The Eyes Had It!

Attire and Altruism

As master of ceremonies, Mark Romig opened the program for the recent Prix d’Elegance luncheon at the New Orleans Hilton Hotel, which honors Men of Fashion and Women of Fashion. They are chaired respectively by Leon L. Giorgio Jr. and Tiffa Boutte with Sandra Stage Chaisson as the Women president. Proceeds of the popular event go to The New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) and the Ballet Resource And Volunteer Organization (BRAVO). In memorium were George Raymond Seamon Jr., former Men of Fashion president, and Dr. Aysen Kutalp Young, Women of Fashion’s founding president. Several of her select wardrobe pieces were on display.

Top notables at this “50 Years” event included luncheon chair Kathy Pastorek and NOBA executive director Jenny Hamilton, along with representatives from the fashion show’s Jeff’s and Chatta Box, John and Renea Duck, Leo and Dana Palazzo, Gayle Benson, David Lee Adams, Nancy D’Amico, Gerri and Murray Valene, and committee chairmen Deborah Alciatore, Debbie Buchler, sisters Marilyn V. Dittmann and Carol V. Hall, Nicole Ferrier, Laurie Guimont Guillaume, Melanie Cannatella, Jacquee Carvin and Teresa Guzzetta (chair of BRAVO’s May 18 Danse de Jardin gala), LeeAnne Leopold, and Faith Peperone. Thanks tapped countless others, such as donors to the silent and live (Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry and the New Orleans Pelicans) auctions, table purchasers, and ballet staff.

Heralded as the 2022 Prix d’ Elegance award recipients were Women of Fashion Mariah Walton Bencik, Taryn Brown, Melissa Coleman, Valerie Grubb, Kim Hasney, Christine Javier, Rupa Jolly, Ruth Lawson, Sandra Lombana Lindquist and Anna Tusa, and Men of Fashion David Lee Adams, Mickal Adler, Craig Clark, Johnny L. Domiano Jr., Steven A. Friedman, Vincent Giardina, Dr. Andrew William Gottschalk, Thomas E. Loehn, Greg Rusovich and James Schoen. An honored foursome included Deborah Alciatore and John Duck, Hall of Fame; and Gayle Benson and Jeff Chouest Jr., Presidents’ Choice. The runway escorts for the above were former honorees, whose names ranged from Chad Berg to Brent Wood.

All enjoyed a lunch of wedge salad, braised short ribs and caramel crunch cheesecake; applauded the performance by NOBA Center for Dance students to music by Vivaldi; and issued congratulations galore to the Fashion flock.

Dress for Success

The New Orleans organization that bears that name held forth in substance and style at the Higgins Hotel for the 13th annual and sold-out Suits and Salads Luncheon. Headling the program from Dress for Success were board president Sara Martzolf, executive director Lori Byargeon, programs coordinator Tracee Dundas, Lynette Bates for the Volunteer of the Year presentation, 2023 Client of the Year Tasha Miller (bannered, “A Success Story”) and keynote speakers Shaneika Dabney-Henderson and Swin Cash. Aimée Gowland of ALG Style presented the Empowerment Fashion Show with ensembles from Angelique, BABE, Dress for Success New Orleans (with representation by Sonya Shorty Hill and Dedra Sherman), Monomin, and Pilot and Powell. Before the runway’s parade of models, Gowland addressed the audience saying “Your success is our success.”

As with all the fundraisers, the top names are those chairing the events. Smiling as the Suits and Salads co-chairs were Rena Jolly and Christa Schwartz. Angelique, Jones Walker and SUSCO were the Empowerment Sponsors.

In addition to president Sarah Martzolf, the board’s officers are Arie Roth Keller, Celeste P. McDonald, Colleen Snyder Filostrat and immediate past pres Nadine Brown. Twenty women serve as directors, starting alphabetically with Meaghan Ryan Bonavita (whose mom, Pam Ryan, figured among the luncheon’s many supporters) to Cherish van Mullem. Jennifer Greene, Juli Miller Hart, Clarice Kirkland, Diane M. Riche and Leigh M. Thorpe are members of the Advisory Board.

Dozens of features added to Success, namely the delicious pre-set tomato basil soup, grilled salmon Niçoise salad and flourless chocolate cake, the red roses and baby’s breath centerpieces, the 360 Photo Booth, the silent auction, the swag bags, balloon arches, and Josephine Estelle restaurant for the kickoff party.

Prescient Peering

For the 72nd annual Symposium of the New Orleans Academy of Ophthalmology, the title was “Into the Crystal Ball: Futures in Retina, Anterior Segment, and Uveitis.” The thematic invitation featured a blue iris, along with the symposium’s location, the Sheraton Hotel.

Each year, the President’s Wine and Cheese Reception offers pleasurable socializing. Many of the 2023 attendees flocked to the impressive charcuterie display as they sipped fine French wines. Meanwhile, the Levee Jazz Band stirred up the sounds.

Making rounds were academy president Dr. Brandon Davis with wife Tania, president-elect Dr. Anthony Mazzulla, treasurer/secretary Dr. Adham al Hariri, and speakers, all doctors, Christina Weng, Uday Devgan, Eugene de Juan, Naveen Roa, Meghan Berkenstock, Arsham Sheybani and Sunil Srivastava. Courtney Finkelstein is the NOAO executive director.

After the reception, the bonhomie moved into another phase. It was the annual Speakers Dinner at Galatoire’s.