Arizona Costume Institute

Holiday Luncheon 2018

text by Kathryn Brooks   photos by Darrylee Cohen 

Above top: Keynote speaker Stephen Jones addresses the sold-out gathering. Middle left: Stephen Jones and Dennita Sewell. Middle right: Amada Cruz. Bottom left: Lynne Love and Mary Ellen McKee. Bottom right: Chrissy Sayre.

A perennial Valley favorite on everyone’s social calendar, the Arizona Costume Institute (ACI) Holiday Luncheon returned to Phoenix Art Museum on December 3. All proceeds of this sold-out event support the internationally-renowned fashion design program at the Museum. Chaired by Lynne Love, the event honored Mary Ellen McKee, community philanthropist and fashionista, who was recognized as the first-ever Honorary Holiday Luncheon Chair in honor of her generous, longtime support of Arizona Costume Institute. 

Above, top left: Ann Cothron. Top right: Vicki Vaughn and Billie Jo Herberger. Bottom left: left to right; Tracy Lytle, Paula Wichterman and Erika Dickey. Bottom right: Priscilla Nicholas.

The elegant luncheon featured a champagne reception allowing guests to mingle and peruse raffle items for a chance to win a hat designed by Stephen Jones, signed copies of Stephen Jones’ book, a fascinator created by Ruby Farias Designs, an all-inclusive trip to Napa Valley and other luxury fashion items. Attendees were then escorted into the main hall for a sit-down lunch provided by Santa Barbara Catering. The event was made possible through the generous support of the Scottsdale-based luxury consignment boutique To Be Continued.

“We are so grateful to both the board of Arizona Costume Institute and its members for their ongoing generous support of Phoenix Art Museum. Now entering its 52nd year, Arizona Costume Institute and its annual holiday luncheon play a crucial role in both the history and future of the Museum and its fashion design program,” says Amada Cruz, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “The members of the luncheon’s planning committee truly devoted themselves to creating a beautiful event, and their tireless efforts resulted in an infusion of generous support for Phoenix Art Museum.”

Above, top left: left to right; Carol Schriber, Rita Van Sickle and Lisa Moore. Top right: John Reyes and Lisa Portigal. Middle left: Stephen Jones chats with Perrine Adams. Middle right: left to right; Eileen Yeung, Adrienne Schniffer and guest. Bottom: Perrine Adams raises a toast.

Dennita Sewell, the Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design, Phoenix Art Museum, welcomed the attendees. Sewell’s 18 years of dedicated service to the fashion program at Phoenix Art Museum has resulted in extensive press, international recognition and elevated the types of fashion exhibitions the Museum continues to attract. 

The Museum’s collection, notable for its quality and comprehensiveness, includes more than 7,000 objects and continues to grow. Fashions from across the decades include ensembles from Jean Patou, Balenciaga, Bill Blass, Tom Ford, Oscar de la Renta, Givenchy, Geoffrey Beene, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Gianfranco Ferré, Ralph Rucci, Christian Dior and Iris van Herpen among others.

Above, top left: Ellen Katz. Top right: Kati Festy-Sandor and Stephen Jones. Bottom left: left to right; Jennifer Chase, Shawn Goodman and Deedee Vecchione. Bottom right: ASU Students.

Following greetings by Dennita Sewell, Lynne Love and ACI President Luba Burns, the guest keynote speaker, Stephen Jones was introduced. Jones, one of the most innovative milliners of our time, has been an industry game changer for more than 30 years. He has collaborated with designers from Vivienne Westwood to Claude Montana. Currently collaborating with Thom Browne, Marc Jacobs and Christian Dior, Jones’ hats have been and continue to be an integral component in some of the most memorable runway spectacles of the past quarter-century. His creations have been spotted at this year’s Royal weddings, in exhibitions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, gracing the pages of Vogue and donning the heads of his celebrity clientele. 

Jones regaled the audience with insider stories of his career and reminisced about the experiences of collaborating with A-list design houses. Offering insights from his newly released book, Stephen Jones: Souvenirs, he illustrated his talk with examples of his work. Copies of his book were available for purchase in the Museum bookstore and guests had the opportunity to participate in a book signing immediately following the luncheon.

Now beginning its 53rd year, ACI’s mission is to maintain and expand the Phoenix Art Museum’s Fashion Collection and to promote the Fashion Department through programs and support of the Museum exhibitions. All proceeds of this event benefit the Museum’s Fashion Collection and educational programs. For more information on ACI, visit