Arts / Museums

The 2024 Art Ball Was a Dazzling Ode to the DMA

Highlights Included an Unforgettable Neiman Marcus Photo Booth and a Bemelmans Bar-Inspired After Party

BY // 05.13.24
photography Tamytha Cameron, Nate Rehlander, and Rob Wythe

Anything goes. That is my usual response when posed with “What should I wear to Art Ball?” My inbox often finds a story from GQ, Town & Country, or InStyle with a variation of this type of story: “What is black tie appropriate today?” Old school Dallas affairs such as Crystal Charity Ball and the Sweetheart Ball call for long gowns for women and men in classic black tuxedos. Best not to stray too far out of those parameters. Museum events, however, given that they function to support creative institutions, have more nebulous attire guidelines. Thus, the Dallas Museum of Art’s Art Ball is always the site of inventive, exciting ensembles. But more of that in a moment.

This year’s co-chairs, Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld, chose the theme, Momentum, to describe the forward motion and evolution happening at the Dallas museum. Scanning the entrance’s tented interior (where the cocktail hour and after party occurred) one found black velvet drapes, latte-colored carpeting, and three crystal and bronze chandeliers. And given that the roof was clear, it provided for breathtaking views of the Dallas skyline. Perhaps the most popular “moment’ in the tent was the photo booth, which was designed to look like an elevator at Neiman Marcus (the evening’s presenting sponsor). Mechanical doors opened and closed so guests could script their own entry-making video.

After a dinner of caviar and lobster salad by Art 2 Catering in the DMA, it was on to the live auction. Packages received frenzied and boisterous bidding with the highest amount paid for a curated journey to Bogotá and Cartagena with The Eugene McDermott Director of the DMA, Agustín Arteaga. At the close of the live auction, dancers who looked plucked from the Jazz Age in vintage shimmering gold beckoned guests back into the tent for the afterparty. Magically the Todd Events team had transformed the space into an homage to the iconic Carlyle’s Bemelmans Bar. Works done in the style of artist Ludwig Bemelman of Dallas landmarks playfully dotted the space along with intimate tables ready for some tête-à-têtes. Most though found themselves on their feet dancing the remaining hours of the evening away to L.A.-based crooner Sergio Vellatti along with this six-piece band performing classics from the big-band era.

Kristin Hallam and other memorable moments from the DMA Art Ball 2024.
Kristin Hallam (top left) and other memorable moments from the DMA Art Ball 2024.

Back to the fashion. Too many divine frocks worn by gorgeous women and dashing gents in black tie or their variation on that uniform. A few of my favorites — Capera Ryan giving glamour vibes like a ’60s French pop star via a black and silver metallic dress with a pop of color via a fuchsia clutch. Melinda Knowles decided to go short for the evening with a cocktail-length blush pink Pamela Rouland dress. Neimans PR guru Marjon Zabihi Henderson seemingly doing a mashup of the “Capote’s Swans” and “Palm Royale” series with a La Double J one-shoulder printed sequin midi-dress with an Amina Muaddi bag and vibrant Manolos. Finally, the award for best guest who was channeling her inner Swan, Melissa Smrekar in a shocking chartreuse caped gown that looked plucked directly from Lee Radziwill’s wardrobe with a pair of Schiaparelli earrings and all pulled together in the mid-century lane via a pair of black opera length gloves.

Those spotted included Nancy and Jeremy Halbreich, Amber Griffin, Nancy CarlsonElaine and Neils AgatherGonzalo Bueno, Lucy and Tom Burns, Ceron, Grace Cook, Laura and Walter Elcock, JoJo and Eric Fleiss, Robert Hallam, Jr., Nardos Imam, Christina and Sal Jafar, Catalina Gonzalez Jorba and Santiago Jorba, Kasey and Todd Lemkin, Lynn McBee, Andrea and Vipin Nambiar, Adriana and Guillermo Perales, Deedie Rose, Ryan Ross, Capera Ryan, Alana and Adrian Sada, Peggy Sewell, Gowri and Alex Sharma, Amanda and Charlie Shufeldt, Emily Summers, and Sharon Young.

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