By D. Channing Muller Posted April 13, 2010, 10:58 AM EDT
Following the 2009 hurricane season that had a significant impact in Haiti, the Miami-based Tim Hardaway Foundation created a Haitian division to build a village in a storm-ravaged and abandoned area of the country. After the devastating earthquake in January that further destroyed the area, the foundation amped up its fund-raising efforts to expedite its relief projects with a cocktail party and fashion show from gown designer Gabriella Arango on Thursday night at the Biltmore Hotel.
“In the process of planning for the village, the earthquake came, so we had to put [our development] on hold and start dealing with that,” said foundation co-founder Paul Laroche. “It also renewed our commitment to work harder [to raise funds] as the situation went from just hurricanes to a doubly urgent need for relief.”
Nearly 240 people attended the island-themed party. Event producer Dan Hathcock, president of Unforgettable Events, used low floral arrangements and colorful Romero Britto sculptures on the tables and color-changing lighting to bring a tropical look to the property’s grand ballroom. The foundation sold three seating options for guests. A table for six at the end of the runway cost $1,500. Seats along the runway went for $250, and general admission tickets, $150, offered second-row seating along the runway for the show.
The Miami Symphony Orchestra performed throughout the cocktail reception in the outdoor courtyard. Other entertainment included roaming stilt walkers and exotic animal encounters from Simbad’s Birds and Pets.
Prior to the fashion show, African dance troupe La Fortuna Dance Company performed for guests on the runway. Arango showcased her collection of Italian couture gowns and ready-to-wear outfits. Reality TV stars Christy Rice, from Bravo’s new Miami Social Club, and Katrina Campins from the network’s similar series, Miami Social, walked in the show alongside professional models.
The night wrapped up with a dance party in the back of the ballroom with sounds from DJ Outrage.
Bacardi, Tiffany & Company, M.A.C., and Wal-Mart were among the event's 31 sponsors. Laroche estimates the benefit raised $27,000 that will be put toward the construction of the village in Haiti.