It wasn’t just the dads as honorees, but also a few moms and others who cut a fine figure in the community. This occurred during the annual Prix d’Elégance luncheon given by the Men and Women of Fashion for the “Best Dressed” awards.
Turning back the clock, the Men of Fashion organization formed in 1971 to honor select men for their fashion presence, style and community service. The initial honorees, those of 1971, were Judge R. Ainsworth Jr., Bob Carr, Bart Darby, James E. Fitzmorris Jr., Pete Fountain, Joe Glover, Mayor Moon Landrieu, John Mecom and Don Murray. Moving on, distaff recognition started in 1982, when the same criteria focused on 10 women. Seventeen years later, the Women of Fashion began. Current headliners for the two groups are Men of Fashion president Ray Seamon and board chair Lee Giorgio, and for Women of Fashion, president Tiffa Boutté and board chair Sandra Stage Chaisson. Forty people serve on the two boards.
For the Prix d’Elégance Program, Mark Romig stepped forward as master of ceremonies before the packed premises. Welcoming words followed. Further program notables were Lee Giorgio and Tiffa Boutté; Sandra Stage Chaisson, who chaired the Hilton Riverside-located luncheon; and Jenny Hamilton, executive director of the New Orleans Ballet Association, which along with the Ballet Resource and Volunteer Organization (BRAVO), received the luncheon’s proceeds. In addition to the looks was largesse.
More giving came from the top sponsors, the Haute Couture category. They were Dr. Byron C. Scott and Suzanne C. Scott, Sandra Stage Chaisson and Deborah Alciatore-Empey (the luncheon’s respective 2022 and 2019-2020 chairwomen), Dottie Belletto/NOCCI and Charlotte Bollinger, Joe Georgusis and Lee Giorgio, Palazzo Law Firm, Gerri and Murray Valene, and Pamela and Warner Williams.
Further program features were the presentation of the Presidents’ Choice award to Mayor LaToya Cantrell; a performance to Debussy’s “Les Papillons” by NOBA Center for Dance students; and a runway show by Jeff’s Haberdashery and Chatta Box Boutique with thanks, among others, to Jeff Chouest Jr. and Rebecca Nordgren. Both stores presented their Spring 2022 Collections to an appreciative audience that was hot to shop.
Lunch followed with a menu of arugula and spring greens salad, beef tenderloin and mango cheesecake. Special contributors were Barry and Dianne Breaux (Champagne), Giorgio (wine and bubbly), Dunn and Sonnier (centerpieces), Lee Michaels (raffle items) and Ellen Macomber (the live auction’s caftan). The silent auction donors numbered 58.
In addition to the above Alciatore-Empey, Dianne Breaux, Hamilton, the Scotts, the Valenes, and Giorgio, the luncheon’s committee chairs were Stephen Sonnier, Marilyn V. Dittmann, Carol V. Hall, Kathleen Mix Diamond, Laurie G. Guillaume, Melanie Cannatella, Teresa Guzzetta, Jamie Moreau, Kathy Singleton, Jacquee Carvin, and Sandra and Russ Herman.
And the honorees? The presentation was capped with the induction of a P & P twosome, Carl Panebiango and Suzanne L. Parker, into the Hall of Fame. The former was on the Best Dressed listing of 2008, while Parker was noted for 2001.
On the runway, they, as did the following, each took a turn on the elevated platform.
For the latest listing, the 10 Best Dressed Women were Laura F. Ashley, JoAnn Christopher, Karen Nabonne Coaxum, Lorraine K. Cucchiara, Kathleen Edmundson, Valarie Hart, Wendy Rodrigue Magnus, Danielle E. McAllister, Lena Torres Nunez and Dana Palazzo. Just before them, Dorothy “Dottie” Reese was so honored.
Their male counterparts were Roderick “Rico” Alvenida, John A. “Jay Batt Jr., Jason Giles, Carlos J. Hornbrook, Elliot Anthony Hutchinson, Todd Matherne, and a “doctor” brace in Ali Sadeghi and Salvador A. Sciacca. Making a family picture, and completing the list of 10 men, were Judge Kern A. Reese, husband of the above Dottie, and their son Justin A. Reese, for a father-son combo.
Jewish Children’s Regional Service (JCRS) hit a home run on a recent Sunday at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel during “Jewish Roots of Sports” to hail Jewish athletes and other such professionals. The gala co-commissioners were Barbara Kaplinsky, Carole Neff and Sue Singer — joined by husbands Mark, Dick and Harold — who, along with their committee teammates, welcomed a cheering crowd of more than 350 back after a hiatus of two years.
The bash, the 11th one, honored Gayle Baer, Ph.D., Alan Krilov, and Dr. Mark Sands (joined by Charisse), “who have all made a lasting impact on JCRS.” Recognized, too, was JCRS executive director emeritus Ned Goldberg — with wife Wendy and their children, Jodie and Adam — who was welcomed into the agency’s Hall of Fame. The starting lineup of speakers included Donna Orender, former professional basketball player and past president of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA); John Cohen, athletic director at Mississippi State University, whose father was raised in the original Jewish Children’s Home orphanage; and Craig Hersh, a former soccer player for US Maccabi teams and a JCRS “success story.” He received aid to attend Jewish summer camp and college through the agency while growing up outside of Houston.
Additional All-Stars participating on video were Gold Medal Olympian Kerri Strug; MLB Hall of Fame and All-Star Ken Griffey Jr.; and Dan Grunfeld, former pro basketball player and author of “By the Grace of the Game.”
Libations and dinner added more components. Sazerac Brands donated the drinks for the cocktail reception and the Sheraton chefs created a three-course dinner. Continuing the athletic theme, the centerpieces were silver trophies filled with fresh flowers from Federico’s Family Florist, and the auction followed suit. Sports memorabilia up for bidding included donations from TRISTAR Productions, Archie Manning, and others, along with unique sporting experiences and vacations. Raffle winner Karen Weissbecker-Remer copped the Tag Heuer Aquaracer donated by Chad Berg, president of Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry at Lakeside, and “weekender” leather bags, courtesy of Dillard’s.
Thanks were plentiful all around, especially to the Top Prize sponsors: Gayle Benson Automotive Family of Dealerships, the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust, Mrs. Betty Kohn, Angel Wings Foundation, Humana, Hancock Whitney Bank, and Sessions Fishman & Nathan LLC. Their funding will help JCRS, which impacts more than 1,800 youths across seven mid-South states each year.
More mastheaders were JCRS president Michael Goldblum with Brenda; past presidents Marc Beerman with Angela, Bruce Miller with Dr. Jane, Neil Kohlman with Hannah, Don Meltzer, Leon Rittenberg III, and Lisa Heller; JCRS executive director Mark Rubin with Andrea; Betty Kohn; and FAN-raising committee chair Barbara Greenberg.
Also, and all good sports, Susan and Howard Green, Karen and Leopold Sher, Ed and Elissa Bluth, Amanda and Fred Herman, Jill and Marc Winston, Diana and Chip Mann, Ana and Juan Gershanik, Debra Bressler, Bonnie and Harris Blackman, and Rabbis Daniel Sherman with Morgan, Deborah Silver, and Barry Weinstein with Linda. The final score: more than $200,000 raised for JCRS and its essential services.