ATLANTA — Explaining his decision to invite Jason Wu back a second time as guest designer for Jeffrey Fashion Cares, Jeffrey Kalinsky told the crowd of about 800 at the fashion show Monday night, “I thought Jason was the best. I loved his collection.”

Speaking later to WWD, Kalinsky said, “I’ve known Jason since he was about 25 [he’s 28 now], and we’ve been buying his collection for a while. It’s been nice to see his progression as a designer. He’s dotting every i and crossing every t now. Imagine him 20 years from now. He’s really able to do anything from sportswear to eveningwear.”

This story first appeared in the September 1, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Of the 59 looks in the fashion show, the last 11 were from Wu, with the rest by different designers carried in the Jeffrey stores in Atlanta and New York.

Wu, who gained fame as the designer of First Lady Michele Obama’s Inaugural Ball gown, described his designs as “feminine, sophisticated and timeless.”

A bit late for a preshow media event because of the weather, Wu smiled and said, “I survived the hurricane.” All the flights out of New York had been canceled because of Hurricane Irene, so he had to get a charter flight. “I wouldn’t miss [Fashion Cares] for the world,” he said.

Other guests at the event, which was held on the unfinished 32nd floor of the 12th & Midtown building, included Fred Schneider of the B52s; Cathleen Smith, who chaired the after-show “Fashion Luau” party at Opera, and Cynthia Bailey and NeNe Leakes from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Dennis Dean, head of one of Atlanta’s top catering and events companies, was honorary chair of Fashion Cares.

Schneider was a DJ at the after-show party. While he lives in New York, Schneider said he visits Atlanta often and will be back in October for a Canine Companions for Independence event with Smith. She started Violet Trust as part of CCI in memory of the late Tommy Lasorda Jr., who had wanted a dog named Violet. Schneider also said the B52s hope to celebrate their 35th anniversary next year by playing at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. “That would be my dream venue and, if not, then Radio City,” he said.

As for anniversaries, Jeffrey Fashion Cares celebrates its 20th next year. Said Kalinsky, “The only thing that would make it special for me is to raise more money then ever.” The event raised more than $600,000 in 2010 for the Susan B. Komen for the Cure Greater Atlanta affiliate and the Atlanta AIDS Fund. Kalinsky hopes to match that for the two charities this year.

Of that amount, Nordstrom, which owns 51 percent of the two Jeffrey stores, has been a $25,000 sponsor for the past six years, he said.

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