Monday, October 8, 2012

Anatomy of a party: Red Tie gala

I had so much fun Tweeting live from the Red Tie gala, a benefit for Charlotte's new Ronald McDonald House on Oct. 5 at the Levine Museum of the New South.

I was especially excited about this event because it was a first-time gala hosted by the nonprofit's Young Professionals Society. I've been in my job for two decades, so I've seen several waves of young people come up through the ranks to become community leaders. I was interested to check out the new crop of those in their 20s and 30s who want to network and have fun while giving back to a good cause. Featured in the photo above are Brandon Viebrock a philanthropist who owns several businesses including Revolution clothing store, and Emily Hudgens, director of Speedway Children's Charities.

I thought I would walk you through some of the party's highlights in case they give you ideas for your next soiree.

Entrance: Young people especially love to feel they're celebrities on the red carpet, so the organizers gave them that experience. A red carpet outside the museum lead to a backdrop with sponsor logos similar to what you see in US magazine where guests could have their picture taken before they walked in. Some of them jokingly called it their prom photo pose, but they loved it.

Vegetable platters are out: Armin's Catering provided the food and I noticed guests hovering over a tray...of vegetables? It's because of the modern way they were presented in small individual glasses with the sticks of raw veggies standing in the dressing. That's an easy trend to duplicate at home.

Serving pieces: The servers walked around with the food presented on the glass of a picture frame. Inside the frame was a copy of the gala invitation. Armin told me later that he buys the picture frames whenever he finds a good deal. He switches out what's in the glass based on the event. For example, when he catered a party at the Wadsworth Estate during the DNC for delegates from New Jersey and Maryland, he used maps of those states in the frames.

Floral decorations: I was impressed with the budget conscious but beautiful way the museum was decorated. Tall, tubular clear glass vases were filled with a few artfully placed small branches. Then a handful of inexpensive red crystals wrapped in gold jewelry wire for extra dimension were placed inside and the vase was filled two-thirds full of water for a romantic glow. On the tables, three votive candles surrounded three clear glass vases topped with Styrofoam balls packed with red carnations for a luxe look for less.

Fashion: As you can imagine, almost every woman had on a red dress and there were lots of men sporting red ties. One woman stood out in the crowd in a black and white outfit with a thrifty twist. Guest Jania Massey of Ethan & Zoey boutique ( wore slim satin pants with sparkly peep-toe heels paired with a white top with a bubble shape at the hem. It turns out the top was actually a dress that Jania had used double sided tape to turn into the silhouette she wanted. That's a great style tip from a pro.

Follow Olivia Fortson on Twitter @oliviafortson


scott davidson said...

As an artist myself, I enjoy reading Philip Koch's sensitive writing about Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, who along with Whistler and Rothko, are my favorite American painters.
I don't live in the United States but have traveled and passed a short time there. But even with the little time spent in your beautiful country, especially in small-town America, I can relate to some of the poetical feel that Hopper and Wyeth had captured in their art, which is for me part of the attraction of their paintings.
Browsing at the other day, as I do now and then, I find a good selection of Edward Hopper's work, ,in the big archive of Western Art, that customers can order online for canvas prints and even hand-painted, oil-painting reproductions can be made and sent to them.
Hopper's surrealistic and depersonalized world is there again. Timeless, yes, as it is still there now in the roadside cafes and diners that I ate at all over America.