To view photos from this party, click here.
When you’re out for the evening, and your most disconcerting thought on etiquette questions whether it’s uncouth to put your black-cherry mojito down in close proximity to a $10,000 pair of Jimmy Choo boots, then chances are your night can’t get much better.
Yes, Gabby knows, you’ve all been to the Nordstrom by now. You’ve died a million deaths over the Robert Rodriguez and Tadashi Shoji collections. But if you weren’t at the Nordstrom pre-opening gala, you missed out on the 302 glitterati at its most fiercely daring, interesting and straight-up glam.
Before Gabby dishes about the soiree that was, in her superior judgment, the most stylish gathering of 2011—on a Wednesday night, no less—she has a question for the ladies: Where the heck have you been? Gabby gets more than an eyeful of gams and gowns on the regular, but never like this. You’ve seen one black cocktail dress, you’ve seen them all, so Gabby was floored to see some very fashionable women pull out all the stops. Backless, ruffled minis. Sky-high studded rocker-chick booties flawlessly mixed with dainty, diaphanous lilacs and pinks. Expertly draped bijoux (Wilmington councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz, I’m talking to you. I saw you with all those gorgeous baubles coiled around your neck.) A plumage of peacock accessories. Bodacious in-your-face floral printed silks. Every kind of silhouette you can imagine—no plain-Jane shift dresses that night.
The dudes were spot-on, too. Gabby spied your super-slim lapels, hip white dinner jackets, dashing ties and colorful, throwback hats (Paging Ebbie Alfree: Do you copy? Or are you still rooted to the floor, salivating over those Tods shoes?).
Dare Gabby say it? It’s teetering on her tongue like a pair of Louboutins fresh from the tissue, but … oh, heck. You all deserve it. It looked like Manhattan. Who better to comment than ex-Manhattanite-turned-fresh-princess-of-Bear, Lynette C. Townes—aka Mrs. DJ Jazzy Jeff? The stunning PR savant of Remix PR asked, “Who are all these fashionable women? I need a directory. I’m new to the area, and these women need to be my friends. Now.” Townes didn’t bring Jazz out—Gabby hears he was busy prepping for a European tour—but she did bring headmistress Chandra Anderson, the L.A.-born accessories guru behind Cha by Chandra, sporting one of her own fabulous headpieces. Next time you’re at Nordstrom, check out Townes’ and Andersons’ must-see collections: “Rag & Bone, Rebecca Taylor and DVF,” Townes said. “They’ve got some great looks up there in that section.”
The band did big things on the main concourse, and the spread did little things: Gabby’s favorite Callahan Catering options were the mini-fish tacos, mini-bottles of Coke, and the pièce de résistance: mini-Chipwich ice cream sandwiches on a stick. If they wouldn’t have melted, Gabby would have stuck five in her clutch for later. There was dancing, there was drinking, and by God, was there shopping, especially in women’s shoes, where the Big Four—Pete, Erik, Jamie and Blake Nordstrom—held court. Gabby lost count of how many shoes Wilmington’s Tom Resch sold to the giddy women surrounding him.
When Gabby was struck stupid by a hot pink Betsey Johnson mini, Springer teacher Dawn Camfield snapped her out of her trance by saying to her mother Donna Gregg that she wanted to bring her 5-year-old son to partake in the high-fashion for children. Now that is superb parenting. Camfield and Gregg were enjoying girls’ night out, as was Audrey Loew, who looked striking in a lime green and gold J. Crew Collection ensemble. “I haven’t had time to really look at the merchandise,” Loew said. “I’m too busy people-watching. I belong to [Hockessin Athletic Club] and I’ve seen tons of other members. I can’t help staring at how different they look out of their exercise clothes!”
The energy, the ambience, the luxe goodies gleaming from every surface: blame it all on Terisha Johnson, general manager. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here,” said the 11-year Nordstrom vet. “This is my first store opening.” With bold eye-shadow, chic short-cropped hair and a traffic-stopping electric blue Catherine Malandrino, Johnson personified Nordstrom. “We can’t wait to start connecting with Delaware,” she said. “This is a compelling area to shop. And tax-free doesn’t hurt.” You don’t have to tell us twice, lady.
If there was one thing Gabby learned from Nordstromania, it’s that style is ageless. Just ask Nancy Hebner, who wasn’t shy about her age in the least. “I’m an old lady,” she said. “But I’m having a ball.” And indeed she was: “My favorite part,” she said, “is the vodka tonics.” You go, sister.
Gabby’s final word: To the quartet of rowdy women who barefooted it out of the store around 10 p.m., champagne flutes and stilettos in hand, singing to Lady Gaga before jumping into a stretch Hummer: Gabby salutes you. That, my friends, is Wednesday night done right.
Page 2: Night at the Children’s Museum
To view photos from this party, click here.
Someone just turned 1 year old, Wilmington: your very own Delaware Children’s Museum in the heart of the Riverfront. Of course, this particular bash was adults-only, a party theme a certain blond bombshell by the name of Donna Halakos definitely enforced. It was difficult not to notice Halakos: Her purple fitted dress clung just right, and she had enough bling going on that Gabby can only imagine she came straight from the Nordstrom jewelry cases. Halakos was a dancing machine with friends Jess Romero, keeping it classic in black with some killer heels; and Jennifer Steiner, all corkscrew-curls and lovely in a one-shouldered white silk dress with a statement-making purple-and-pink orchid print from—where else?—Nordstrom.
Speaking of smashing: cue Rick Deadwyler Jr., please. As soon as the DCM board member walked through the doors, a chorus of “Aww look at Ricky!” went up from various ladies in the room. Deadwyler, who’s been on the DCM board for three years, was as giddy as a kid in a candy store. “To be here to get the doors open, and now being here, celebrating a fantastic one year—that makes me very proud, and very happy,” he said. “I’m a Wilmingtonian, born and raised, so I focus a lot of my philanthropic and volunteer work around kids. What better way to help than on this board?” Deadwyler gave props to the community for coming together and getting the doors open. “Considering the difficult times over the past year or so, seeing how the Delaware community—families, individuals, corporate and philanthropic—came together and were so gracious and engaged … that’s a real accomplishment,” he said. His M.O. for the evening? “I plan to play like a kid.”
The museum patio was transformed into a gala space well fitting of any posh soiree. Local designers, artists and boutique owners outdid themselves by designing oversized, fantastical party hats available for auction. Gabby flipped for the “Inspiration Board” party hat designed by Trolleywood fashion artist Dallas Shaw and shutterbug Laura Novak (who, by the by, looked pretty picture perfect herself in a fresh, springy pink frock, natural makeup and minimal accessories). High above partygoers’ heads hung a magnificent lighted chandelier that Gabby was shocked to find out was handmade out of wax paper by a group of very dedicated moms who make up Mothers of the Museum. One of them was Nichelle DeWitt, who was enjoying a mom’s night out while husband Khary took care of the kids. “It took about 900 wax paper circles,” DeWitt says. Talk about arts and crafts hour. DeWitt, proud owner of an annual membership, is at the museum almost every other weekend. DeWitt’s husband co-chairs Dads at the DCM with Lt. Gov. Matt Denn.
Denn was one of many politicos in the crowd. Sen. Chris Coons was never without someone to gab with: Gabby swears the man didn’t get a moment to himself the whole night. And Sen. Tom Carper was in the house, too, and really stole the show with his keynote address to the crowd. “This is the place,” he told Gabby, “where 140,000 kids, and their parents and grandparents are going to come through these doors. They’ll be excited about math, science and engineering. We need more scientists, chemists, biologists, engineers, and this is the place that’s going to get them engaged at ages 3, 4 and 5.”
There was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment at the gala, and committee member Erin Ford Sicuranza put it most aptly. “My children are kind of ‘Riverfront Rats,’” she said. “They’re always down here for something or another: the museum, walking, outdoor concerts, and they love it. As a Wilmington native who grew up in the city, I watched failed attempts at revitalization down here my whole live. For my kids to be able to come down here to see it in their lifetime … it’s phenomenal. It gives me chills to be a part of something like this. It’s just a miracle what they’ve been able to pull off.” … Till next time, stay fabulous.