On Thursday, Oct. 13, at Wrightsville Manor (1952 Allens Ln.), Jess James, owner of Style Girl Vintage—a shop which James announced last week would relocate to Castle Street’s Antiques and Arts District—is hosting a 6th annual event, once known as Gatsby Gala. This year she has tagged it “The Deco Ball,” and it will include craft cocktails, live performances, hors d’oeuvre, and proceeds raised benefit Animal Avengers of NC. The nonprofit is volunteer run and helps find forever homes for rescue dogs. Founded in November 2014, Animal Avengers has saved and rehomed over 600 pups.
“We are a no-walls rescue which means all of our rescues are cared for in foster homes throughout Wilmington,” says one of their volunteers. “We constantly have new rescues coming in and always need volunteers, even if they can’t foster or adopt.”
All proceeds from the night’s silent auction will benefit Animal Avengers of NC. “We are planning on giving 10 percent of the ticket sales to the nonprofit, too,” James tells.
James is well-known for hosting 1920’s-inspired Gatsby-esque events. She has been throwing parties in honor of the era since 2010. This year she wanted to change things up and broaden it to incorporate the 30s.
“Making it a deco ball opens the window up a little bit,” James explains. “This is definitely my favorite era—the whole art deco era as far as design and fashion and sort of celebrating that period of time [is] just really elegant.”
The event will feature bites provided by Eaton at Home and drinks by James’ husband Joel Finsel, who runs Astral Craft Cocktails. Live entertainment will be provided by Ryan Mulder Jazz Band, jazz singer Nnenne Terzian and a group of dancers from the Cape Fear Swing Club. James will utilize A Ribbon Runs Through It by Legare Simpson to craft a backdrop for folks to have their pictures made in front of by Bella Rose Photography.
“There is going to be a huge crescent moon created all out of lights and feathers,” James explains. “It’s going to be super dreamy and magical.”
The event will include a VIP cocktail hour on the lawn of Wrightsville Manor. “People that are coming to that will get a little taste of the Gatsby Lawn Party from last year,” James says, “because that’s the only time of the party that will be in the daylight.” Only 40 slots are available for VIP, with tickets including a plated dinner by Eaton at Home, and private entertainment from Nnenne as well as a burlesque dancer, plus cocktails.
“In the secluded part of the garden, there is a really big tree with all this Spanish moss,” James describes. “We are going to set up a really long table, so everyone can sit together. It will be dressed in beautiful linens, crochet, lace and silk.”
The actual event takes place from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., again featuring entertainment from the burlesque dancer and Nnenne Terzian and her band. James expects attendees to come dressed to the nines and have fun with their outfits—to find a deco flare that most clearly speaks to them.
“[Consider] a favorite TV show or a book from that era—a certain character to inspire your look, [like] Lady Mary from ‘Downton Abbey,’ or Daisy from ‘The Great Gatsby,’ or if you’re that guy who loves ‘Peaky Blinders,’ you could come dressed as Tommy.”
Overall, the event is formal. James recommends black tie attire with garments or accessories that reflect the era. Toward the end of the evening, one man and one woman will be chosen as the winners of the best dressed contest.
At the end of the ball, the party will continue at nearby Grand Cru Food and Wine, which opened in Lumina Station in the old Dirty Martini location. VIP tickets are $100; $60 for general admission.