GALA FOR GIVING

by NANCY BALDWIN / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

A PREMIER EVENT OF AUTUMN in Dallas is Kappa Kappa Gamma Tablescapes. Long known as a celebration of tabletop creativity, it also is a festival of giving.

Those who take part will not soon forget the experience. More than 1,200 guests, underwriters and sponsors attend a candlelight evening fête and a luncheon celebration with an honored speaker. Table upon table of gloriously decorated “dinnerscapes” adorn a room at the historical Dallas Country Club. Dallas’ foremost interior designers, floral providers and home furnishings boutiques bring creative ingenuity to each table. “It’s a great way to give back to the Dallas community,” says Kim Purnell, Kappa Tablescapes co-chair.

The 2019 event commemorated the 25-year anniversary of the occasion. Since its founding, the two-day Kappa Tablescapes has distributed almost $3 million in proceeds to more than 100 local beneficiaries. Recipients receiving contributions this year include The Magdalen House, Design Connect Create, Family Gateway, Austin Street Shelter, Wesley Rankin Community Center, Our Friends Place, For the Nations Refugee Outreach and ScholarShot.

“Beneficiaries are nominated by alumnae. Each applicant is researched and visited. The researcher fills out a report and makes a presentation to our philanthropy committee,” Purnell says.

Grant recipients are located in Dallas and represent a range of nonprofit classifications. Funds must be designated for a specific purpose.

“We try to categorize it—for children, homelessness, literacy, women, etc. The grant needs to be used for something tangible, not just for general funds,” says Purnell.

Sponsored by the Dallas Alumnae Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma, the gala is supported by more than 150 Kappa Association volunteers. Other 2019 co-chairs were Anne McPherson and Stacey Walker.

Participating Tablescape designers are handpicked by the event committee. Each prepares an imaginative, beautifully decorated dining table for 10, complete with linens, dinnerware, glassware, flatware and a striking centerpiece with floral arrangement.

“The theme is created by them. It’s great for them to do whatever they want,” Purnell says. Each attention-getting concept is distinctive. Motifs range from elegant, traditional china and crystal settings with stately, graceful centerpieces to offbeat, contemporary settings with remarkable table displays.

“We were trying to create a glamorous evening out,” says Larry Lott, owner of Larry Lott Interiors. Featuring elegant dinnerware and crystal from Christofle, Lott’s tablescape included black-and-white linens and a stately mirrored glass centerpiece with white orchids. “I just tried to represent them in the best way possible and be super elegant and tasteful,” he says.

Designer Glen Boudreaux is a frequent participant in the celebration. The principal and owner of Boudreaux Associates supports the gala’s approach and cause. “The Kappas are a great group of people. They provide money to several organizations. That was a broad appeal to us,” he says.

Vivid blue linens along with crisp white dinnerware and florals distinguished the Boudreaux tablescape. Accents were selected to honor the designer’s anniversary of participation in Kappa Tablescapes. “It was our 10-year anniver-sary. It was their 25-year anniversary. We brought back things we had used before. We combined old and new, faux and real,” Boudreaux says. The design direction and color of Boudreaux’s tablescape were well thought out, developed to coordinate with the design approach of the event speaker, Ray Booth. “We always try to do something that relates to the speaker. He uses blue in a lot of things. We made it transitional,” says Boudreaux.

The 2019 luncheon speaker, Ray Booth, is a nationally known designer associated with the McAlpine House interior design and architecture group. After meeting the Kappa Tablescapes co-chairs during Dallas Design Week in 2018, he was intrigued by the mission of the organization.

“The fact that it was an organization that has a history of doing good, and the fact they wanted me was humbling,” says Booth. “I got to realize what a substantial contribution this event has made over the years.”

Booth’s recently released book, Evocative Interiors, served as inspiration for his event presentation.

“The thesis of the talk was that home is more than just a beautiful place. I learned from my mother that home is really an emotional vessel. It’s a place of passion, safety, nurturing. It seeped into my DNA,” Booth says.

A supporter of nonprofit efforts, Booth was honored to participate in Kappa Kappa Gamma Tablescapes. “They’re using a creative endeavor to inspire and raise money,” he says.

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Nancy Baldwin is a Dallas-based freelance writer and editor. Contact her at baldwinwriter@gmail.com.