy, but it's affordable to go there on a regular basis.

They sleep a lot, go to the Evening Reception cocktail party, and since they both love sports they like to gather with others in the bar and watch games on TV. In the morning they enjoy the made-to-order breakfast.

Rejuvenated, they return to their real life ready to take on the world again.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, October 17, 2014

Monster Mash Adoption Bash

CMPD Animal Care & Control and the Humane Society of Charlotte are partnering once again for a Hallowen-themed adoption event made possible by a grant from the ASPCA. The goal is to find 100 animals great new homes.    

The Monster Mash Adoption Bash is from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 18. 

It's at two locations: 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control, 8315 Byrum Drive; and the Humane Society of Charlotte, 2700 Toomey Avenue. 

A food truck and DJ will be at both locations. 

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, October 13, 2014

Charity Wedding Gown Sale

The Brides Against Breast Cancer Charity Wedding Gown Sale and Bridal Show is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 18 at Embassy Suites Charlotte, 4800 S. Tryon St.

Hundreds of new and gently worn designer and couture gowns from designers, manufacturers, bridal shops and individuals will be for sale. Gowns are sizes 4-18, priced from $99 to $3,900. Proceeds go to programs and services for those impacted by cancer.

If you want to be the first to shop, there's a VIP Event from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 17 ($45 for a bride plus a guest, $25 for each additional guest). It includes refreshments, entertainment and giveaways.

Admission to the Oct. 18 sale is $7; $10 at the door.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson 

Friday, October 3, 2014

A new signature Charlotte Symphony fundraiser

From 1972 to 2010, The Symphony Guild of Charlotte worked hard to put together the annual ASID Designer House, which became one of the most successful fundraiser of its kind in the country.

The Symphony Guild is now launching a new annual tour that will become its signature annual fundraiser, the Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour. It's from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 18; tickets are $25 ($30 at the door).

The tour of 12 indoor and outdoor kitchens at eight residences in the SouthPark, Myers Park and Eastover neighborhoods showcase current design trends. Each stop has a special event ranging from tastings from local chefs and food shops to flower arranging demonstrations and young musicians performing.

The opening reception, Prelude to the Tour, is 7-10 p.m. Oct. 17 at South End Kitchens, 1500 South Blvd. Tickets are $50. Proceeds from both the party and tour benefit the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras and youth music education.


Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Feast of the Hunter's Moon

Feast of the Hunter’s Moon, a fundraiser for Historic Rosedale Plantation, is at 6 p.m. Oct. 27.

The five-course meal accompanied by special wine pairings is served by candlelight under tents set up among the circa 1815 plantation home's grounds filled with ancient treasure trees and shrubs including 200-year-old English boxwoods.

Seating is limited. Tickets: $150;