By Jenny Berg Posted September 27, 2011, 10:41 AM EDT
CHICAGO Models dressed as ballerinas lined the entrance to the Hudson on Friday night, and waiters between them doled out pink cocktails with matching straws. The Joffrey Ballet's Couture and Cocktails event stayed true to its name by offering open bars, a David Meister fashion show, and plenty of balletic influence. The event raised $250,000 for the company's programs and performances.
Co-chairs Rebecca Besser and Kristina McGrath worked with Joffrey staffers to plan the function, which took place in a raw space for the first time this year. Past iterations of the fall soiree have been held at the Palmer House Hilton and the W Chicago City Center. But in the spring, the ballet company's executive director Christopher Clinton Conway attended a private event at the Hudson and set his sights on bringing the function to the brand-new venue. According to Joffrey staffers, hosting the event at the freshly opened space created significant buzz, which helped lure 550 guests.
Without the built-in amenities of a hotel setting, planners had to make provisions for everything from air circulation to power. Vendors including Frost and W. Andrew Holitik Designs readied the space for the evening, bringing in drapes, flowers, and plush lounge furniture—as well as disco balls and prop white peacocks—to help dress it up.
The event's after-party has become known for innovative snacks, and Entertaining Company aimed to uphold the tradition this year. Passed offerings on pink and white trays included candied bacon wrapped in phyllo dough. Servers pulled food carts through the after-party, offering everything from pomegranate-molasses chicken maki rolls to truffle-salted popcorn in paper sacks. A dessert cart was filled with pink and white treats, including white chocolate truffles dusted with pink sugar—or what the menu referred to as “tutu dust.”