Crystal Charity Ball 2022 brought Italian magnificence to Dallas' grandest gala.
Ball chairman Susan Farris chose the theme "Splendido Italiano" as a nod to her family heritage. She looked every bit the perfecto Italian hostess as she greeted guests, dressed in her vibrant blue and yellow "Capri" gown by Naeem Khan.
The annual black-tie gala, held Saturday, December 3, is the grand finale of the social season and benefits children's charities around the city.
For the milestone 70th year of Crystal Charity Ball, the Hilton Anatole Hotel's foyer and ballroom were filled with the sights, sounds, and tastes of Italy, thanks to Tom Addis Productions, Inc. and the efforts of the CCB committee. They included Mary Martha Pickens (silent auction chairman), Lindsay Ballota (children's book chairman), Kristina Whitcomb (underwriting chairman), Elizabeth Gambrell (foundations chairman), Wendy Messmann (special gifts chairman), Jennifer Dix (fashion show chairman), Suzy Gekiere (charity selection chairman), Laura Downing, and Amy Hegi (contribution ticket co-chairs). Angie Kadesky is the chairman-elect.
More than 1,500 guests arrived dressed in their dapper tuxedos and beautiful ballgowns (shades of Mediterranean-inspired blues and greens were popular). They strolled arm-in-arm down a stunning corridor with wisteria draping overhead and violinists serenading on both sides. Gondoliers opened the doors to the party.
The Instagram-worthy backdrops continued inside the lobby, where Italy's famous fountains, gardens, and villa vignettes were popular photo stops.
After having professional portraits made by John French Photography, guests grabbed glasses of wine and bubbly (Italian, of course) and noshed on antipasti, risotto balls, tortellini skewers, and the jumbo shrimp that CCB patrons know and love each year.
Up for grabs in the 2022 silent auction were dozens upon dozens of magnificent trips, fine jewelry, artwork, runway fashion experiences, one-of-a-kind accessories, and many more exquisite items. Bidders checked their phones all night to see if they were still in the running.
Across the room, patrons could try their luck in the casino, then redeem their winnings for home decor, children's toys, and gifts in La Piazza Italiano marketplace.
When it was time for the Chantilly Ballroom doors to open for dinner, attendees got a musical welcome, courtesy of a string ensemble and opera singers onstage (Italy being the birthplace of opera, of course). Magnificent floral centerpieces by The Garden Gate filled each table, and scenes from Italy adorned the walls around the room.
Patrons dined on a sumptuous multicourse dinner that started with Burrata Insalata with seasonal tomato, balsamic pearls, and pistachio. Main course was Filleto con Aragosta (filet and lobster) with farro risotto, grape tomato, maitake mushroom in a Kalamata caper demi-glace.
The final forte was the most photogenic dessert in memory, a Dolce Trio consisting of a gold-chocolate gondola filled with Italian cookies, plus limoncello mascarpone and hazelnut cremosa chocolate layered cake.
It didn't take long for the music to gear up again and for the dance floor to fill to the brim. The party band Simply Irresistible, whose beats ranged from disco to hip-hop, kept the room on its feet long after the last bites of dinner had been eaten.
Those with tired feet scooped up their party favors — a gorgeous Versace Butterfly Garden canape dish — and fueled up with hot Italian coffee for the chilly walk to the valet line.
Beneficiaries of this year's Crystal Charity Ball are The Agape Clinic; Baylor Oral Health Foundation; Behind Every Door; Educational First Steps; Family Compass; Hope Supply Co.; Southwestern Medical Foundation; United to Learn; and The Crystal Charity Ball 70th Anniversary Project, Action Before Crisis.