The click of cameras and clack of stilettos filled Tootsies on October 26 as the most fashionable women and men in Dallas gathered for the 2017 CultureMap Stylemaker Awards Reveal Party.
Themed "Defining Decades of Style," the fourth annual soiree celebrated style icons of the '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s — Twiggy, Cher, Prince, and Kate Moss. Party-goers dressed for the decade that spoke to their soul, while four different bars, "outfitted" with each of the four style icons, mixed signature cocktails from each decade.
This year’s finalists — Amber LaFrance, Rida Mandavia, Brad Pritchett, Deve Sanford, Yasmeen Tadia, and Molly Tuttle — showed off their styling skills by creating full looks with clothing and accessories from retailers at The Plaza, our Stylemaker Awards partner. Both looks, "red carpet ready" and, in keeping with the theme, "defining decade," were presented on mannequins throughout the store. To reach the finals, the contestants, nominated by the public, were voted through in an online poll.
Before the masses arrived, a panel of four judges assembled and visited each finalist's look, evaluating their use of Plaza retailers, creativity, and execution of the themes. The distinguished jury included Dallas fashion designer Nardos Imam, reality TV personality and entrepreneur Catherine Lowe, philanthropist and executive Lynn McBee, and 2016 Stylemaker Awards readers' choice winner Chris Hite.
Once inside, guests sampled bites from Plaza restaurants True Food Kitchen, Taco Diner, and Sprinkles while visiting checking out the finalists' work. They sipped their decade-themed cocktails featuring signature spirits (Gimlets and Gin Mules with Greenhouse Gin, Harvey Wallbangers with Tower Vodka, and Whiskey Sours with Black Feather Whiskey) and picked up swag bags filled with goodies from Plaza retailers.
Revelers tried makeup looks from different decades courtesy of Benefit Cosmetics — then hit the SmileBooth animated photo booth and style-revealing Truth Booth, shopped a Swoozie's pop-up shop, and purchased Partners Cards. For the first time, proceeds from the reveal party went to The Family Place's Partners Card program. All the while, DJ Blake Ward spun the hottest tunes through the decades — The Police, The Rolling Stones, Journey, even The Spice Girls.
Then, the big moment arrived. CultureMap Dallas Community Manager Lacy Ball introduced the finalists and announced the winners.
The 2017 Readers' Choice title, determined by public voting, went to Amber LaFrance, president and executive publicist for CultureHype, publisher/editor-in-chief of DFW Style Daily, and co-owner of Longhorn Ballroom.
The judges chose Deve Sanford, a fine art consultant, curator, and partner at Dbrand Distribution, as their ultimate Stylemaker. Both winners were whisked away for photo shoots, video interviews, and many congratulations from the crowd.
"I was so surprised to win Reader's Choice," said LaFrance, who was nominated by work colleagues. "The finalists this year were awesome. It's so much more than a style competition to me; it's a chance to celebrate everyone with a quirky sense of style like mine."
Sanford said she was not expecting to win, either.
"When I heard my name announcing that I had won the Style Challenge and was the judges' choice, I was completely shocked," she said. "My fellow Stylemakers really stepped up to the plate and had such amazing, creative looks."
For her "defining decade" look, she chose the '70s because "it was a time period of complete freedom of expression and personal empowerment," she said. "The women's tuxedo, first designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1966, really emerged and took off during this period and has become an iconic style that women continue to embrace even today."
To put her own touch to the styling of the Balmain tuxedo she found at Tootsies, she made her mannequin the ultimate Bond Girl. Her "red carpet" look was inspired by her own red carpet experiences, "my most recent one being at the opening of the Dallas Opera's 61st season last week," she said. "My mannequin wore a breathtaking, structural gown by Nardos and was on her way to see Madame Butterfly. She was all ready with her opera glasses, program, and was surrounded by beautiful Baccarat butterflies that I found at Bachendorf's."
Sanford added that the Stylemakers process helped shine a light on the broad, diverse definition of personal style.
"This entire experience really just reconfirmed my belief that style is truly timeless," she said. "It has nothing to do with trends and is purely a reflection of who you are."