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Scores of strands of pearls saw the light of day on Wednesday, April 18th. They accented the luncheon suits and dresses of the ladies who came out for the Jackson Symphony League’s Annual Spring Luncheon, which was held at The South, the expansive downtown event venue.
No wonder supporters of the Symphony arrived wearing brilliant smiles—Jackson woke that morning to riotous birdsong and day-glo spring green leaves set against bluebird skies, to which the torrents of rain that fell the day before had given way.
Beautiful and lively strains from the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra Woodwind Quintet greeted the guests, as did still and sparkling wines and mimosas. The Old and the New Guards were well represented among the 181 guests.
Among those attending: Mary Scott Shepherd, Nell Weiss, Jan Mounger, Flo Stover, Cora Jeanne Miller, Margo Lomax, Sharon Jernigan, Ann Rice, Bean Sulser, Melissa Malouf, Emily Dye, Susan Copeland, Faye McGriff, Lori Byrd, Lynda Wright, Joanne Lyell, Sue Lobrano, Rita Wray, Sister Dorothea, Carolyn Harris, Sister Trinitas, Theresa McMullin, Joyce Hart, Stacey Jordan, Patsy Malouf, Emily Dossett, Michelle Alexander, Virginia Carlton, Ellen Gully, Blair Hederman, Kim Pigott, Betsy Bradley and Amber Sukhbaatar.
Each year at this luncheon, the Symphony League provides an interesting program, and this year they knocked it out of the ballpark. Jennifer Boydston Johnson, chairwoman, and Tracy Szilasi, co-chair, along with the rest of the luncheon committee, created a memorable event, indeed.
Tracy and Ken Szilasi, proprietors of Maison Weiss, one of the preeminent ladies’ stores in Mississippi, brought to Jackson the 2012 spring collection of Lafayette 148 New York, the chic and sophisticated clothing line, as well as four executives of the company, who came from Dallas and Manhattan.
The ladies mingled prior to the fashion show. Michael Singer, the representative from Dallas, who is in charge of retail sales for the southern district, commented, “Mississippi women dress beautifully—they use great color. This is a stark contrast to New York, which is black-and-gray world.”
Singer nodded toward the tablet he held, “I’m taking photos for Lafayette 148’s memory book, and all of these gorgeous women, who are so beautifully dressed, will be an inspiration for us.”
The fashion show runway was set at floor level to emulate old-style fashion shows in New York and Paris. Chairs were arranged on three sides, and Jackson’s top-tier professional models sashayed to upbeat music.
This line is stunning, and it takes women from the beach to the bazaar to the boardroom to the ballroom. “Lafayette 148 has a very genuine passion to dress a woman,” said Annette Mathieu, the exuberant vice president of retail sales, who lives in New York City. “We are dedicated to exquisite construction and fit of all of our clothes, and to making our customer feel good everyday. We use the best and most luxurious fabrics from Italy.” One wonders how a woman who wears the best Italian fabrics could not feel good.
Highlights of the show, which was made up of neutral tones, as well as technicolor hues, included white pants paired with a thigh-length jacket with a purple and white scroll print; a linen A-line dress featuring a photographed aerial view of a beach resort on the isle of Capri; confections in the form of silk tunics with beautiful drape, movement and a symphony of color, reminiscent of an abstract painting; a stunning cream sand-washed silk dress with light brown color blocks, in a classic silhouette, with a matching sash or shawl.
One guest commented into the ear of another, “With all these beautiful clothes, we need to have more garden parties in Jackson.”
She is correct.
Those pieces which elicited oohs, ahs and applause were a flirty, bright yellow halter dress, featuring a generous full skirt—excellent for twirling or standing above breezy subway grates—modeled with a fabulous floppy white hat; a chichi white cotton dress with black details at the shoulders and waist and a jaw-dropping gorgeous vermilion halter evening gown with plunging back and train. Another knockout was a midnight blue satin gown with an organza overlay and an asymmetrical neckline.
Excitement rippled through the crowd.
A fun preview of bits of the 2012 fall collection was also included. Look forward to jackets that are practically architectural, in gray or black with exaggerated collars in bright colors; boldly colored sequined skirts and woolen dresses with combinations of earth tones and bright hues, arranged in compelling patterns.
Tracy Szilasi has been a buyer at Maison Weiss for the past 25 years. “Lafayette 148 New York and Maison Weiss have had a relationship since the line was just a baby. We used them early on as a blouse resource, and now we have a very special relationship with them,” she said.
Mathieu agreed, “Tracy has such a developed eye, and both Ken and Tracy are detail-oriented in terms of the lines they choose and in their customer service. Lafayette 148 is all about the details, too, and that’s one reason why we have such a strong partnership. Maison Weiss is a jewel,” she said.
Post-show, curtains separating the fashion show from the luncheon area were drawn back, and everyone made their way to a table. Each centerpiece was an arrangement of white hydrangeas and greenery with a stylized metal representation of a dressmaker’s form.
Wendy Putt, owner of Fresh Cut Catering and Floral, always delights. She served a yummy green salad as a starter. As an entrée, she offered Cajun chicken pasta with a divine cream white wine reduction sauce, with just the right amount of sherry, accompanied by caramelized green beans and an endive leaf filled with tomato salad. The two desserts were a lovely chocolate cake with raspberry glaze and a fluffy white chocolate mousse with homemade whipped topping with fresh berries.
Faira Bishop, outgoing president of the Mississippi Symphony League, who was dressed in a red Lafayette 148 New York ensemble, presented the league gavel to Lisa Rotolo, the incoming president, who will assume duties on July 1st. When Rotolo, also wearing Lafayette 148, took the gavel, she said, “I do,” joking about now being “married” to the Symphony League.
Past league presidents who attended were: Dean Alexander, Robin Browning, Jean Butler, Sally Carmichael, Susan Lawler, Jackie Root, Donna Russell, Bettye Sullivan, Ruth Tant, Nell Wall, Frances Pat Walton and Earline Raines. Perhaps all of them felt they were married to the league during their terms, as well.
Michael Beattie, president and executive director of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, explained to a luncheon companion that the Symphony League is an unusually strong organization for a community the size of Jackson. “They support us in all that we do, whether it’s a concert in the Delta or teaching children at public schools in Jackson how to play stringed instruments.
“The symphony does such diverse things—we play Beethoven, The Beatles, and with Cirque de Symphonie, we played on stage with acrobats and aerialists.”
Beattie said that the symphony regularly reaches four public school systems and three private schools through their string instruction, education concerts and school visits. “This school year, we have taught 1,200 students how to play stringed instruments. Studies have proven that a child’s brain changes when that child plays a musical instrument, and plays in tandem with others. Those changes in the brain then improve everything the child does in school.”
Pearls are in the form of our symphony and Mississippi Symphony League. Pearls are in the form of Maison Weiss and their relationship with Lafayette 148 New York. Pearls are in the form of all our city’s cultural supporters.
Jackson’s many pearls see the light of day, everyday.
The sponsors of the event were BKD CPAs and Advisors, Maison Weiss, the Law Offices of Richard C. Roberts III, Faira and Billy Bishop, Phyllis Barr, Dr. J. Derek White, DMD, Jennifer and Peder Johnson, Tellus Operating Group, Sarah J. Broom, M.D., Highland Village, Massage Envy, Nora Frances and Vaughan McRae, Sherry Partridge, Leigh and Todd Reeves and Margaret Boydston.