Before the fall social season begins, let's take a look back at the most gorgeous gala of the year, Coveted Couture, the Mint Museum's annual spring fundraiser. Jay Everette, who co-chaired the event with his partner, Brian Speas, filled The O Report in on all the details that added up to a magical evening that guests are still talking about.
The event was designed to bring together the art museum's longtime members with new arts advocates to support the Mint’s mission and raise money for the museum's compelling exhibitions, educational programs and community outreach. The Mint Museum is the oldest public art museum in North Carolina and has a history of presenting art in innovative ways that engage the Charlotte region and increasingly a national, and even international, audience. The goal of Everette, Speas and their committee members was to raise a substantial amount of money. They succeeded. The evening netted more than $300,000. "We are excited about the impact that these funds will have in connecting art with diverse audiences in our community," Everette says. "The Mint welcomes over 150,000 annual visitors and that includes 16,000 school children. We want that connection and impact to continue and even increase.”
The Coveted Couture theme was as a nod to the Mint's amazing costume and fashion collection (it's the largest and most significant in the Southeast) which explores the intersection between fashion, art, textiles and design. Everette says that in the initial gala planning meeting, the team looked at couture images and selected a colorful Valentino fall/winter 2007 cocktail dress as a design inspiration and launching point for every creative element of the Gala experience, including the signature citrus orange and strawberry pink cake served as a dessert with the evening’s five course menu.
The tangerine, pink and fuchsia hues aligned with the desired fun, festive and fashion-forward tone of the event and evening. A creative partnership with Vueve Cliquot added marigold and orange to the color mix. This collective brightly-hued palette informed every other creative element of the fashion-forward evening. The edifice of the Mint Museum on Randolph even served a canvas for larger-than-life images from New York Fashion Week. “Since we were highlighting the fashion collection, we wanted guests to interact with the runway experience,” Everette says. “We found images from a fashion collection shown at New York fashion week that showed lush textiles, embroidery and materials in all the colors we were incorporating into the evening. It was a perfect alignment of color, form and fashion.”
One of the major focal points of the evening was a spectacular sailcloth tent with a wood plank floor where guests dined and danced the night away. "Brian and I were in Southampton, New York last summer for an event at the Parrish Art Museum," Everette says. "They had an incredible sailcloth tent that caught our eye. We thought it would be great to have at the gala because it's so beautiful and architectural. And the Mint Museum Randolph, where the gala was held, is in a park-like setting. We didn't want guests to fill contained in the space. We wanted them to feel that they were part of the outdoors, so the sides of the main tent were open."
The floral arrangements for the evening were extraordinary. Steve Taras, owner of Watered Garden Florist in Raleigh, visualized the complete design during a pre-event visit. The Van Every fountain at the front of the museum has been such a fixture at the Mint for so long that sometimes guests can overlook its beauty. He decided to punctuate the fountain as a visual element by surrounding it with flowers. He did the same thing with a large urn that's the centerpiece of the museum's rose garden by filling it with lush blooms. All the arrangements, from the enormous ones at the tent's entrance to delicate designs on the tables, were breathtaking. Taras was inspired by the tropical and spring colors in the invitation and Fashion Week graphics and he brought them to life with green cymbidium and magenta phalaenopsis orchids imported from Thailand, coral charm and red peonies, orange parrot tulips, orange poppies and sensation roses and yellow dubium and viburnum. Bar and cocktail tables were wrapped in boxwood and featured original art work by Herb Jackson whose contemporary works are included in the Mint’s permanent collection.
In remarks after dinner, Weston Andress, Chair of the Mint Museum Board of Trustees, announced 2017-18 as The Year of Fashion at the Mint. Everette, a former Chair of the Board of Trustees, announced that the upcoming spring 2018 blockbuster exhibition would be The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta, presented by Wells Fargo Private Bank and coming to the Mint Museum Randolph in spring of 2018.
No matter how gorgeous the surroundings are, it's the people who make a party and fulfill the purpose behind hosting such an elaborate event. The 400 guests were an exciting mix ranging from dedicated supporters of the Mint to those who are new to the museum and its mission. Everette adds, “The beauty of the evening was matched by the generosity of so many neighbors, friends and companies that came together to support the transformational power of arts education and engagement. We sincerely appreciate their support for such a worthy cause. Philanthropy is certainly in fashion in our city!”