Style Girl Jess James’ fascination with 1920’s era fashion always has been somewhat of an obsession. From the vintage treasures of yore, she’s styled numerous looks for models decked out in everything from fringe and lace, to jewels and boas, which have graced local papers and even her own Fashion Fix newsletter (www.stylegirljessjames.com).
“The 1920’s has always been my favorite era,” James says. “I have a vintage collection for sale at Aqua Fedora at Lumina Station and aMuse, and have an extensive vintage collection in my personal wardrobe. Vintage style is a big part of who I am.”
Six years ago when she and Shannon Dunne (formerly of James + Dunne) hosted their first Jazz Age Fashion Show at Odessa (a swanky nightclub then located downtown), Jonathan Weiss, the owner of the City Club, reached out to her about continuing the party. Impressed by the impact of the event, Weiss asked James to host the next party at his own venue to tie in with City Club’s annual membership drive.
“Around that time, he had been considering a Roaring 20’s party for his wife’s 30th birthday, too,” James says, “but it never happened.”
And so the first City Club soiree embraced the Gatsby theme in 2010 and has continued every year since. As well, James has continued to brush up on her research of the era by traveling up and down the East Coast to attend other events of this ilk. “I attended the Jazz Age Lawn Party in New York City on Governor’s Island in June and the Gatsby Afternoon Picnic in Richmond, VA, in August for inspiration.”
The 2014 event is slated to take place Thursday, September 18, beginning at 6 p.m. at City Club. It will welcome attendees to come decked out in their 1920’s finery. In fact, there will be a best dressed contest for both men and women, with prizes including everything from art deco earrings from Chloe + Isabel, to one-hour in-home massages, to dinner for two from the City Club. James and presenting sponsor Patricia Kusek of Kusek Financial Group will be the judges. Gatsby models will sashay throughout the night, showcasing the best fashion of the era, with hair by Rockin’ Roller Salon, makeup by Amy Kennison and enchanted deco decor by Kickstand Events. Portraits in the garden by Artist Kat Christian will take place, and a photo booth with Bella Rose Photography will be onsite, too.
We interviewed James about the event and some of its newer offerings.
encore: Tell us what’s new this year?
Jess James: This is the first time ever we are hosting a VIP Cocktail Hour from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. General admission starts at 7 p.m. The most important change is that the City Club is offering VIP guests no initiation fee to become a member (typically the initiation fee is $1,500), so this event offers a major savings/incentive for anyone who has been considering joining the City Club.
This is also the first time we have Justin Lacy and his band play play; the first time to have Nnenne Terzian as our Jazz Chanteuse; the first time having Paige (instead of Porcelain) as our burlesque dancer/professional hula hooper; and the first time we are hosting an official after party (open to the public, no charge) at 10:30 p.m. immediately following the gala at The Blind Elephant speakeasy (21 N. Front St).
e: What’s the best part of this party, in your opinion?
JJ: The beauty of the era and our guests in such an enchanting setting. When you walk through the front gate of The City Club, it’s like going back in time. It’s 1925!
e: Would you say this fashion is still popular/relevant in the 2014 fall season?
JJ: Definitely. The Great Gatsby (and perhaps the gala itself) is at the tipping point. With the Baz Luhrmann film remake coming out last year, everyone is familiar with Gatsby, even if they have yet to read the book! It’s hit a mainstream stride since so many people are now hosting Gatsby-themed weddings and proms. So by now, everyone should have something to wear to the Gatsby Gala in their closet, right?
e: Tell me about the Make a Wish silent auction raffle you’re holding; what items can people win?
JJ: I got involved with Make a Wish several years back when they first launched in our community with the Wine, Women & Shoes event. Their director of philanthropy, Janis Netherland, brought me on board to market the event and style their fashion show.
It’s such a wonderful organization and a cause that pulls on everyone’s heartstrings. I just received an email from Stephanie Lanier thanking me for getting Make a Wish involved at the gala and informing me that her son, Oliver, is actually one of the wish recipients this December. Knowing the story behind each wish and getting a glimpse at these families’ lives really hits home. All monies raised in the silent auction items will benefit Make a Wish. Items include:
1) Feminine floating diamond 14k earrings $500 value from Lumina Gem.
2) $250 gift certificate from Strickland’s Window Coverings.
3) 3 personal training sessions $195 value from The Deetrain Personal Training Services.
4) Alba Necklace in Turquoise (Amy pick up) $119 value from Half United.
5) Gift Certificate for comprehensive eye exam $233 value from Atlantic Vision Center.
6) Sullivan Anlyan bunny gold leaf bunny painting $55 value (Sully is dropping off).
7) Live painting by Cammeron Batanides. She will be painting during the VIP hour a piece of work to capture the “essence” of the night. This live painting sponsored by Kusek Financial Group will be part of the silent auction for Make-a-Wish.
e: Will food and cocktails reflect the era, too?
JJ: Yes, including my favorite! St. Germain cocktails! Food will be catered by City Club of Wilmington. The Club’s favorite bartender, Greg, will be mixing custom drinks during the VIP Cocktail Hour.
4th annual Great Gatsby Gala
Thursday, September 18
23 S. 2nd Street
GA: $60 adv/$75 at door
VIP: $130 adv/$150 at door