May 22, 2016
BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
The award for the year’s most elegant instance of time travel goes to the Woman’s Board of the Alliance Française, dazzling guests on May 14 with Les Années Folles, a soigné recreation of Paris in the 1920s. Plumes of white feathers filled the ballroom at the glamorous Four Seasons, where stuffed peacocks peeked out of silent auction displays and a revolving Eiffel Tower offered up champagne and dazzled the benefit’s 400 guests. Stanley Paul played at a recreation of the nightclub La Couple following dinner and rare photos of Folies dancers, including the divine American Josephine Baker, filled screens everywhere.
Flapper headbands adorned with feathers were the accessory of choice that evening, recalling the headdresses of Mistinguett, the flower seller who went on to become the highest paid entertainer in Paris as a Folies Bergere star.
Woman’s Board President Laurie Bay, elegant in an emerald green ball gown, welcomed guests along with husband Jim, and introduced Honorary Chair Annie Ergas, Gala Chair Kristina Schneider, and Co-Chair Laurie Pasquier. Guests of Honor Vincent Floreauni, Consul General of France in Chicago and his wife Christine, and Herbert Quelle, Consul General of Germany in Chicago and his wife Corinna were introduced by Herve de Vauvre, President of the Board of Directors. Executive Director Jack McCordannounced that the Alliance’s educational outreach to the high school students of Chicago Public Schools would receive a portion of the evening’s profits. In this program, students attend after school French immersion classes at the Alliance. After two years, the highest achievers are given the opportunity to study in Paris or at Concordia Language Villages.
Christie’s Steve Zick had the whole room bidding on chateaux, villas on the Riviera, connoisseur wine dinners, a moonstone necklace, and the surprise live auction item, a chance to sail with the French team of the America’s Cup when they visit Chicago.
Guests captivated by the evening included Alyce Sigler and Stephen Kaplan, Bob Buford and Carla Miller, Janis and John Notz, Liz Stiffel, Miriam Bransfield, Laurie and Chris Nielsen, Anne and Paul Krauss, Alexandra Krauss and George Covington, Solange and Bill Brown, Nancy and Glen Traylor, Libby and David Horn, Jean Perkins and Leland Hutchinson, Joan and Bob Feitler, Mary and Rob Conrad, Richard Hoskins, Karen and Tom Howell, Gloria Groom and Joe Berton, Virginia and Norm Bobbins, Carol and Bill Vance, Lynn and Bill Hummer, Kay and Mike O’Malley, Martha Wolff and David Van Zanten, Lisa and Cary Malkin, Linda and Bob Glick, Kathy and John Cook, Mary Clare and Joe Starshak, Connie Frydenlund and John Covell, and Pam and Scott Marks.
The whole affair certainly proved Ernest Hemingway’s notion to be true that his Paris of the 1920s was a movable feast. Congratulations to the Alliance Française for keeping the spirit of that time and place alive in Chicago this spring.