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A Throwback to the Stork Club

When my co-chair Jay Benson and I originally started brainstorming for this year’s Society 1858 Winter Party, all we knew for sure was that we wanted to do something no one had seen before. With all of the productions, functions, and events always going on in Charleston, that is not an easy feat. We ran through several great ideas, but none were exactly what we wanted… and then it came to us: we wanted to recreate the appeal and excitement of the fabulous NYC Stork Club! With the help of some of the most creative minds in Society 1858, the idea became a reality.

The entrance to the Stork Club in NYC.

The entrance to the Stork Club in NYC.

Sherman Billingsley’s Stork Club was the swankiest place to see and be seen from 1929–65. Everyone who was anyone made their way to the Stork Club, including celebrities, sports figures, politicians, and socialites. Can you imagine being seated next to Grace Kelly, Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland or Marilyn Monroe?

Actress Marilyn Monroe and baseball player Joe Dimaggio.

Actress Marilyn Monroe and baseball player Joe Dimaggio.

One of the things that I really like about the Stork Club theme is all of the glamour behind it. Women wore evening gowns with silk gloves and men had to wear a tie. In looking through the old photos, you never see anyone dressed down or a hair out of place. In the current era of casualness, it’s nice to imagine a place like this.

Shirley Temple and company the Stork Club.

Shirley Temple and company the Stork Club.

In planning for the party, I have heard lots of fun stories about the original Stork Club. One of my favorites involves Evalyn Walsh McLean losing the Hope Diamond—all 45.52 karats!—at the Stork Club while wearing it out for a night on the town. You’ll never believe that it was later found underneath the table! Another favorite is Ernest Hemingway cashing his $100,000 check for film rights to For Whom the Bell Tolls to settle his bill.

Ernest Hemingway, Sherman Billinsgley, and John O'Hara.

Ernest Hemingway, Sherman Billinsgley, and John O’Hara.

We started building the buzz in December by inviting our fabulous Host Committee for a preview at The Spectator Hotel, which felt like a throwback to a cocktail club in the Jazz Age. At this party, we also unveiled our stunning logo, created by Fork & Knife. Thanks to the Neighborhood Dining Group, our Stork Club will take place on January 29 at No. 5 Faber, and I can’t think of a better place with its sweeping dance floor, polished granite bar, and suede and leather banquettes. No. 5 Faber will be transformed into Charleston’s very own version of the Stork, for one night only! With décor by InventivEnvironments, a marvelous menu by Hamby Catering & Events, and just as the Stork Club was famous for its knowledgeable bartenders, we’ll be offering a specialty cocktail next Friday night. Once you get there, you’ll never want to leave!

Coat check girls

The coat check girls were aspiring actresses who had to audition for their role at the club.

If you want to be privy to all of our surprises, you’ll have to buy a ticket to pass through the gold chain. Expect live jazz and a performance or two from Broeworks. We will also be bringing back the chance to win original art by local artists; you don’t want to miss your chance to take home a work by Karen Ann Myers, Raven Roxanne, Sally King Benedict, Marissa Vogl, Jill Hooper, Alan Jackson, Lese Corrigan, Francis Sills, and Kate Long Stevenson. There will also be a few pieces of special, authentic Stork Club artwork donated by Shermane Billingsley, heiress to the original Stork Club’s legacy, and Stork Club Enterprises, LLC. Stay tuned to our social media pages to get a few more hints.

New Year’s Eve in the Shermane Suite at the Stork Club, 1953, by Albert Dorne.

New Year’s Eve in the Shermane Suite at the Stork Club, 1953, by Albert Dorne.

Dress your ritziest (cocktail suggested, costumes are not required but certainly welcome) to come relive the allure of the Stork Club and don’t be left out in the cold! Tickets can be purchased at www.storkclubcharleston.org.

Susie Armstrong, 1858 Winter Party Co-chair and guest blogger

 

Published January 21, 2016

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