Society / Featured Parties

Dallas’ New $1.3 Million Night — Rob Lowe, Sarah Ferguson and Heartthrob Visions: Inside UNICEF’s Red-Letter Evening

BY Billy Fong // 03.01.18
photography Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for UNICEF USA

Given the Dallas philanthropic landscape it’s often difficult for a new event to sprout and grow. That was not the case with the inaugural UNICEF Gala. Since my better-half was on-call that evening, I secured my personal Edward Scissorhands – the amazing Joshua Rossignol (owner of Rossi + King salon in the Design District and recent transplant from Aspen) to be my arm candy.

I have to say, invitations that call for a certain dress theme or color discombobulate my natural instincts when perusing my wardrobe arsenal. The UNICEF Gala requested ladies in red with men in hints of the bold color. I contemplated just showing up in my favorite black-tie ensemble of the moment (sans red) and either using the excuse (1) “I normally go “commando,” but tonight I have on red skivvies” or (2) “I drank quite a bit last night and just assumed my eyes would be blood-shot.” (One red ensemble that stole the show came by way of Filippo Tattoni-Marcozzi, who wore Etro — he is an ambassador for the brand — straight off the runway.)

We were thankful that pre-launch drinks were offered by Deborah and John Scott at their super fun pad. If you haven’t scored an invite, then fingers crossed that you will spend an evening at their Highland Park home which is equal parts a sophisticated London townhouse and an Austin Powers shagalicious set.

After a few cocktails our entire group went en-masse to the Ritz-Carlton for the evening’s festivities that were emceed by the stunning Brooke Burke-Charvet.

Co-Chairs Moll Anderson and Jan Miller Rich graciously greeted the sea of red attendees at the door. The event honored Rob and Sheryl Lowe with the Global Philanthropist Award for their work in raising awareness both locally and globally for women, education and children’s rights. The Kimberly-Clark Corporation received the Children First Award for their commitment to raising awareness and funds for UNICEF.

Auction packages featured a Nashville Experience that included seats at the 2018 CMA Awards, a Duke University “Behind the Scenes” Experience to tour the University’s world-renowned programs, a Blackberry Farm Getaway with a three-night stay at the award-winning farm, and a UNICEF Field Visit to learn more about lifesaving programs that are reaching the world’s most vulnerable children.

Rob Lowe and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, surprised guests by presenting special packages and taking over the role of auctioneer to help UNICEF USA raise more than $1.3 million.

I was bowled over witnessing the phenomenal performance by singer/songwriter Skylar Gray. I have to be honest and admit that prior to that night I had never heard of her … but then again each year I know fewer and fewer of the Grammy nominees (my knowledge of music seems to end post-Nirvana grunge era).

The more than 370 guests regaled in red included Nancy and Richard Rogers, Taylor Tomasi-Hill, Debra and John Scott, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, Joyce Goss, Kenny Goss, Logan Waller, Rajan Patel, Maxine Trowbridge, Brian Bolke and Faisal Halum, Michael McCreary and Gonzalo Bueno, Kameron Westcott and D’Andra Simmons.

Certain evenings call for awards to be presented and Jennifer Karol needs to be recognized for best ensemble: amazing Dior dress with a multitude of whimsical mouse rings (from Grange Hall) and best hair (I asked Joshua to choose the evening’s winner given his expertise in this area): Courtney Kerr, and to top-it-off (literally as hers was a top bun) she shared a charming story of being inspired by a friend’s 8-year old daughters up-do.

Heartthrob 101

Keeping with my personal high school era theme, I decided to resurrect my “lunch time poll” appropriated from the noir, anti-John Hughes flick Heathers. So, the question that was posed to party-goers was:

Rob Lowe (tonight’s UNICEF honoree) was many a young girl (and gay boys) heartthrob in high-school (and his image adorned many locker doors). Who was your teen-dream?

*Please note, I got A LOT of Jake from Sixteen Candles, who apparently would win hands down. Here are a few other responses…

Lynn McBee: Magnum P.I.’s Tom Selleck [to which I responded – the best ‘stache of all time]

Debra Scott: Omg. WHAM!  I thought George Michael was so hot and used to play their video’s over and over again. Crazy he dated a sweet Dallas boy for so long – who I just saw here tonight!

Capera Ryan (wearing one of my other fave outfits of the evening, vintage Halston): Dreams do come true since I was seated next to my teen-dream – Rob Lowe!

Maxine Trowbridge: I have two … pin-ups [as she laughed in that only the Brits can do oh-so charming way] – both gorgeous in the ’80s. Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet and John Taylor of Duran Duran.

Jennifer Karol: Patrick Swayze. Who wasn’t crazy for him after the sexy dance scenes in Dirty Dancing and his bad-boy looks.

Barbara Buzzell: My teenage heartthrob was actually a duo— actors Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Posters on the wall. Every girl — including me — wanted to be sitting on Paul Newman’s bicycle handlebars in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” playing.

Michelle Walker: Johnny Depp (this was her response that evening, but the next morning some texts came through and she began to swing towards Leonardo DiCaprio).

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