Opening Night at the New Joan Shepp

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Wednesday night Joan Shepp officially opened her new store at 1811 Chestnut Street. The trailblazing Shepp’s flagship store was on Walnut Street for nearly two decades before it was chased from Philadelphia’s Rodeo Drive by rising rents. Joan Shepp then headed for the posh Shops at Liberty Place; although it was very lovely, she yearned for a storefront with the glorious window displays that we’d all grown to love. She’s found that in the beautiful new 9,000-square-foot showroom she now calls home.

Joan and daughter Ellen Shepp attract a fashionable crowd to their store, which carries both men’s and women’s clothing, and houses an array of designer labels including Moschino, Balenciaga, Jil Sander,  Rick Owens and Phillip Lim. The crowd at the opening night party was just as eclectic and fabulous.  There were live models in the window facing Chestnut Street, and earlier in the night Mike Jerrick, and new co-host Alex Holley from Fox 29 modeled.

Food was provided by all the Starr restaurants, and over a 1,000 macarons were made by Parc restaurant’s pastry chef. Denise Fike created a mural of guests who attended the soiree, as models roamed the store’s three rooms and outdoor space with the latest fall collections.

Photos from Joan Shepp’s Opening Night after the jump »

PHOTOS: Dîner en Blanc 2014

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Dîner en Blanc was another magical night under the stars for which Philadelphians packed their own dinners (although some guests opted to order from Di Bruno Bros. or Garces and pick up their meals at the secret location), brought their own chairs and tables, and waited at pre-determined meeting places for the 6:30 p.m. phone call that would tell their dining leader where the event’s “secret” location would be. (The dining leader then led the group to the location which could be up to two miles away.)

Guests dressed in white to take part in the pop-up culinary event, the second-most-attended Dîner en Blanc in the U.S. behind New York City’s. This year, the event was held on the Avenue of The Arts, with City Hall as the backdrop for the thousands of photos that were taken by the record number of attendees.

Each year the event seems to grow: The first year 1,300 people attended; last year 2,500 people went; and this year 3,500 people went. The très chic picnic began in Paris 26 years ago and is now taking over 40 elegant public spaces around the world. It’s a great community-building event, bringing all walks of people together. This year two couples got engaged during the event.

More photos from Dîner en Blanc after the jump »

2014 Philadelphia Geek Awards

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Excitement reigned on the sidewalk outside The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University on Saturday night as the 4th Annual Philadelphia Geek Awards got underway. Guests, nominees, and presenters walked the red carpet and posed for photographers before heading into the museum to enjoy the the 90-minute cocktail reception held among the many fascinating exhibits in the museum including full sized dinosaurs, fossils, live butterflies and animal dioramas. Some 400 guests were dressed in “Geek Chic” and ready to party.

The Academy staff was also circulating with live snakes, owls, lizards, and bugs, and many people — including yours truly — took #Selfies to share with the world on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (#PhillyGeekAwards). Then the moment arrived when Geekadelphia co-founder Eric Smith and editor Mikey Ilagan opened up the ceremony with witty banter and gracious appreciation of the sold-out crowd.

Throughout the 90-minute ceremony, awards were given and the audience was entertained by the humor of the presenters and winners. Those geeks are smart and funny. The after-party was held at North Bowl, and was well attended. Many of the ladies told me they were excited to take off the heels and slip into some comfortable bowling shoes.

More photos and full list of winners from the 2014 Philly Geek Awards after the jump »

Philadelphia Magazine’s Best of Philly Bash 2014

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Philadelphia magazine’s Best of Philly Bash was held last night at Citizens Bank Park. The torrential rains didn’t put a damper on the annual party which celebrates the best of the best of Philadelphia, as selected annually in the August issue of the magazine.

Each year Philly Mag chooses interesting locations for their party. This year they held it on the 200 level corridor of Citizens Bank Park, transforming the venue into a day at the beach, complete with a boardwalk and sand. Besides the delicious food and spirits served, there were fun activities, including cornhole, Jenga, checkers, a baseball throw and dancing to the tunes of Speaker City. There were also tours of the stadium, including the trophy room, where the 2008 Phillies Championship trophy is kept.

To top off an already great night, there were fireworks!

Photos and video of the Best of Philly 2014 Party after the jump »

Mann Music Center’s Party in the Park Gala

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Wednesday night the Mann Music Center celebrated the 2014 Party in The Park Gala with musical entertainment from Diana Ross, who is on her “In The Name Of Love” tour. The evening started off with a welcoming cocktail party before the 650 guests were ushered into the dinner tent to enjoy a delicious meal prepared by Stephen Starr catering, as well as a short program. The highlight of the dinner was a tribute to outgoing board chairman Justin P. Klein. (Chris Bruner, managing partner, Ernst & Young, LLP Philadelphia, is the new board chairman as of March 1st.)

Then it was time for the Diana Ross’ concert. I photographed Miss Ross at Radio City Music Hall in 2009, where she allowed the press 45 seconds to capture her image; at the Mann that time was cut back to 0 seconds, but I was able to get a semi-bad cell phone shot. It was a shame, because she looks as beautiful and flawless as ever. Her concert was nearly 70 minutes long with no intermission, and included 5 outfit changes, (10 if you count when she would drop her big bird-feathered coats).

The best part: she had a matching fan for each of the outfits, turquoise, yellow, white, green and blue (not her signature red, though.) She was generous throughout the show and fanned her fans as well as her band. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t acknowledge she was in Philadelphia — sticking with the script — but she smiled a lot and thanked the fans in her Miss Ross way.

She opened with “I’m Coming Out” to a cheering crowd, the highlight of the night had to be her “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” that got even the people sitting in the front seats to stand and dance. She closed out the night with her anthem, adding her own touch to “I Will Survive,” and survive she has, 50 years after exploding onto the charts; Miss Ross is still going strong.

Mann Music Center’s Party in the Park Gala with Diana Ross »

Connor Barwin’s Make the World Better Foundation’s Ralph Brooks Park Fundraiser

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It was only a few weeks ago I was writing about Bud Selig’s visit to Philadelphia and his comments about the Phillies being the most philanthropic team in the MLB. The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t too shabby, either. There’s Brent Celek’s “Take Flight” Foundation for kids’ education, DeMeco Ryan’s Foundation supporting children’s healthy eating, and Todd Herremans Foundation, which raises money for various children’s charities in need.

Now Connor Barwin has started a foundation called the Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB is an acronym for his parents’ names: Margret Thomas and William Barwin). Friday night Barwin hosted a concert at Union Transfer to raise money for Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker Streets, a park in need of renovation that Barwin would pass on his bike rides to “work” from his Rittenhouse Square residence. Plans were already underway to revitalize the park; they just needed that extra push — including money to meet the goals set out by the organizations that were in place, including Urban Roots, the ACE Mentor Program, and the Philadelphia Water Department.

The major fundraiser to get them over the hurdle was held Friday night at Union Transfer where Connor Barwin hosted a VIP cocktail party were fans could meet their favorite players. Afterward there was a concert where Kurt Vile and the Violators, The Districts and The Tontons played to a sold-out crowd. The artists donated their services to the organization as did the music hall, along with all proceeds from the bar that evening. When the total is tallied, Connor Barwin is going to match it. In no time, the Ralph Brooks Park will be a safe place for kids to play again.

Connor Barwin’s Make The World Better Foundation’s Ralph Brooks Park Fundraiser »

Annual Rittenhouse Ball on the Square

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Last night, Rittenhouse Square held its annual Ball on the Square. Nearly 370 well-dressed guests attended. The dress was jackets for guys and gowns for women enduring the near summer heat and humidity for a good cause.

The annual celebration brings much-needed funds for the maintenance of the popular square; last night it was especially sweet as the Friends of Rittenhouse Square met their goal for the One Million Dollar Preservation Campaign. The campaign started under last year’s ball chairs Mary Parenti and Lynn Schecter, and was completed with the efforts of the 2014 ball chairs Janice Birenbaum and Nina Stanley and the ball committee.

Today, walking through the park you can see the improvements: increased lighting, security cameras, the restored and cleaned balustrade, and the illuminated guardhouse and lion. Next up: The restoration of the fountain.

Rittenhouse Ball on the Square »

Marc Vetri’s 9th Annual Great Chefs at Urban Outfitters

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More than 1,200 guests attended the 9th Annual Great Chefs Event on Tuesday, June 10th. The yearly eating party thrown by Philadelphia superchef Marc Vetri was held at Urban Outfitters in the Navy Yard, with proceeds going to help Alex’s Lemonade Stand eradicate childhood cancer, and to the Vetri Foundation for Children. Neuroblastoma took Alex Scott’s life when she was eight, and her parents, Jay and Liz Scott, carry on her goal of helping doctors find a cure for the disease.

The event attracts four dozen top chefs from the U.S. and Italy who created delicious dishes that people raved over all night long. The event featured a live auction that brought in $80,000 and a silent auction — which included clothing, lavish trips, sports tickets and experiences — that raised nearly $100,000.

Later that evening I headed over to Vetri’s restaurant on North Broad, Alla Spina, for the after-party. There I found many of the volunteer chefs, sponsors and ticketed guests enjoying a delicious spread by the Vetri Family, and friends including Sweet Box Bakery, Debragga meat, Nomad Pizza to name a few. Behind the turntables was The Roots’ Questlove, who appears at the after-party annually and packs the dance floor from start to finish. It’s always a highlight of the evening.

Marc Vetri’s 9th Annual Great Chefs at Urban Outfitters »

Project HOME 25th Anniversary Gala and Jon Bon Jovi Soul Homes Grand Opening

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Last night, Project HOME celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a gala event at the Marriott Downtown Philadelphia. Co-chairs Dorothy and David Binswanger, Pam Estadt and Ira Lubert, and Frannie and James Maguire were on hand to honor Leigh and John Middleton with the 2014 Golden Heart for their eight years of philanthropic work with Project HOME. (They have given more than $30 million to Project H.O.M.E. to fight homelessness.)

Earlier in the day, the Middletons were on hand for the grand opening of the JBJ Soul Homes with namesake Jon Bon Jovi. The 55-unit building, which will also have offices and retail spaces, opened in the Francisville neighborhood after about 18 months of construction. Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation provided the lead gift for the $20 million project in a partnership with Project H.O.M.E. When you enter the building there’s a quote from a Bon Jovi song — “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” — welcoming homeless and low-income residents.

Project HOME 25th Anniversary Gala and Jon Bon Jovi Soul Homes Grand Opening »

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