The 230 guests at the Princess Diana, Dresses of Inspiration Legacy of Giving Gala March 10 — including six dress owners who had flown in from around the U.S. — were the first to enjoy a sneak preview of the exhibition of gowns on loan and memorabilia.
They converged on the von Liebig Art Center terrace for wines and hors d’oeuvres that included petite croques monsieur, Stilton cups, gravad lax canapes, hot onion puffs and lamb lollipops prepared by Tastebuds Custom Catering. Men in black tie and women in finery — a couple had donned tiaras and some the Bosom Buddies logo pins presented on arrival — chatted about trips to Princess Diana’s family estate, Althorp Castle, and viewing her nearby grave. Only a few had met her personally, but some had viewed other exhibitions both here and abroad.
When the exhibit rooms were opened, the partygoers poured inside to admire the once-upon-a-time, evocative scenarios of the life and times of the princess.
The group adjourned to the dining tent along a red carpet with the image of Diana projected upon it and again inside on the tent wall. Seating was at black-clothed square tables with pink napkins rolled to resemble the Bosom Buddies signature logo. Centerpiece glass vases held cabbage roses, which event planner Kimberly Speer Miller explained symbolized Diana’s home, Althorp gardens. The final dinner course was bread and butter pudding, the late princess’ favorite dessert. Guests received gift bags crafted by Jill Taylor of Sartorial Elegance that contained commemorative books and splits of wine.
The evening’s program included a “Royal Raffle” and live auction conducted by Mayor Bill Barnett and Stacey Deffenbaugh of NBC-2. A winning bid of $11,500 by Shari Graham, who owns two Diana dresses, and her husband, Bill Graham, former North Carolina gubernatorial candidate, assured them of a future dinner party to be orchestrated by Diana’s personal chef, Darren McGrady.
Event chair Sharon Treiser worked closely with Gina Marie Pugliese, art association assistant director. PNC Wealth Management was presenting sponsor.
Kessler has announced the net amount realized from ticket sales at $250 per person, auction and raffle income and sponsor support is more than $40,000. The gala and exhibition benefit the Naples Art Association, Bosom Buddies Breast Cancer Support and the NCH Mammogram Fund.
The exhibit of the late princess’ fashions is at the von Liebig Art Center, Tickets are $12 for nonmembers, $10 for members and pre-arranged group tours, and $5 for children younger than 10. Order tickets at 62-6517, ext. 101.