Splendor in the Garden

Posted by Maryanne Salvat On February - 6 - 2014

Neiman Marcus and Fairchild CommitteeBy:  Mary Jo Almeida-Shore 

On a picture perfect, Miami “winter” day, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Visitor Center and Lakeside Marquee were transformed into a beautiful runway for a day of champagne, fashion and fun.  On January 23, Fairchild and Neiman Marcus Coral Gables paired up to host the third annual Splendor in the Garden fashion show and luncheon, which drew a crowd of more than 350 fashion-forward guests. The splendid day began promptly ​at10:30 a.m. with a champagne reception from Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne underneath the sunny Miami sky on the Mosaic of the Visitor Center, where guests could peruse beautiful jewelry on display from Piaget. The reception was so much fun that event organizers had a tough time getting them to move into the stunning tent at the Lakeside Marquee, where chairs and tables decorated with bright pink accoutrements were dotted around the elevated runway. Fairchild’s Director Carl Lewis made the opening remarks and spoke about how influential the chosen Philanthropy Honorees have been to the progress made in the Garden over the years and how many important contributions women have made since the Garden opened 75 years ago in 1938. He then introduced co-chairs Swanee DiMare and Frances Sevilla-Sacasa, who thanked all of the guests and sponsors for their support. Local 10 News Anchor Laurie Jennings, the event’s emcee, joined them on stage and mentioned how unique of a setting Miami is for an outdoor fashion show. Stephen Brunelle, VP and General Manager of Neiman Marcus Coral Gables, remarked how fortunate they were to get Ken Downing to host a fashion show at Fairchild for the third time in a row. Then, Neiman Marcus Senior Vice President and Fashion Director Ken Downing was invited to take the stage. 

Ken Downing first talked about why he keeps coming back to Fairchild – the crowd is always so receptive to his fashion presentations. He had just landed in Miami after traveling through a cold and rainy Europe, so he said he was going to “wholeheartedly enjoy the Florida weather.” Then, without further ado, he presented his show– “The Art of Fashion.” He spoke in detail about each look, before models walked down the runway in the latest trends: black and white ensembles, a return to clothing with a 70s vibe inspired by Mary Tyler Moore, (to the tune of the theme song from The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Ken’s take on the Garden of Eden with bold prints, and blush pink paired with shocking pink- to the “oooohs and aaaaahs” from the excited crowd. Guests who liked what they saw on the runway could purchase pieces in Neiman Marcus’s Backstage Boutique pop-up shop. 

Laurie Jennings then announced the 2014 Fairchild Philanthropy Honorees: Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard, Ana Codina Barlick, Trish Bell, Nora Bulnes, Pamela Cole, Margaret Eidson, Barbara Hevia, Phillis Oeters, and Suzanne Steinberg. The ladies were presented with a peony rose bouquet from Piaget and were escorted down the catwalk by Ken Downing as their contributions to the community were listed. 

As the winners of the raffle were announced – a shopping spree from Neiman Marcus and a special Mercedez-Benz experience package from Mercedez-Benz of Coral Gables & Cutler Bay – Le Basque served lunch with a whimsical dessert of tiramisu served in terracotta garden pots. 

Guests who wanted to take a special tram tour or walking tour of the Garden after the show were given the option of changing out of their heels and into colorful flip-flops provided by Fairchild. Altogether, it was a beautiful day for an outdoor fashion show and a stroll through the Garden.  The event was sponsored by Mercedez-Benz of Coral Gables & Cutler Bay, Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne, Piaget Bal Harbour, and Selecta magazine and benefitted Fairchild’s programs in conservation, science, education, and research.

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