DALLAS – Reminiscence was in the air Wednesday evening at Neiman Marcus at NorthPark Center at the gala celebrating the mall’s 50-year relationship with its keystone tenant.
The fete was presented by Neiman’s and NorthPark, with all proceeds from sales of the $300 tickets benefiting youth art education programming at the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Karen Katz, chairman and chief executive officer, recalled shopping at NorthPark with her mother the year the center opened in 1965.
“We would arrive promptly at 10 a.m. and shop every store from the Carriage Shop to Neiman Marcus, lunch at the Mermaid [Bar], and as we say today, shop ’til we dropped ’til 4 p.m,” said Katz.
NorthPark has been Neiman’s top-performing unit for decades, added Katz, who managed the store from 1991 to 1996.
The shopping center’s unique, extensive display of 20th- and 21st-century artwork distinguishes it from every other complex in the world, she asserted.
“Recently, François-Henri Pinault, who is the ceo of the Kering group…came to Dallas for his very first visit and of course he came to tour the NorthPark shopping center,” she revealed. “He called it a ‘shopping museum.’ He was absolutely blown away by what he saw.”
The party, which drew about 300 guests, featured a lavish boho runway show of 50 looks styled by Ken Downing, Neiman’s senior vice president and fashion director. At Downing’s request, Los Angeles designer Devon Leigh supplied 400 pieces of bold semiprecious jewelry that he layered every which way on the models.
“One, I’m a huge fan of hers, and two, my mother loves Devon Leigh jewelry so I’m always sending it to my mother as gifts,” Downing explained. “The jewelry is big, it’s chunky, it’s visually arresting, and when you start to layer it together there’s just an amazing opulence to it.”
“A necklace on the back of a coat, a bracelet in the hair — I just think he’s so creative,” Leigh marveled after the show.
Most of the pieces were created in the past two weeks, she said, including a hammered bronze headpiece spiked with a mohawk of natural crystals.
“I can design in my sleep,” Leigh said in apparent sincerity. “I make all kinds of stuff – chandeliers, housewares, clothing.”
Guests included nonagenarian E.G. Hamilton, who earned a thunderous round of applause as the original architect of NorthPark, and the 104-year-old philanthropist Margaret McDermott, who joked that she came “just to see all the shoes.”
Also on the scene were NorthPark owners and operators Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger; Joanie Nasher; philanthropist Nancy Rogers, blogger and handbag designer Tina Craig; chef Dean Fearing; model agent Lisa Dawson, and senior Neiman’s executives Jim Gold, Gerald Barnes, Neva Hall, Wanda Gierhart and John Koryl.
Jacline Mazard, designer of Jean Mahie jewelry, flew in from the Bahamas to mark her 44-year exclusive relationship with Neiman’s. Stanley Marcus discovered her collection in Paris, she recalled, and insisted she bring it to NorthPark the following week.
“I came here and nothing happened,” Mazard said. “He went to the phone and in came Clint Murchison, Mimi Lay, the head of the national bank, and they bought almost everything, and I went, ‘Oh my God.’ Would I come back? I think so.”