PICTURE-PERFECT PARTY
THE THEME MAY HAVE BEEN BLACK-AND-WHITE, BUT THINGS WERE ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY AT A RECENT KEN DOWNING-STYLED BASH.

Byline: Holly Haber

Chanel ski bunnies, a veiled woman with a tray of candy cigarettes and a handsome man in a muscle shirt handing out white Russian sno-cones. No, this isn’t a scene from a John Waters film. It describes the colorful crew on hand in January at a party at Neiman Marcus’s venerable downtown Dallas store and headquarters.
The occasion was a lavish bash that lured a campy crowd of 500. Socialites mixed with drag queens, and nearly everyone tippled Tanqueray No. 10 martinis and snarfed down sushi as fast as it could be rolled by chefs working a bar in the precious jewelry department.
Styled by Neiman’s impresario Ken Downing, vice president of corporate public relations and special events, the fete signaled a bright start to the New Year for the city’s fashion and interior design crowds. Members of the band Sugarbomb were also in attendance.
“It’s a melange of Billy Baldwin-meets-Van Day Truex, with a lot of Truman Capote thrown in,” said Downing, with characteristic verve. “We really took a note from Truman Capote’s guest list and decided to mix it up.”
Downing chose a black-and-white theme, as a tribute to PaperCity magazine and its debut of an 82-page paperback book of snapshots from Dallas’s biggest parties of 2001. PaperCity, a free monthly glossy broadsheet, proffers home, fashion and restaurant news, along with a spate of party pics, delivered to the city’s most privileged residents.
Given the theme, many women opted for black dresses and pants (low slung with belts was the look of choice) or black-and-white prints. The men were more colorful, particularly the pair who paraded through the crowd toting graffiti handbags by Louis Vuitton.
Rifling through their goodie bags as they awaited their valet-parked cars, guests were happy to find them stocked with a Neiman Marcus geometric-printed toothbrush, Denblan French toothpaste, Agua soap and Alka Seltzer “Morning Relief.”

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