High Cotton: Men’s fashion show benefits Family Crisis Council

Published 12:04 am Sunday, May 22, 2016

By Susan Shinn

For The Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — The High Cotton men’s fashion show made its sophomore run on May 14 on the lawn of the Hambley Wallace House. Another stunning venue, another beautiful night for a worthy cause.

Some 30 local gentlemen strutted their stuff all in good fun, to benefit the Family Crisis Council. As of Thursday morning, Executive Director Renee Bradshaw said the effort has raised more than $30,000.

New faces joined returnees from last year as more than two dozen guys entertained the crowd.

Always a fashion plate, financial advisor Charlie Sowers coordinated his outfit around a handmade bowtie he and wife Beth bought in Charleston. Made of peacock and rooster feathers, it was called “Eye of the Storm.”

Who knew bowties had names?

He complemented the tie with a navy jacket, cream khakis, and blue and white gingham shirt, and white straw hat. He even added a needlepoint belt accented with martini glasses, and blue and white UNC socks.

“She likes me to dress up,” Charlie said of his wife.

He looked good.

So did Chip Short, who sported what my mom would call a “loud” madras plaid jacket.

His wife Luanne hates it, he admitted.

“It’s too loud,” he said.

Well, yeah.

But, he said, “It reminds me of a madras jacket I had in college that I loved.

Well, OK.

Chip added a pair of sedate — thank goodness — dark navy trousers and black Cole Haan loafers “with the signature gold buckles.”

Larry Ford attended with wife Lawana, and wondered why he wasn’t on the model list.

“After all, I am one of the better looking guys here,” he quipped.

Brad Hall, a member of the council’s board of directors, had a prime spot by the front steps under a huge tree.

Despite a few raindrops early in the evening, the weather cleared beautifully by the time the fashion show started at 7.

Sitting in a comfy camp chair beside his wife, Hall said he worked with a similar organization when he worked for the state of Maine. The Halls retired to Salisbury, and he became a member of the Family Crisis Council board.

“I love it,” he said. “It’s a great organization, and very well organized. I see it progressing and expanding its role and services.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Wayne Koontz prepared to take his turn on the runway. He wore a blue seersucker suit with white vest and black and white spectator oxfords. He topped off the grand outfit with a special accessory — a father’s railroad watch. John Franklin Koontz was an engineer, he said.

He was also proud of his shoes — size 14EE.

By necessity, Koontz strolled the runway with a dogwood cane he’d made. He’d recently had a middle toe amputated, but got around well during the event. The longtime pediatrician noted he had seen 100,000 children in his 48-year career.

When asked what he was wearing, Kenan Smith said, “Ask my wife.”

He did manage to describe his ensemble: Nantucket red pants — actually Chip threw that in — plaid shirt, green bowtie, navy blazer.

It sounds like it did not match, but in fact Kenan, who works in investments, looked quite spiffy.

Lauren Stephenson arrived with husband Brad and sons Jeffrey, 6, and Emmett, 2, all three of whom were modeling. Brad is an assistant theater professor at Catawba College.

“I’m really nervous about this,” she admitted, but the boys did fine, all sporting outfits in navy and Kelly green. Emmett seemed a bit overwhelmed on stage, but Dad twirled him around and then picked him up to finish out the trio’s appearance.

Justin Dionne again served as master of ceremonies for the evening.

“I’m the new Kent Bernhardt,” he noted.

He noted that Emmett could often be spotted at Mr. Robert’s story time at the library, and that Jeffrey had some cool ninja moves.

“Can we get some ninja moves?” he asked the youngster, who shook his head no.

Corey Basinger, a local engineer and a pro from last year’s event, was dressed head to toe in Vineyard Vines: Kentucky Derby casual, he called it. Aqua tie, pink and white gingham shirt, light blue trousers, Rainbow sandals.

On paper, the outfit sounds questionable, but Corey made it work.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” Corey said of the fashion show. “I gladly accepted when I was invited again.”

Local contractor Chad Vriesma was on stage again but without his two darling daughters. He didn’t want to steal the show twice in a row, he explained.

As promised, Carl Repsher was back with a handsome pair of burgundy, navy and cream spectator oxfords. This time around, he added a seersucker suit and Steton hat, along with a pink dress shirt and bowtie.

Rik Spencer, a “good ol’ boy from West Jefferson,” was attired in the all-occasion Southern men’s uniform: navy jacket and khaki slacks. Wife Becky, Justin said, always buys everything on sale.

Judge James Randolph again took the runway with a gray seersucker suit, paired with an “almost matching” red tie, according to Justin.

Of course it matched.

Andre Resner sported seersucker shorts with a white shirt and yellow tie, topped off by a Panama hat. The longtime personal trainer is also a professor at Hood Theological Seminary.

Quick Copy’s John Grubb had a lovely escort in Riley Lowder, who wore a cute and colorful Lilly Pulitzer sundress — almost as bright as her personality, Justin said. John wore a black-and-white two-button suit with multi-colored bowtie, pink tailored shirt, and navy pocket square.

Tom Staats, a retired furniture manufacturer, also took the runway wearing shorts, because wife Cyncie loves his legs, according to Justin. He added a line sport coat polo dress shirt and tennis shoes to complete his casual, British-inspired look.

Madison Currin, a senior financial analyst with Food Lion, sported a blue seersucker jacket with poppy pink pants and green bowtie.

Renee was delighted to see husband Chris onstage again, and jumped up to give him a kiss. He wore blue seersucker pants with a royal linen blazer, which he paired with a pink shirt and pink bowtie.

Robert Van Geons, executive director for Rowan Works, paid homage to Prince with a purple ensemble which included a purple plaid jacket, khaki pants and a purple vest.

Attorney Bill Graham was attired in linen pants, an aqua ombre shirt and navy blazer. Justin said his wife Shari calls him Mannequin Man because he’s a perfect 42 regular and still has the same waist size he had in college.

It’s simple, Bill said afterward, smiling that dazzling smile. “Watch what you eat and exercise.”

Well, there you go.

Brannon Williams, who with wife Whitney hosted the event, took advantage of Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping to pull his outfit together, Justin said.

Daughter Annie waved at her dad from the front row, a little unsure of what to think of the evening’s spectacle that had unfolded on the toddler’s front lawn.

Local restaurateur Rick Anderson McCombs knows how to work the runway, and the crowd went crazy when Rick came on wearing a Gant red dogtooth blazer, white dress shirt, and navy trousers embroidered with pelicans, seahorses, lobsters and seagulls.

Other models for the evening included Charles Whaley, Giles Goodman (voted Best Dressed, Boyden High School, Class of 1968), Rick Parker, Bill Noell, Benton Whitaker, Mark Doby, and Reid Acree.

Board member Matthew Brown looked pretty sharp himself, wearing a light aqua linen jacket, plaid tie and khaki pants.

“It’s a great cause, and a unique event,” he said of High Cotton. “We needed a signature fundraising event. Salisbury is blessed to have so many women who do so much charity work. This gives the men a chance to shine.”


Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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