On Friday, the house was featured for a record fifth time at the prestigious 10 Best Dressed Women of Dallas Luncheon at Neiman Marcus’ downtown flagship.
The retailer has underwritten the fund-raiser for 44 years for the Crystal Charity Ball, a high-society, all-women nonprofit that will disperse $6.5 million among eight children’s charities in April. Friday’s event will contribute $900,000 to that.
The anachronistically named luncheon is a cornerstone of the philanthropic social calendar that consistently attracts billionaires Gene Jones, Nancy Rogers, Nancy Dedman and Annette Simmons plus more than 500 other well-heeled women. Laura Bush has been a regular guest since she and former President George W. Bush retired to Dallas in 2009.
The 10 best dressed — Anita Arnold, Delilah Boyd, Lisa Cooley, Jennifer Dix, Tucker Enthoven, Cate Ford, Cara French, Amy Hegi, Kimberly Whitman and Piper Wyatt — were honored for their civic contributions along with Robyn Conlon, who moved into the charity’s “hall of fame,” and honorary chair Norma Hunt, who was one of the original 10 best dressed at the inaugural luncheon 45 years ago.
All 12 honorees plus the event chairs and a large number of guests wore de la Renta to the luncheon as well as to a pre-party the prior evening.
“I don’t think there’s anything like this anywhere,” observed Australian jeweler Margot McKinney, who styled all the honorees in her gems and accessorized herself in an opera-length Paraiba tourmaline necklace valued at $2.5 million.
De la Renta co-creative directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia were still recovering from the patron party at the Crespi Estate, a French mansion and formal gardens by architect Maurice Fatio that dates to 1938, not to mention their spring runway show in New York last week.
“It’s a whirlwind,” Garcia said. “It’s not easy, I’m not going to lie. But this is a high honor, so we couldn’t miss it.”
De la Renta has had a relationship with Neiman’s for more than 50 years, noted Alex Bolen, the brand’s president.
Neiman’s chairman and chief executive officer Geoffroy van Raemdonck told the audience that he’s acclimating well to Dallas. “I arrived here almost seven years ago and it has been an incredible move,” he said. The Belgian even claimed that he has adjusted to Dallas’ withering 100-degree summer temperatures.
“Last weekend when it turned to 80 degrees I decided that it was time to wear a cashmere sweater, and my little son looked at me and said, ‘Papa, tu es fou,’ papa is crazy,” he said.
Linda Custard, a philanthropist who has supported the Crystal Charity Ball for more than 50 years, wore a new Oscar suit which, she noted, she had purchased “right here on the second floor” at Neiman’s.
“Oscar dresses a very feminine woman, which I love,” Custard said. “I have Oscars from my mother that I can still wear.”
Garcia noted that the designers follow de la Renta’s abiding advice to listen and keep an open mind.
“For designers, leaving your ego at the door is very important,” Garcia said. “You have to be quite democratic and pay attention to everything that’s going on in the world. If you shut your doors, you become quite stagnant.”