La Soirée: For Your Eyes Only

Entertainment Guide cover Jan. 9, 2014

You don’t have to be a fashionista to appreciate the fabulous styles, beautiful models, elegant décor, entertaining themes and philanthropic cause of La Soirée, Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas Foundation’s annual gala, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 25, at 6:30 p.m. at the Beaumont Civic Center.

In its sixth year, La Soirée brings with it a slice of the Big Apple in a fashion extravaganza featuring models that strut the runway while showing off the latest trends from local retailers for the upcoming season.

“Right here in Jefferson County … you can click your heels and feel like you have entered a Milan fashion show,” said Angie McClelland, coordinator of the fashion show portion of the gala.

“Angie has great vision,” said Kate Carroll, executive director of Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas Foundation. “Taking fashions from all the different boutiques around is how she works her magic and what’s so unique and inspirational about this event.”

Each year the fundraiser features a new and exciting theme, which Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas Foundation Business Development Director Christy Hardt said she, Carroll and a committee of around 100 members brainstorm well in advance.

“We’re already planning next year,” Hardt said.

Past years’ themes have included Texas on the Ritz, Moulin Rouge and Cirque du Soleil — all of which have come with plenty of surprises.

“We’ve had an elephant come through the Civic Center,” McClelland said. “We’ve had live longhorns. No one was expecting those things.”

This year promises to be no exception. With a James Bond theme, the 2013 edition of La Soirée is “For Your Eyes Only.”

“We’ve transformed the Civic Center into a magical medley of the expeditions of James Bond,” said McClelland, who wouldn’t give away any secrets but promised patrons would see a little gold in the show. “I’m a Goldfinger girl,” she said.

“James Bond traveled all over the world. He was skiing, he was scuba diving, he was in Paris, he was in Hong Kong. I have a feeling we’re going to see this fashion show all over the place. We could be on the Moonraker,” said Carroll, a self-confessed Bond “junkie” who loves Sean Connery as well as Daniel Craig and cited On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as well as Casino Royale as Bond favorites. Hardt said, like McClelland, she prefers Goldfinger.

The night will kick off at 6:30 p.m. with a “Shaken, Not Stirred” cocktail reception named for Bond’s martini preference and sponsored by Previty Clinic For Surgical Care. The cocktail hour will also feature a special guest appearance sponsored by Pinewood Trading Fund and will be followed by a silent auction using BidPal — a cutting-edge method of bidding using smart phones to text bids rather than scribbling on paper bidding sheets.

“It is the future of auction,” Hardt said.

“You can use the BidPal devices that are checked out or just use your cell phone and download the app,” Carroll said. “People can keep up with their cell phone and you don’t have to keep running back to see if your bid is outbid. You can just have your cell phone at the table to watch how your bid is going and enjoy your cocktail.”

There will be around 60 items for auction including a Disney vacation for four, Hardt said.

“This is exciting for our auction,” she said. “We’ve had small vacations … but we’ve never had Disney.”

Others items include purses (last year’s auction featured a Louis Vuitton), jewelry, sunglasses, portraits, and much more.

“We will have BidPal up early so (people) can peruse the items up for auction,” Carroll said.

During the auction, guests will enjoy appetizers followed by a sit-down dinner.

“We have some new and exciting things we are introducing this year food wise,” Hardt said.

After dinner and following the fashion show, guests will enjoy dancing to Motown favorites,’ 70s disco and funk, ’80s and ’90s R&B, and popular hip-hop and Latin songs, performed by Sauce the Band, straight out of “The Live Music Capital of the World” — Austin, Texas.

“They’ve got a great, groovy sound,” Carroll said. “Your typical, fun dance music.”

Southeast Texans don’t have to wait until Jan. 25 to feel like a VIP, however, as Fashion Week leads the way to La Soirée.

Those planning to attend the gala will have an opportunity to find that perfect outfit to wear to the show and shop in style as Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas Foundation offers Fashion Fleet on Friday, Jan. 17. Shoppers may purchase VIP tickets for $75 or Fashion Fleet tickets for $25.

“VIP shoppers get to ride in a limo,” Hardt said. “Everybody who purchases a ticket gets a heavy-duty shopping bag they can use throughout the year, but the VIP shoppers get a swag bag. Their shopping bags will be filled with great treats that we’ve put together just for them.”

Hardt said this year’s swag bag goodies would include spa items meant to pamper. Non-VIP shoppers will board buses provided by Acadian Ambulance. All participants will begin their shopping excursion at Bistro LeMonde, 3199 Dowlen Road in Beaumont. Retailers will offer major discounts and in store specials, along with refreshments.

At the end of the night, door prizes will be given and shoppers can enjoy dinner from Bistro LeMonde — which offers favorite dishes from around the world from casual to fancy — as they listen to live entertainment.

The money raised each year from Fashion Week and La Soirée supports Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas Foundation. Money raised at previous events has helped fund the breast health expansion at the Charline and Sidney “Chief” Dauphin Cancer Screening and Prevention Center, assisted with a makeover and new equipment purchase at the Baptist Cancer Center, and helped to establish a family room on the Oncology Unit at Baptist Hospitals.

“To get to see the foundation on the front side and the projects that the foundation funds is amazing,” said Carroll, daughter of the late U.S. Congressman Jack Brooks. “To actually see the funding going into place at the hospital … it’s so rewarding. It’s such a great feeling. If we can make one child feel comfortable coming in the pediatric ER as opposed to getting lost in the big ER or help one family in Oncology feel more comfortable … it inspires me and I hope it inspires others too. You’re always wanting to do that much more.”

This year’s La Soirée is being chaired by Dr. Mark and Aileen Larson. Dr. Larson is an innovative plastic surgeon who was one of the first in Texas to perform transaxillary endoscopic breast augmentations. According to his website, Dr. Larson is the only plastic surgeon in Jefferson County who performs this surgical technique.

“Mark and I are honored to be a part of and to support the Baptist Foundation and La Soiree,” said Aileen Larson, Dr. Larson’s wife. “This event supports such a worthy cause and is always so much fun. Mark and his father have been affiliated with Baptist Hospital for more than 30 years. The staff and doctors are excellent and Baptist has always been so supportive of us. We feel like family.”

Tickets for La Soirée are $175 each and table sponsorships range from $2,500 to $50,000. Both are available by RSVP only by calling (409) 212-6110. For more information, search Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas Foundation on Facebook. The Beaumont Civic Center is at 701 Main St. in Beaumont.

“From the beginning … (La Soirée) never lacks energy,” Carroll said. “From the time you walk in the door to the time you finally decide to leave, it’s one thing after the other. I think that’s why it’s the most fashionably fun evening in Beaumont.”