Monday, December 30, 2013

Free NYE fun

Charlotte’s biggest New Year’s Eve bash, WBTV First Night Charlotte, is celebrating its sixth year by moving to a new location, Romare Bearden Park at 300 S. Church St.

The alcohol-free event that focuses on the arts starts with the First Night Kids celebration from 1 to 6 p.m. on the Church Street side of the park with a countdown beginning at 5:50 p.m.

First Night evening events are from 7 to 9:30 p.m. The countdown starts at 10 p.m. with headliner Sol Fusion.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus

Christmas really is a season of miracles.

I was sitting at my desk thinking how good I've been this year when suddenly I heard a jolly voice yell out my name.

I turned around and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Santa and Mrs. Claus, both so very, very dear. He dropped by to confirm that yes, I had been good. I knew it!

During the year, Santa works here under the name Mark Cory. I love to see him pull out of the parking lot in his big vehicle. He told me that children go crazy when they see him roll around town.

Mrs. Claus is very supportive of her husband's work. She loves to accompany him to events and help him spread Christmas cheer.

After much demand from people who have seen him out and about, Mark has decided to finally give in and make himself available for holiday parties and other events. Obviously he's very busy over the next few days, but there's always next year. Believe it or not, he's already getting bookings for 2014.

If you're interested, he can be reached at 704-681-5063.

You don't have to tell him I sent you. He'll know.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte

The buzz is building about “Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte,” North Carolina Dance Theatre’s signature black tie fundraiser on Jan. 11 at Knight Theater that pairs leaders in the Charlotte community with professional dancers from the troupe in a fun competition.

During the After Party, Philip Bailey, the voice of Earth, Wind & Fire, is scheduled to make a guest appearance with the band Big Swing and the Ballroom Blasters. That’s just one of the many fun details about this evening. 

Tickets start at $100;

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, December 9, 2013

Good Friends Luncheon Dec. 12

One of the most meaningful fundraisers in Charlotte is coming up Dec. 12 from noon to 1:30 p.m. when 1,000 women gather for the 27th annual Good Friends Luncheon at the Charlotte Convention Center. 

The nonprofit uses 100 percent of the money collected at the event to help needy families and children in Mecklenburg County pay for small needs that make a big difference such as eyeglasses or a baby crib.

Last year’s event raised more than $160,000 that was used to help 2,700 people.

The cost to join is $65 a year. The luncheon is free for members; guests pay $20. Details:

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A simple Southern appetizer

Now that we're in the thick of the holiday shopping frenzy, I highly recommend Julia Reed's book “But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria: Adventures in Eating, Drinking and Making Merry.” It's filled with some of her hilarious essays and delicious recipes.

I met Reed during her book signing at Capitol, and she is so charming, delightful and fun. 

She’s a wonderful writer who has lived such an interesting life that her words bounce off the page and suddenly you feel that you’re part of the party.

When I asked her how she prefers to entertain at her home in New Orleans, she told me she likes to keep things simple. One of her favorite hors d’oeuvres to serve is a watermelon rind pickle wrapped in bacon and broiled. “It’s so easy, but I promise you people will be chasing the trays down,” she said.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Festival of Trees

If you're at SouthPark mall during the next few days, be sure to check out the Symphony Guild of Charlotte's Festival of Trees, a display of the beautiful small holiday trees decorated by everyone from area designers to businesses and nonprofits. 

Here's one of my favorites, which designer Melissa Melvin calls Couture Christmas:

The trees are on display in SouthPark mall’s Circle Court (between Belk and Neiman Marcus) through Dec. 3. The trees move to the lobby of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center Dec. 4-8 in conjunction with the symphony’s performance of the Magic of Christmas presented by SPX.

To view (and bid) on the trees, go to Proceeds benefit the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony youth orchestras and youth music education. 

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Turducken? Oh yeah

While I was at Wells Fargo yesterday waiting in the lobby for a meeting, I struck up a conversation with the security guard. I asked him what he was doing for Thanksgiving and he told me he was going to be with his brother and sister-in-law at their house here in Charlotte.

He went on to say that they're from New Orleans and started naming off some of the dishes they'll eat, including a Turducken.


I had never heard of a Turducken before. He explained that it's a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck which is stuffed into a deboned turkey. That sounds so over-the-top but something I think my guests might like to try. Especially if it's recommended by someone from New Orleans.  (His family orders their Turducken from a company in New Orleans.) 

It's too late to change course for tomorrow's feast, but I think I might try the Turducken next Thanksgiving. 

I went online to do some research and I found that you can also order Turducken dog food so every member of the family can enjoy a special treat.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, November 25, 2013

A tip for T-Day, and beyond

My family rotates Thanksgiving hosting duties every year. This time, all I have to do is show up with a broccoli casserole. Hooray! That's something that really makes me thankful.

But next year, it will be at my house so I’m already thinking of ideas to make it special.

I saw one tip mentioned in a magazine that I love: Have a beautifully framed bulletin board set out with some paper and pens so your guests can write down what they’re thankful for and it will be on display for everyone to see.

A holiday focused on giving thanks reminds me of one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received. I was in a very difficult time of my life and I was confiding to a woman who is a major role model for me. As I was telling her about this one part of my life that was not working out, and how I couldn't let it go, she told me to never worry about what I don't have. Instead, concentrate on all that I do have and be thankful.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, November 18, 2013

Relief sale for Philippines Nov. 20

Ten Thousand Villages started in 1946 from the trunk of its founders car. Now it has grown to become one of the leading Fair Trade organizations.

Its web site, and its more than 300 stores across the country, support skilled artisans in places of the world where they lack opportunities to make a living. 

On Nov. 20, its web site and participating stores will donate 10 percent of the day's sales to help typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines.

On the web site, you can search for items that are made in the Philippines. Although anything purchased on the site that day will help raise money for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, I think it would be a great gift idea to purchase something for a family member or friend that was specifically made in the Philippines. 

Here are a few of my favorites. For more ideas, go to

 Dove ornament, $10.
 Spirit blossom card, $5.
Newspaper necklace, $24.
 Hungry bunny coin purse, $10.
Teal earrings, $16. 

Bowls and tray, $28. 

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, November 15, 2013

Showcase of Artisans Nov. 16

The Charity League's 66th annual Showcase of Artisans fundraiser is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 16 at Saint Gabriel's Catholic Church, 3028 Providence Road.

It features holiday home decorations, pottery, jewelry design, glasswork, quilting, collage art, fashion accessories and more. Also for sale will be the Charity League Cookbook, which makes a great gift for your Charlotte friends living here or who have moved away since it's "The Official Cookbook of Charlotte." 

I'm wild for this jewelry created by vendor Stephanie Anne. She uses tassels, vintage medallions and geometric shapes. Isn't it gorgeous? And it's just a sampling of the beautiful items vendors will be offering:

Proceeds from the showcase go to the programs of the intergenerational nonprofit, which is celebrating 92 years of helping at-risk children in the Charlotte area.

Details: And be sure to "like" the Charity League of Charlotte on Facebook. "Like" is the new love, and love is what motivates this group of caring women, so they deserve a lot of "likes." 

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Behind the scenes with a legend

One of the fun things about my job is that I get a chance to interview and meet with a slew of celebrities who come through town. 

At the top of my list this year was meeting one of my personal media heroes, former Town & Country editor Pamela Fiori. I'm an avid Town & Country reader, especially during her 17-year reign there. I've admired her from afar for so long that it never occurred to me that I might actually have the opportunity to meet her in person one day. I also love her books on Capri, St. Barths and Palm Beach.  The photo collage above are pictures from two of Pamela's books.  

Pamela was the speaker at the Mint Museum Auxiliary's Fall EnrichMINT fundraiser at the Mint Museum uptown on Nov. 7. If you go to you'll see my Scene & Heard column, video and a slideshow from her talk. There were a lot of interesting parts of her speech, and my interview with her afterward, that I didn't have space to mention in my article. Here is more of her wit and wisdom:

  • Pamela stayed at the Duke Mansion while she was here. She absolutely loved Charlotte, thanks in part to the warm welcome she received from the amazing ladies of the Mint Museum Auxiliary. "Charlotte is beautiful. To me, it represents the best of America," Pamela said. 

  • I always thought Pamela was from a pedigreed background, but she grew up in a solid middle class family in Union, New Jersey. Her best friend since 5th Grade, Vicki Goldenberg, traveled to Charlotte to be with her. Vicki was as delightful as Pamela. "We don't get to see each other as often as we would like, but we have always made an effort to stay in touch. You have to reach out because it's so easy to let old friends slip out of your life," Vicki said. (In the photo at the top of this blog, Pamela is in the center and Vicki is on the right.)
  • Of all the people Pamela has met in her career, the person who is one of her favorites is Robert Redford. (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Paul Newman were also tops on her list. So was Audrey Hepburn, although they never met. Hepburn inspired Pamela's interest in UNICEF, and Pamela went on to receive its Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award.) What she admires about Robert Redford is how he has never compromised his standards, he only does work that he thinks is important and philanthropy is part of his life. She also got a kick out of  how he never wanted to be recognized for his good looks. "He hates it when people tell him he's handsome.
  • When I asked her what really bothers her about today's world, she said that people ask questions but then they don't listen to the answers. She's also disturbed by how electronic devices have made us detach from the world around us. The main message she wanted to get across is that we all need to pay attention to what's going on around us - in our lives, our community, or country and our world. 

Pamela, I'm paying attention to everything you say and I truly respect your observations and opinions. Let's talk more over a cocktail in Capri. Until then, ciao bella. 

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wedding gown discounts for military brides

In honor of Veterans Day, David's Bridal is offering a nationwide 20 percent military discount on the purchase of any bridal gown in stores only from Veterans Day through Nov. 15.

It's open to members of the military - past or present. Shoppers must present a valid military ID of themselves or their future spouse at any David's Bridal in the U.S. only. 

It applies to service members as well as those who are marrying a service member.

"Many of our brides have connections to the military, so giving back to those who serve our country is very important to us," said David's Bridal Executive Vice President Cynthia Harriss in a statement. "In celebration of Veterans Day, we want to show our support and appreciation for all of these brave men and women and their families."

The discount applies to every bridal gown in store – from David’s Bridal’s core collections to designer gowns including White by Vera Wang, Melissa Sweet, Oleg Cassini and more.

For details, go to For details about the USO's "Every Moment Counts" Campaign, go to

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Southern Christmas Show Preview Night

Be the first to see the Southern Christmas Show during its Benefit Preview Night on Nov. 13 at The Park Expo and Conference Center, 2500 E. Independence Blvd.

From 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. guests will get to peruse the show while raising money for the programs of the Junior Woman’s Club of Charlotte and the Charlotte Observer’s Empty Stocking Fund.

Tickets are $17 at the door. Details:

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Vintage with a modern twist

As I write this, many members of the Young Affiliates of the Mint Museum (YAM) are getting ready to put on their 1920's inspired cocktail dresses and suits for its first Fall Ball.

The Mint Museum Uptown will be turned into a jazz-era club for the inaugural event on Nov. 8. Guest are encouraged to wear “speak-easy” attire to the party that includes 1920s-inspired food and cocktails, music from the band Cookie, a silent auction and an after-party at Bubble. 

Proceeds go to "Bearing Witness: The New York Photo League and Sonia Handelman Meyer," a YAM-sponsored exhibit that will be featured at the Mint Museum Randolph beginning Nov. 24. 

If you miss the Fall Ball, the next fun thing on the YAM calendar is its Holiday Party from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 10 at Brio Tuscan Grille, 4720 Piedmont Row. Non-members are welcome. Details:

In honor of the Fall Ball, the Young Affiliates of the Mint worked with Tatyana M Photography and stylist Caroline Hamlin Byrnes using clothes from Belk to show how to wear a vintage look with a modern twist - a look that's increasingly popular now among young men and women. 

Here are some of my favorite photos from the beautiful shoot:  

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Open Call Nov. 9 for female talent

The Benoit Agency, a female-focused talent and personal development firm, is holding a free, open call for females of all ages interested in modeling, acting and pageantry. It's from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 9 at   Piedmont School of Music and Dance in the University area at 3220 Prosperity Church Road #103. 

I met agency founder Mia Heaston Benoit recently at "The Art of Fashion" a fundraiser for the Mint Museum held at Neiman Marcus. She definitely stands out in the crowd for her beauty and poise. 

The evening was ending and guests were leaving when I spotted her and her husband Dexter, the founding attorney of Benoit Law Firm. I grabbed my photographer Daniel Coston, turned on my video camera and we descended on them. They could not have been more gracious. When I asked her to twirl so we could get a picture of the back of her dress, which had a ladylike cutout, she and Dexter broke into an impromptu dance that became one of my favorite parts of the video of the evening.

Here are the photos of Dexter and Mia from The Art of Fashion:

At The Art of Fashion, Mia gave me her card and I wasn't surprised to find out that she was Miss Illinois USA 2007 since she radiates beauty, intelligence and charisma.

When I talked to her on the phone recently, she told me that she decided to start the agency - the only one in the Southeast founded by a woman for women - to fill the demand of the growing film and entertainment industry in Charlotte, and to help those interested in pageantry.

"We're looking for girls and women of all ages, races, backgrounds and sizes so we can find fresh, new faces interested in the modeling, acting and pageant world," she said. "We want to get as many to come out as possible so we can start working with clients."

She started out as a model at 12 and was recruited into pageantry. Her winning title helped her pay for her MBA, so she knows first-hand the positive side of pageantry.

Attendees should bring a non-returnable head shot and be prepared to demonstrate skills such as walking the runway or performing a monologue that the agency provides. All ages are welcome, from infants to adults. 

"We're not concerned  with what typically books work," she said. "We're looking for people who are unique and have great personalities, positive energy, good attitudes and who want to work really hard."

Because she's been to open calls where she's been there all day, she is planning for her  event to move quickly. After it's over and she and her team have evaluated everyone, they'll call back anyone they're interested in working with.

The agency also offers workshops for professional development that are designed to help empower women and build up their self-esteem.

Details:; 704-900-3475.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, November 1, 2013

The perfect princess costume

I have always loved to dress up for Halloween.

One of my best childhood costumes was Princess Leia from "Star Wars." I coiled my long red hair into big buns on either side of my head, made a tunic out of a white bed sheet and slathered on some of my mother's silver eye shadow.

This year, another princess has usurped Princess Leia as my all-time favorite.

I have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who unfortunately does not share my love of dressing up in costumes. A month ago, one of my sweet co-workers gave my dog a little pink cowboy hat. My mind jumped ahead to Halloween and I thought maybe I could dress as a cowgirl, too, and we could have matching costumes. Then I put the hat on her and her eyes became dull and she looked as if I had stolen her soul.

Because she's such a sweet girl, she let me take her photo, then she literally hung her head in shame and I could not get her to move until I had taken the cowboy hat off.

It just wasn't her style, and I have to respect that.

A few weeks later, I was at Party City and came across the perfect costume for her - a tiny crown! After all, as a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, she is royalty. As you can see, it suits her.

I put together a Queen costume and together we were quite the royal pair for Halloween. The King hastily took this photo on our patio before our trick-or-treaters arrived:

The Princess and I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween filled with lots of treats and no tricks!

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, October 28, 2013

Simon Fashion Wow

SouthPark mall was the site of the recent Simon Fashion Now, a free annual event devoted to beauty, fashion and fundraising. It was so exciting that I'm renaming it Simon Fashion Wow. 

There are few things I love more than a beautifully produced fashion show and this event was filled with them. Professional models walked the runway to showcase the newest fashions for men, women and children from the mall's stores. 

There were also two exciting elements to the two-day event.  Same Sky jewelry had a trunk show of handmade jewelry made through its fair-trade initiative that offers employment to women living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa; details:

And on-air celebrities from WBTV wore looks created by Charlotte designers during a juried Design Wars event to benefit  The Sandbox, a Charlotte nonprofit that helps families whose children have cancer or life-altering illnesses.

Those two events were so special, I'll be posting the buzz and video from them later.

For now, here's the full video of one of the Simon Fashion Now runway shows (when you click below, there is a short ad, but the fashion show comes up after that):

Friday, October 25, 2013

Video obsessed

There's a big push at the Observer for us reporters to post more videos from the events we attend. We shoot them with our iPhones.

Mine can be hit or miss as I navigate this new journalistic frontier, but I'm finding that it's a lot of fun, especially shooting video at  fashion shows.

Here's a sneak peek from my upcoming video taken at the recent Simon Fashion Now, a big fashion event at SouthPark mall. I'll have more photos and a proper, longer video next week:

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I love learning new things, especially if it means I can add a fun new word to my lexicon.

That's why I got a big kick out of a press release from Dermatology, Laser & Vein Specialists of the Carolinas announcing it's annual “Boo-Tox” Bash that starts at 9 a.m. on Oct. 29 at 1918 Randolph Road. It includes discounts Botox and other non-surgical procedures and injectables including Latisse, Elastaderm eye cream and CoolSculpting. (Details: 704-375-6766;

In the spirit of the event, the office will decorated for Halloween and the staff will be in costumes.

The statement also included stats on how Botox injections have become increasingly popular in the U.S. It says that more than 6.1 million Botox injections were performed in doctor's offices last year, and men are becoming a growing part of that number.

When men have Botox injected, it's called Bro-tox. I think that's a hilarious new word. I'm not sure when I'll ever use it in casual conversation, but if someone else does I'll know what they're talking about.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, October 21, 2013

A brief look at BRIEF

Dan Mauney is one BUSY man.

He recently opened BRIEF, a men's underwear boutique, and will soon open SHU, a women's shoe store.

On Oct. 22, he's hosting a "STRONG is the NEW Black" bootcamp led by certified trainer and health coach Petro Martynyuk. (Petro's photo is above.) The free class starts at 8 a.m. at the new event space FLEX, 1426 S. Tryon St., where BRIEF and SHU are located. The bootcamp lasts an hour and all fitness levels are welcome. A few spots are still available. Registration:

On Nov. 1, Dan is putting together his annual signature fundraiser, Brief, which features 24 male models showcasing the newest styles in men's underwear during a runway show. Proceeds benefit Time Out Youth and the Human Rights Coalition of North Carolina. It's from 7 to 11 p.m. at Extravaganza Depot, 1610 N. Tryon St. Tickets: $35 (standing), $50 (seated), $125 (VIP). Tickets:

Here's a photo with Dan with models from his appearance on WCNC-TV's Charlotte Today show:

I  heard there's a chance that celebrity Brandi Glanville of Bravo TV's "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" fame might be at the fundraiser. She's supposed to sign copies of her book, "Drinking and Tweeting: And Other Brandi Blunders" that day at Shu. Here's her photo and the cover of her book:

The next night, on Nov. 2, Brandi will be headlining Haunted Hollywood, a Time Out Youth fundraiser starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St. Guests are asked to wear black tie attire or a costume inspired by classic Hollywood horror/thriller film. Admission is $65; VIP tickets are $250 and include a reception with Brandi. Tickets are available at the BRIEF store at the Time Out Youth office. Details:

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, October 18, 2013

A sweet Halloween treat

I was away on vacation last week, which made this week extra busy for me because I've been trying to catch up at work. That's why it was such a sweet treat to come home last night and find that my husband had gone ahead and put up all our Halloween decorations.

My favorite Halloween tableaux he created was mixing some retro plastic jack o' lanterns with three of my favorite photos from past Halloweens:

I love it when people get into the spirit of a holiday and I really enjoy looking at all the decorations. I thought about it and I realized our decorations tend to fall in the spooky/fun category rather than scary/gory. Both are fun, it's just a personal preference.

I know I fall in the first category because the world scares me enough lately - I don't have to try to scare myself. When I say Happy Halloween, I really mean it. I even like my ghost decorations to have jolly expressions.

Here's a Vine video of some of our retro/spooky/fun decor:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Southern Gothic" Halloween party

The Duke Mansion’s annual Halloween parties are tons of spooky fun. This year’s bash is at 7 p.m. Oct. 25.

The theme is “Southern Gothic” inspired by the novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” about a murder in a grand mansion in Savannah.

Come in a costume, or cocktail attire, and dance to music from the Bad Daddies while enjoying a wicked assortment of food prepared by the mansion’s Executive Chef Harrison Booth.

Along with a Grits Station, Carving Station and Dessert Station, the delectable hors d'oeuvres include Devils on Horseback (dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with gorgonzola cheese), Angels on Horseback (smoked scallops wrapped in sliced zuchinni with yuzu and wasabi), Deviled Eggs, Angelic Caviar Eggs, Devilish Pimento Cheese Biscuits, Angel Biscuits with local honey, Heavenly Carrot Soup Sips and Sinister Chicken Truffle Soup.

There’s also a silent auction including trips and jewelry. (Go to if you want to view the items beforehand).

Tickets are $75 ($25 tax-deductible) and are available in advance or at the door; proceeds go to the historic mansion’s preservation. Reservations: 704-714-4445.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Baubles and Bags Oct. 19

Looking for something cute to wear to your next fun function?

Julie Howard with the nonprofit Assistance League of Charlotte called recently to remind me about its annual Baubles and Bags event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Assistance League of Charlotte Thrift Shop, 3600 S. Tryon St.

Gently used designer handbags and accessories will be for sale. Proceeds go to Assistance League’s philanthropic programs including Operation Check Hunger, Operation School Bell, Mecklenburg County Teen Court and more.


Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, October 4, 2013

Jon Richardson's legacy honored at Oct 12 gala

Jon Richardson, the former Panthers executive and son of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson who died several months ago after a long battle with cancer, will be honored Oct. 12 during A Better World’s “Night of Memories” gala.

Those who knew him well describe him as a devout Christian with a big heart. A Better World’s free after-school program for children in need was one of his favorite charities. It helps keep children off the toughest streets of the Ashley Park and Westchester communities, and away from the negative influence of gangs.

“Jon was a huge supporter of A Better World, and his wife, Kathleen, and their daughter, Claire, will be there,” said gala liason Vena Vaughn in an email.

Held in the Panther’s Den at Bank of America Stadium, it includes a dinner, silent auction and live band.

If you’re interested in attending, tickets are $100 and you must RSVP by Oct. 7. Details: 704-398-3244, ext. 27; or email

To learn more about the good works of the nonprofit, go to

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My day with a 'Duck Dynasty' star

I'm a fan of the hit A&E reality TV show "Duck Dynasty" because it's one of the only shows that my husband and I watch together. It's one of the only shows that makes me laugh out loud (there's never a dull moment down in West Monroe, Louisiana, is there?) And it's the only show that leaves me feeling happy, happy, happy.

When season four premiered a month or so ago, it made cable TV history when more than 11 million viewers, including me, tuned in to watch the antics of the "Duck Dynasty" dudes Phil, Willie, Jase, Jep (also known as Miss Kay's favorite) and - hey! - Uncle Phil.

Viewers are also enthralled by the "Duck Dynasty" ladies. Miss Kay and her daughters-in-law Korie, Missy and Jessica are all so beautiful, smart and fun.

So when I was offered an interview with Jessica Robertson, and a chance to be on stage with her in person, I did my best Uncle Si impersonation and said, "It's on like Donkey Kong!"

I talked to her over the phone in advance of her appearance at the recent Southern Women's Show. During the show, I introduced her to the huge crowd of fans, and moderated a Q&A with her while she was on stage.

Along with watching her on "Duck Dynasty," I had seen Jessica on TV when she was a judge at this year's Miss USA pageant. She looked like the Queen of All Beauty Queens on the red carpet with the other judges including fellow reality TV star NeNe Leakes of "Real Housewives of Atlanta" fame.

When I interviewed Jessica over the phone several weeks ago, she was in New York City for Fashion Week to see her niece Sadie Robertson model gowns from Sadie's new prom dress line for Sherri Hill. I found Jessica to be very wise, kind and funny.

Here are photos of Jessica in New York. The first one is her with her husband, Jep (they have four children), and Uncle Si. The photo below is of Sadie, in a gown from her new line, with her mother Korie (top left) and Jessica (top right):

Here's the interview where Jessica discusses her beauty and style philosophies, her faith, the downside to being famous and what she really thought of NeNe Leakes:

When I met Jessica in person the day of her appearance at the Southern Women's Show, I was not disappointed. I've been in the business long enough to know that when you meet celebrities in person they can often look different than you expect - some better, some worse. Jessica looked exactly like she does on TV - stunningly beautiful. In fact, while we were on stage sitting side-by-side, I really had to focus on what I was doing because she truly is one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen. Her skin is flawless, her large blue eyes are exceptionally lovely and she radiates graciousness. I felt like a deer in the site of one of Jase's rifles.

I didn't think through that I wouldn't be able to shoot video of her while she was on stage since I was up there with her too. My media angel, Jennifer Wallin, helped me out by kindly offering to shoot clips of Jessica talking and email them to me. I did get some video footage before Jessica spoke, and afterward when she was signing autographs for a line of fans that seriously looked like it went on forever. There had to be at least 500 people. She was a trooper, but I truly felt sorry for her. Jessica had to be completely exhausted at the end.

Here's the video:

Jennifer Wallin took the only video clip I have of myself on stage. There was a cute little girl up front (which is why I'm bending over) who had a question for Jessica and I jumped protocol and went over to ask her what she wanted to know. Her question was about Godwin, who is one of my favorites on the show, so I loved hearing Jessica's answer.

Here's that clip:

There's no perfect job, whether you're on "Duck Dynasty" or a social editor. But my day with Jessica came pretty close. When you're around a woman of faith who's stylish, wise, funny and has her priorities in order, it really does make you feel happy, happy, happy.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Hale yes!

Hale yes is what I thought after reading a recent Harper’s Bazaar article about Denise Hale, known as the social empress of San Francisco.

The article has many interesting tidbits about her jet set lifestyle and the famous people she entertains regularly in her spectacular home.

What had me cheering were her thoughts on being a good party guest. Her rule is that guests must arrive on time, be interesting and engaging, and never discuss their problems.

That’s something we all need to be reminded of. Why? Because everyone has their own problems and a party is not the time to lay all your woes on others. Save that for intimate conversations with your closest friends and family.

The world is tough, and seems to be getting tougher. Parties are meant to be a fun and momentary escape, not a therapy session for what’s going wrong in your life.

If you need a momentary escape right now, here's the link to the article:

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, September 27, 2013

Support this Oct. 4 event

Charlotte Radiology Breast Center and the Charlotte Observer are joining forces on Oct. 4 to support breast cancer awareness, and you're invited to join in the fun.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Observer, 600 S. Tryon St., there will be food trucks, vendors, sports mascots plus free gift bags to the first 108 people. There's live entertainment from recording artist Nate Andrews and the band The Logic.

To really hit the point home about the importance of breast cancer education, the Observer's paper that day will be printed on pink paper.

From now through the day of the event, there's a really cute display of decorated bras in the Observer's lobby. To be honest, I thought it was going to be tacky but I really enjoyed the creativity behind the decorated bras. Some of them are works of art, others are clever or laugh-out-loud funny.

Here are photos of my two favorites (I picked two for obvious reasons!). The first one is even more pretty in person. The second one took me a moment to figure out (it has a "Hunger Games" inspired theme).

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Lindsay from Ace & TJ hosts fashion fundraiser

The Junior League of Charlotte just announced that radio personality Lindsay Gladden from the Ace & TJ Show will emcee the nonprofit's fourth annual "Lights! Camera! Fashion!" fundraiser on Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. at Belk at SouthPark mall. Also making an appearance is Tai Beauchamp of InStyle magazine. The event includes a silent auction (among the items are a week's stay at Litchfield Beach and US Open tickets), giveaways, food and drinks. 

All proceeds from ticket sales support the Junior League of Charlotte's mission of meeting the physical, dental and mental health needs of children ages 0-17 and their families in the Charlotte community. 

Lindsay didn't register on my radar until I saw photos of her from Ace & TJ's Second Chance Prom. Here's a photo of her with her on-air pals Ace & TJ at the fundraiser:

She stands out in a crowd because of her beauty, but she's also very accomplished.
According to a press release from the Junior League, Lindsay is a native of Concord, she majored in fashion design at East Carolina University and was on the school's dance team. After working in the corporate world for five years, she managed a spa and a boutique. She's been dancing with the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats for five years and is the newest member of Ace and TJ Show. 

Tickets are $50 each, or two for $90, and include entrance to the event, food and drinks and a $10 Belk gift card.  

VIP tickets are $95 each, or two for $170, and also include entrance to the event, food and drinks, and a VIP gift bag with a $20 Belk gift card. VIP ticket holders will also receive two Red Carpet Giveaway tickets, one ticket for the “Diamonds & Champagne” toast with a chance to win diamond earrings valued at more than $4,500, reserved seating for the fashion show, and a special VIP reception starting at 5 p.m. on October 13.

There are two different times for the runway show, so when ordering your tickets be sure to indicate which show you want to watch (one is at 6:30 p.m., the other is at 8 p.m.)


Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pamela Fiori at the Mint Museum Uptown Nov. 7

During The Art of Fashion, a recent fundraiser for the Mint Museum, I talked with Leslie Culbertson, the incoming president of the Mint Museum Auxiliary. She told me all about the auxiliary's Fall EnrichMINT program featuring one of my favorite media legends, Pamela Fiori, an author and former editor of Town & Country magazine. Here's Fiori's photo:

On Nov. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Mint Uptown, Fiori will talk about philanthropy along with her books about St. Barths, Capri and Palm Beach. A special fashion exhibit will showcase clothes that you might see in those locales that attract the rich and well dressed.

Tickets to Fiori's talk are $110, $100 for members.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Looking good at the Metropolitan

I was at the Metropolitan last night during its weekly METLIVE music on the Greenway concert series to take pictures of stylish people who caught my eye for the Observer Style section's monthly Street Scene feature, which will run in print and online Sept. 26. Until then, here are a few Vine video sneak peeks.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Model citizens

Doctors and lawyers can at times be on opposite sides of an issue, but often a common cause brings them together.
That will be the case on Oct. 1 when several physicians and attorneys from the Mecklenburg County Medical Society Women Physicians Section and Charlotte Women’s Bar will model clothes from Nordstrom as part of “Fighting for Women with Fashion” from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Foundation for the Carolinas, 220 N. Tryon St.

Proceeds go to Safe Alliance’s new Clyde and Ethel Dickson Domestic Violence Shelter. It hasn’t even been open a year, and this larger facility (it has 80 beds compared to 29 beds at the former shelter) is already operating at capacity.

Tickets are $75 through Sept. 24; $85 afterward. Details: 704-376-3688;

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Halloween costume ideas

The recent masquerade ball I attended was not only a fabulous party, it was filled with great costume ideas for the upcoming Halloween holiday.

For inspiration, check out the slideshow:

Also, here's a fun video that captures the party's fun atmosphere:

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, September 13, 2013

Power luncheon Sept. 19

This year’s Southern Women’s Show will be held at a new location, the Charlotte Convention Center uptown. When it opens on Sept. 19 for its four-day run, it will also host a separate event: the Women’s Inter-Cultural Exchange’s Multi-Cultural Conference.

Moira Quinn is emcee of the luncheon’s panel discussion that features Ann Caulkins of the Charlotte Observer, retired AT&T executive Patricia Diaz-Dennis and Debra Plousha Moore of Carolinas HealthCare System.

It’s from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; the $85 price includes one ticket to the Southern Women’s Show. Details:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Woof it up on Sept. 14

Animal lovers are invited to Woofstock, a groovy event that's a fundraiser for Great Dane Friends of Ruff Love and the Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue. It's from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 14 at Amos' South End, 1423 S. Tryon St. Guests will enjoy food, beverages, a silent auction and music.

There's also a chance to meet the pets available for adoption from the two rescue groups.

True to its hippie theme, the party's fun tagline is "Peace. Love. Drool."

Admission is $5.


Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, September 6, 2013

Six updates from Seventeen magazine

I enjoy it when I get to write about fashion, so I guess that's why one of my co-workers left a copy of the September issue of Seventeen magazine on my desk. I loved the magazine when I was younger, but I haven't looked at a copy in ages. I started to recycle it, then I thought maybe just for fun I would read it.

I didn't think there would be anything in there for me to learn from, I just wanted to enjoy reading a fashion and beauty magazine that didn't have endless articles about fighting wrinkles.

One article did have some info in that I thought would be fun to pass along. I think it's style advice that anyone of any age can learn from.

The article gave six tips for quickly updating your personal style. One was incredibly stupid, in my opinion, but the rest were good reminders to think differently about how little things you do to tweak your style can make a big fashion impact. Here are the magazine's tips:

1. Wear your bracelets stacked on top of the sleeve of your outerwear. Mix colors and metals for "an ultra-cool vibe."

2. Knot a belt over your jacket instead of buttoning it up.

3. Take a classic long sleeve shirt and make it more trendy by throwing it over a graphic print tee and only buttoning the very top button on the shirt.

4. Rest a jacket on your shoulders for a less bulky, more interesting way to bundle up.

5. When you wear a hoodie, tie the strings in a feminine bow instead of letting them hang loose.

6. This is the stupid one. The magazine says that a chunky necklace updates a dress, but don't hide it behind your hair - tuck strands under the necklace to show it off. (Although I do believe that when you're under 25 you should really experiment with your clothes, makeup and accessories, this just doesn't look right. If it doesn't look good on the model in the story, then usually it's not going to look good on the average person.)

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Art of Fashion Sept. 12

Neiman Marcus and the Mint Museum are joining fashionable forces to present the Art of Fashion, a Sept. 12 fundraiser at the SouthPark mall store that benefits the Mint Museum.

Special guest is Hal Rubenstein, editor of InStyle magazine. It includes a fashion show of the biggest trends for fall and winter.

Neiman Marcus knows how to host an event, so expect to have a lot of fun while soaking in what's new and cutting edge. It includes a fashion show of the biggest trends for fall and winter. There will be music by DJ Sami, beverages and light hors d'oeuvres.

The event is from 6:30 to 10 p.m.; the fashion show is at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $50 and all proceeds benefit the Mint Museum.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Joan Zimmerman honored Sept. 26

The nonprofit Dress for Success Charlotte will celebrate the success of its clients at the Ultimate Power Lunch, a fundraiser presented by Wells Fargo from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Fillmore Charlotte, 1000 Seaboard St.

It includes "Faces of Dress for Success" client fashion show sponsored by Belk and the presentation of the Paradigm Award sponsored by L'Oreal Paris that will be given to Joan Zimmerman of Southern Shows, a founding co-chair of the Dress for Success Charlotte Community Advisors.

Tickets are $50 each. Details: 704-525-7706;

Friday, August 30, 2013

Gala celebrates America

International House, which provides services to Charlotte’s growing international community, normally devotes its annual fundraiser to shining a spotlight on the culture of a different country. But in honor of the nonprofit’s 25th gala on Oct. 23, the theme hits closer to home. Titled “America the Beautiful,” it will showcase regional American cuisine, dancing and entertainment. 

"We thought it was time to celebrate the uniqueness and diversity of the United States," says Ally Yusuf, International House's marketing and communications director. 

Four hundred guests are expected to attend. Ernest Perry is the gala's honorary chair will be the live auctioneer, a job he's famous for, so come prepared to turn your wallet over to him. Among the items that guests are already excited about bidding on is a special piece of jewelry designed by Donal Haack Diamonds that ties in with the party's theme and will be unveiled during the evening.

All the proceeds go to the wide variety of services International House offers from language classes to diplomatic programs through the State Department that bring visiting professionals from other countries to Charlotte to see how their counterparts here do their jobs. 

The gala runs from 6:30 p.m. to midnight Oct. 23 at the Westin, 601 S. College St. Tickets are $150 per person. Details:

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Honoring the late, great President Wireman

Charlotte is thick with Queens University of Charlotte alumni, including me.

A big topic of conversation among us last week was the generosity of Sandra and Leon Levine and other donors who made our alma mater’s Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation a reality when it opened recently. We are all jealous it wasn’t there when we were at Queens!

Talking about Queens brings back many fond memories for those of us who had the pleasure of going to school there when the late Billy O. Wireman was president. (His photo is above). He was a real father figure to us all and we completely respected him, but he was also a lot of fun. He was so forward thinking, intelligent, charming and a great role model.

He has not been forgotten by his Queens family or business leaders in our community. That's why on Sept. 30, the college’s McColl School Alumni Association hosts its annual Billy O. Wireman Memorial Golf Tournament at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge. The $175 fee covers all fees including lunch, snacks and beverages. Details:

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vine videos spotlight stylish shoppers

This month for my Street Scene column, I decided to head to SouthPark mall one recent weeknight in search of stylish shoppers. The whole point of the column is to show what people are wearing when they're out and about. There's a slideshow at that has pictures of everyone I interviewed and details about what they're wearing.

Names that kept popping up over and over among the young people I took pictures of are American Apperal. When it comes to kicks, I was surprised that two brands that were popular when I was younger - Converse and Doc Martens - are still going strong. And the high/low trend is not going away: stylish people of all ages are mixing inexpensive pieces with a few investment purchases.

Here's Vine video of everyone who's featured in the slideshow:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Charlotte designer launches perfume line

I have seen many of Charlotte designer Luis Machicao's gorgeous clothes on the runway at charity fashion events, so I was curious when I received an invitation to a major announcement from his label on Aug. 22 at Blue restaurant uptown.

When I arrived, Luis was looking sharp as ever in a super stylish outfit surrounded by models wearing some of his beautiful creations. He also designs men's suits. Here's a photo of the models:

Among the guests was beloved WSOC-TV "Action 9" consumer reporter Don Griffin, a fan of Luis' line, who was there with his lovely wife Claudia celebrating the news.

And wow, what news it was: Luis is launching a perfume line that he created in France. He'll be debuting it there when he's part of Paris Fashion Week.

Here's a photo of Luis with the bottle for the Machicao femme line for women (he also has a homme line for men):

Here's video of the moment he announced the launch:

Luis was born in Peru, but trained in Paris, so he's almost giddy with excitement over returning to Paris to not only show his clothes, but launch another of his dreams that has come true.

It took a lot of hard work for him to get to this level, and I admire the way he dreams big. Congratulations, Luis!

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson