It was no wonder the Common Ground Gala was a sell-out at the Four Seasons on March 23rd! Who wouldn’t want to rub shoulders – or even be in the same room – with the legendary Earvin “Magic” Johnson and rapper-turned-actor-turned-author Common (aka Lonnie Rashid Lynn)? I was so excited to be covering this major event for my Watch312.com show “Candid Candace Chicago” but was a bit surprised that there wasn’t more press in attendance for the VIP red carpet portion of the event. Mind you, I’m not complaining and in reality, this was reserved for the night’s honorees so I know they wanted to keep this portion of the evening manageable. I was also surprised to see Magic Johnson not only arrive on time for the red carpet interviews but to arrive FIVE MINUTES EARLY! No wonder this guy is such a success: Besides being a Hall of Fame basketball player and able to play every single position on the court, his business acumen is legendary. Presented by Coca-Cola, this third annual event honored Magic, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas, Quintin and Diane Primo and Tim Rand and Everett Rand and raised over $350,000. This colorful and inspiring group of honorees was selected based on their service, impactful lives and unprecedented career success. Though honoree Gabby Douglas was unable to attend, she sent a video expressing how thrilled she was and concluded playfully with energetic footage of her family and friends doing the Harlem Shake. Emceed by ABC 7’s Cheryl Burton and actor Lamman Rucker, the event was exciting from beginning to end but perhaps the most breathtaking moment came when Magic raised more than $100,000 with a live auction package he donated in the first few minutes of the event. Cheryl Burton started off the bidding at $20K for seven floor seats to a Laker’s game, seven signed throwback jerseys and a private dinner with Magic. It sold three times for $90K with Magic adding another $10K for an even $100K donation! WOW, right? Honorees Quintin and Diane Primo and Tim Rand and Everett Rand graciously accepted their awards and pledged their support to the Common Ground Foundation’s Summer Youth Camp. They praised Common, highlighting his authenticity and commitment, noting how truly “uncommon” he is. Six teens from the Common Ground Foundation’s “Dreamers and Believers Mentoring Program” spoke movingly about how important and life changing the summer camp and year-round mentoring has been for each of them. All proceeds from the black tie event benefited Common’s non-profit organization, the Common Ground Foundation (CGF). Additional attendees included Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Jim Reynolds (Loop Capital), co-chairs Les Coney (Mesirow Financial) and Juanita Jordan (Vanoy Jordan Enterprises), red capet host Michelle Releford (NBC 5), Andre Johnson (Magic Johnson Enterprises), Melody Spann-Cooper (WVON), Andrea Zopp (CEO, Chicago Urban League), Nina and Bob Mariano, Jeanne Sparrow (co-host WCIU’s “You & Me This Morning”), Marc Brooks, Terri Mariano, Tamara Brown and Derek Dudley among many others. Guests also enjoyed a silent auction reception (with a highlight being an ALL-access trip to the Grammys), live performance by Chicago Soul Centric (featuring Aziza Lisa), dinner and dancing. The evening was followed by an after-party at the Hard Rock Hotel.
In order to pay homage to honorees that have achieved success all while impacting communities in a significant way, the Common Ground Foundation began hosting the gala in an effort to highlight the accomplishments of key influencers and help fund the organization. Last year’s event honored legendary and famous activist and actor Harry Belafonte as well as executive vice president of the Boeing Corporation James A. Bell, Chicago Bear and youth advocate Israel Idonije and CEO and founder of MillionDollar$cholar Derrius Quarles. “I started the Common Ground Foundation because I wanted to help, most of all to help people help themselves. I always believed if we started with the youth, then we would be planting the seeds for our future to blossom,” says Common. Love this guy! To learn more about this incredible organization, please click here! To see ALL of the fun from this wonderful night, please watch my video below! Magic and Common give some great advice to Chicago’s youth and Magic tells us just what he thinks about Chicago so let me take YOU to the party!
Beloved designer Elda de la Rosa presented her 2013 Spring collection, titled “La Vie en Rose,” on March 19th in the Avenues Ballroom of the beautiful Peninsula Hotel. Elda had been working hard for months getting her beautiful designs
ready for the runway and her hard work paid off as the SRO crowd oohed and aahed for every model who sashayed down the salon-style runway. Produced by ZZAZZ Productions’ Tracy Tarantino, the event’s host committee included Jean Antoniou, Toni Canada, Diana Palomar, Dusty Stemer, Tracy, Tasia June Travlos, Moira Tuffy and
Marsha Brenner. Elda’s honorary committee included many politicos including Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Senator Heather Steans, State Rep Kelly Cassidy, Aldermen Patrick O’Connor and Harry Osterman and Committeewoman Carol Ronen. ABC 7’s Sylvia Perez, a longtime friend of Elda’s, served as emcee wearing a stunning blue Elda gown. I was thrilled to be a model along with Greg Hyder, Jean Antoniou, Diana Palomar, Patricia Gillman,
Moira Tuffy, Nancy Meyerson, Kathy
Burke and Minister Blaine Moulton. The evening began with a silent auction and reception in the Grant Park Room. At 8 p.m., the show began in the ballroom with Sylvia welcoming the crowd. She introduced Chanel style consultant Randolph Tovar who talked about his fashion inspirations and how style influences us. Then, the lights dimmed and the classic French song by Edith Piaf, “La Vie en Rose,” began to play. Sylvia repeated a line from the song, “When he takes me in his arms and speaks softly to me, I see life in rosy hues, he tells me
words of love, words of every day and, in them, I become something.” She went on to say, “A woman who wears Elda de la Rosa does indeed ‘become
something,’ something very special, gorgeous, beautiful and radiant.” And then the show began! Every woman was a star as she glided down the runway in her Elda creation. The finale was the gorgeous wedding gown worn by Jordan Stemer at her recent nuptials. All of the proceeds from the event benefited the programs and work of the Edgewater Development Corp., an organization dedicated to working with Chicago’s small business entrepreneurs. Congrats again Elda on a beautiful collection! (Photos by Caitlin Saville Collins and David Stephens...view more here!)
The Greek America Foundation presented its second annual Blue Masque Ball, a fundraising event to benefit charities in debt-stricken Greece, at the Blackstone Hotel on March 16th. This year's honorary chairs were Emmy Award-winning journalist Tom Negovan and his wife, Splash editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, Susanna Negovan. The couple brought years of support to local charities of the Greek America Foundation and Susanna was excited to support and honor her Greek heritage. The entire ballroom was transformed into a casino gaming floor with blackjack, craps and roulette tables dotting the room. All proceeds from the ball, which brought together the best of traditional Greek Mardi Gras celebrations in Casino Royale style, benefited Project Hope for Greece. This is a new initiative launched by the Greek America Foundation to support a wide range of accredited charity-driven institutions in Greece that are struggling to solve the problems of its people amidst the country’s worst economic crisis since World War II. Proceeds will be shared with various charities and organizations that have a proven track record of offering support to the country. Ellison Sunglasses CEO Aristotle Loumis served as the Young Professionals Chair. Celebrity guests included Constantine Maroulis of “American Idol” fame and now performing in the musical “Jekyll & Hyde”; Christos Garkinos of Decades and BravoTV’s new reality show “Dukes of Melrose” who was joined by Amanda Puck; Evangeline Goutelas of CITE Restaurant and Skyline Equities and Paula Fasseas of PAWS Chicago. DJ John Grammatis kept the lounge jumpin’ with nonstop music and dancing. Founded in 1997, the Greek America Foundation’s mission is to “promote, preserve and perpetuate Greek culture, history and heritage in North America.” For more info on this wonderful non-profit, please visit greekamerica.org. Congrats Susanna and Tom!
Giordano Dance Chicago celebrated its BIG 50th anniversary at the Harris Theater with a Gala Benefit (presented by the Boeing Company) on March 23rd. Pam Crutchfield served as honorary chair for this special event, with choreographer to the stars Liz Imperio serving as artistic chair. The benefit drew 275 people and raised $100,000 for GDC and their programs. VIP gala ticket holders began their evening with an intimate pre-show backstage Signature Experience, including an in-the-wings champagne toast while viewing the final last-minute on-stage dancer preparations, followed by a backstage buffet dinner and conversation with artistic director Nan Giordano, Crutchfield and Imperio. As a special treat, they also had the chance to be part of “Circle,” GDC’s inspirational pre-performance ritual, moments before the dancers took the stage. The performance featured the premiere of Imperio’s “La Belleza de Cuba” plus works from the GDC critically-acclaimed repertoire. Each work was preceded by video introductions, created by HMS Media from recent and archival GDC video and photos, providing historical content and illuminating the company’s extraordinary achievements. At 9:30 p.m., following the performance, gala attendees were escorted to the Pritzker Pavilion stage where they took in the dazzling view of Chicago’s Millennium Park nighttime skyline while mingling with GDC dancers and alum, enjoying an exquisite buffet catered by Cork Catering and Special Events and listening to live music by the George McRae Trio. “We knew this golden anniversary celebration was going to be special but on so many levels the results far exceeded our expectations,” says GDC artistic director Nan Giordano. “A lion’s share of the credit goes to our incredible benefit chairs and committee, who, along with our hardworking staff, selflessly poured their heart and soul into this event. We are extremely grateful to everyone who joined us for this evening, the memory of which is something I will remember and cherish forever. It was an incredible tribute to my late father, Gus Giordano, and all who have supported us throughout our 50 years.” GDC is one of the longest running professional dance companies in Chicago and one of the very few dance companies in the U.S. to have achieved this half-century milestone. This achievement was recognized on the cover of the March 2013 edition of Dance Magazine.
Televions star, model, actress and hometown girl Jenny McCarthy hosts the 6th Annual Rescue Our Angels event to support her nonprofit Generation Rescue, raise awareness of autism and generate funds to support families dealing with an autism diagnosis. McCarthy – whose son Evan has recovered from autism – is president of Generation Rescue and an advocate for children with autism and their families. The exclusive party will feature red carpet arrivals for VIP guests, remarks by McCarthy honoring Chicago couple Michele and Pete Doyle (founders of the event) and an “experience zone” – a hands-on way for guests to better understand the sensitivities that children on the autism spectrum experience. In addition to McCarthy, more than 400 VIP guests are expected to be in attendance, including Jacqueline and Chris Laurita (“Real Housewives of New Jersey”), Doug Clerget (“The Bachelorette”), Alexis Wineman (2013 People’s Choice Winner, Miss America), Colette Davis (open wheel driver), Heath Frisby (X Games snowmobile medalist) and Madi Wolf (singer). Tickets to the event are $100 per person and include hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, entertainment and access to a live auction of incredible prizes. A limited number of VIP booths are available for purchase, too. For tickets, visit rescueourangels.com or click here.
The Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual fundraising event, “Night Heist”, returns for its third year to the Modern Wing’s Griffin Court on April 26th from 8 to 11 p.m. Guests will enjoy exclusive after-hours access to the Art Institute’s major exhibition Picasso and Chicago – a celebration of the work of Picasso, his connections to the city and his enduring influence. Event includes live music, entertainment, themed cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. General admission tickets are $95 (price to increase after 4/19) and the VIP Night Heist Experience (includes a one-hour reception beginning at 7 p.m.) is $150. For tickets and more info, please click here!
Recently, Chris Brown, FloRida and Hennessy V.S put on a show at Dream nightclub in Miami, all to celebrate the birthday of super producer Cool, from Cool & Dre. Chris Brown hit the stage and performed a slew of his hits including, “Look At Me Now” and “No Bullsh*t.” The singer put on a complete show, showcasing his signature dance moves and even showing off his rock hard abs. Rapper FloRida also hit the stage to celebrate Cool's birthday and even helped lead the crowd in a “Happy Birthday” chant for the producer. Cool, huh? :) (Photos by Humberto Cruz...view more pics here!)
Chicago Vintage Market pioneer Sally Schwartz is thrilled to announce Randolph Street Market’s Modern Vintage Chicago spring installation will return to the West Loop’s Plumbers Hall (1340 W. Washington) on April 20th and 21st. Recognized as one of the top three vintage shows in the country, this bi-annual event comes just in time to add vintage flair to spring and summer wardrobes that will turn heads! Offering the best selection of jewelry, clothing and accessories vendors from across the Midwest, as well as Atlanta, NYC, Texas, Minneapolis and Philadelphia for men and women, this event is not to be missed! Among its 90+ vendors, new to the Market this year is the talented, Danielle Colby of “American Pickers” fame. Danielle will bring her vintage wares from her Wicker Park boutique, 4 Miles 2 Memphis, as well as perform with her burlesque troupe, Burlesque Le'Moustache. For more info, visit modernvintagechicago.com, call 312-666-1200 or email email@example.com.
The SPRING AWAKENING Fashion Show didn’t herald the advent of spring but it did provide a beautiful night inside the warm greenhouse at City Escape Garden Center & Design Studio in the West Loop recently. Hosted by Benjamin Cottrell and Shari Duffy, this event offered VIP guests the opportunity to stroll the gardens during the champagne reception, shop City Escapes’ unique gifts and listen to the sound of Miss Heart Illinois 2013, Marisa Buchheit. The show opened with a performance by the Candid Concert Opera Company as models strutted the runway in designs by Stix & Roses, LH Couture, Tres Haute Chic, Just Class Jewelry and StyleUp Girl Shoes. World renowned cellist Ian Makin serenaded the models down the garden inspired runway. A portion of the proceeds benefitted Chicago Gateway Green. TCW Magazine was the media sponsor. (Photos by Jun Nagano.)
Congratulations are in order for Joe’s Bar on Weed St. (940 W. Weed St) owner Ed Warm: His Chicago venue – known for hosting some of the biggest names in country music – has just been named Nightclub of the Year by the Academy of Country Music!!! Warm, whose keen ear for emerging talent has earned him immense respect within the Nashville music scene, is also taking home honors as Promoter of the Year. (This is the third time Joe’s has been named Nightclub of the Year but the first win for Warm as Promoter of the Year.) Huge congrats on these much deserved wins! (The 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 7th).
Talk about a dream job! ULTA Beauty Director of Public Relations Carrie Lannon and ULTA Beauty Director of Trend Development Molly Sloat partied with supermodel Naomi Campbell and Nigel Barker in New York during the filming of their hit show, “The Face.” (The finale episode was March 26th.) I sure hope to see this cool model driven show return soon! The show, hosted by Nigel Barker, followed three supermodel coaches (Coco Rocha, Karolina Kurkova and Naomi) as they competed with each other to find “the face” of ULTA Beauty. Carrie and Molly worked with Nigel, Naomi, Coco and Karolina and appeared on the final episode as they chose the winner of the show: Twenty-one-year-old Devyn Abdullah from Team Kurkova became the first Face of Ulta Beauty! She will appear in its ads, go to Fashion Week and make personal appearances in ULTA Beauty stores. Congrats to Devyn, Carrie and Molly! If you need an assistant, you know who to call!
And now for some exciting news from Palm Beach! The USPA Maserati 109th U.S. Open Polo Championship is a four-week, 26-goal tournament that will finalize its 10th Anniversary Season at the International Polo Club. The action began on March 31st and will continue on April 7th, 14th and 21st, showcasing the world’s most elite, high-goal players and the finest polo ponies. As one can imagine, the celebrity line-up is impressive and will include heartthrob Antonio Sabato, Jr., Emmy Award winner Liz Calloway, actress Ann Hampton Callaway, American Idol’s Brooke Eden and a perfect “10” Bo Derek. Country music star Lee Greenwood will perform “God Bless the USA” before the final match on April 21st. This high-goal polo action takes place every Sunday through April 21st, with tickets starting at $10 for general admission and up to $120 for box seating. Tickets for the lavish Sunday brunch at The Pavilion and its reception start at $65 going upward to $330 for the Veuve Clicquot brunch package for two. Tickets can be purchased online at InternationalPoloClub.com or by calling 561.204.5687. Anybody up for a few good chukkers? :)
The Puppy Mill Project is proud to be honoring the “Mothers in the Mills” at their annual fundraiser on May 11th at John Barleycorn River North (149 W. Kinzie) from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. The evening will raise awareness about the cruel and inhumane conditions that dogs endure in puppy mills. Chicago fan-favorite band, Out of Control, will perform, a buffet dinner will be served, and guests will enjoy a silent auction and live raffle. This benefit is held annually on Mother's Day weekend to honor and bring attention to all female (mother) dogs held captive in the mills who are forced to breed until they are no longer profitable to the breeder. The mission of TPMP is to educate the public about puppy mills, while advocating for legislative reform and facilitating the rescue of mill dogs. “The proceeds from the Mothers in The Mills benefit will educate and expose the truth about this cruel and inhumane industry that people are unknowingly supporting when purchasing pets through pet shops, the internet and newspaper ads,” says founder Cari Meyers. “We will never stop fighting for the freedom of the mill dogs.” I wish them the best of luck. Tickets are $100 per person ($125 at the door) and can be purchased here.
About Face Theatre celebrates its 17th year with a three-ring party of entertainment at the Wonka Ball 2013: Circus Maximus on April 26th beginning at 8 p.m. (For those interested, a Ringmaster’s VIP cocktail party begins at 7 p.m.) AFT’s premier fundraiser, hosted by About Face board members Benjamin Sprunger and Billy Lullo, combines the surprising delights of the Big Top with the inspired grandeur of this year’s venue, Architectural Artifacts (4325 N. Ravenswood). For tickets ($135) and more info, please visit aboutfacetheatre.com or call 773.784.8565.
Don’t miss “Hats Off to Girls We Love,” a tea and fashion presentation hosted by the dynamic Sarah Wood benefitting the Wood Family Foundation on April 27th at 2 p.m. at Neiman Marcus Northbrook. Author Cynthia Bardes will be a special guest. Tickets are $60 for adults and $30 for kids up to age 12. For more info, please click here or call 312-924-9234. (And I can’t WAIT to tell you what Sarah and Kerry are planning for August! OMG! They are both heroes at giving back! :)
Thanks so much to WGN-TV for having me on to discuss my FIVE top event picks for April! I won’t tell but hope you’ll watch it here! Thanks to my sweet friend Marissa Rudman for this clip – just love her!
Don’t miss the latest edition of A Perfect Event’s E-Mag - Debi Lilly has done it again assembling the best of the best to contribute to her beyond beautiful magazine! I’m so proud to have an article (“Things Our Mothers Taught Us”) included! This Mother’s Day feature offers words of wisdom from the mothers of comedian Tom Dreesen, philanthropist and football star Israel Idonije, television star/author/designer Nate Berkus, super chef Art Smith, shoe god Brian Atwood and media darling Val Warner. I’m not one bit surprised why these special people became who they are – it’s advice everyone can use! Congrats to contributors Amanda Puck, Eric Himel, Matt Savage, Rosemary Fanti, Ryan Beshel, Elaina Vazquez and Corey Amaro, among others. ALL great reads here (my article appears on pages 26 & 27)! And a special thanks to friend/artist Rosemary Fanti for this wonderful image of my mom Elsa Stott and me in South Beach where some of our best memories happened! She was my best friend. :) (Check out more pics here!)
And, last but not least, I was so thrilled to be interviewed on Vocalo/NPR radio by Shantell Jamison for her (ahem) “Wise Woman of the Week” segment...I know, I know. Hear it here, if you want!
Hope you all have spring in your hearts even if it isn’t here in reality and I hope you enjoy this week’s Candid Candace!
Love, as always,
P.S. Congrats to the Peninsula Chicago and Greg Hyder on the fabulous party held in honor of Conde Nast Traveler’s special April feature, “The Grand Tour of Asia.” As always, it was a perfect event! (Want to see more pics? Just click here!)