Skip to main content
Performing Art
Diana Kelly and Stephanie Hannum. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Baxter.
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2012 5 years ago

Black Tie & Tales

by: Loren Mayo and Molly Schechter

+ The perfect fit
Sarasota designer and entrepreneur Diana Kelly’s classic shoes have been generating buzz all around town since their debut in 2010, but now they are also capturing national buzz on the pages of Southern Living. The article profiling young designers appears in the magazine’s March issue.

“We were thrilled to have been featured by Southern Living, a magazine that three generations of women (my grandmother, mother and I) all love to read and pull ideas from,” says Kelly.

As the Diana E. Kelly brand continues to grow, Kelly is bringing on a new team member. The Observer’s Stephanie Hannum will be leaving after six years as Black Tie editor and, most recently, advertising coordinator, to be Kelly’s vice president of operations.

“The Observer has been the most wonderful family, so I’m excited to take on this great opportunity armed with all the experiences and lessons I’ve learned at the newspaper,” says Hannum. “In addition to getting to work with a truly inspirational designer, what girl would not love to work with shoes?!”

To find out more about Diana E. Kelly, visit

+ Ohhh, Sandy!
There she was in the Miramar Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, happily seated in a chair and pouring herself a spot of tea.

Four-time Grammy award winner and breast-cancer survivor Olivia Newton-John was the keynote speaker at the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation’s 13th annual Sarasota Women’s Cancer Awareness Luncheon March 19.

Newton-John, a member of Moffitt’s national board of advisers, advocates for early detection and encourages women to take an active role in their breast health. This April, she will launch a cookbook in which she talks about her relationships with food, cancer and how to eat healthy. All profits will benefit the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre — Austin Hospital, in Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia.
When asked about her father winning the Nobel Prize (it was actually her grandfather, physicist Max Born), Newton-John replied, “Yes, my grandfather was a Nobel Prize winner, and I ended up singing. What are the chances?”

During a question-and-answer session, a woman asked Newton-John if she would sing something. Her response: “For $10,000 for Moffitt, I’ll sing a few bars.” The next person to pick up the microphone was Tom Koski. He surprised the room and said he was willing to write a check. Newton-John then took his hand and sang part of the requested, “I Honestly Love You.”

+ A year of firsts …
Jewish Family & Children’s Service launched its Celebrity Chefs & Wine Tasting event eight years ago with the goal of attracting a younger audience to a less expensive, more casual event, versus its annual black-tie gala. The concept originated with Marion Levine, of Longboat Key, who is considered the “founding chairman.” This year the event attracting some 600-plus guests March 19, to the Longboat Key Club Islandside tent. It was “firsts” galore for event Co-Chairs Randy and Susan Mallitz and Golf Challenge Chair Shaun Benderson: more total guests, more young ones and more corporate sponsors. It was also the first time it rained on this event. Most of the mild discomfort fell on the 25 guest chefs positioned at the outer edges of the tent, among them Edward Geyfman, of event sponsor Longboat Key Club & Resort, Carlos Moran, of Toasted Mango Café, and Dino Carta, of Café Americano. On a fashion note: The notice-it-from-across-the-room necklace worn by Susan Mallitz’s sister from Florida’s east coast and a 40-year-old Abe Schrader print shirtwaist worn by Ruth Kreindler that looked newer than the newest prints in the fanciest stores. 

+ Tidbits
Double duke … Ringling College of Art and Design President Dr. Larry Thompson, who went as John Wayne to the Avant-Garde gala, asked David Meeker, who also went as John Wayne, if Larry could be young John and David, old John … Gentlemen’s moment … two husbands seated next to each other at Saturday’s Firefly Gala did some major male bonding and at one point, one husband exclaimed to his new BFF’s wife, “ I love your husband — he’s like a ball of string and I’m the cat!” … Happy, happy Denise Mei celebrated her birthday during the Firefly Gala — BT found her trying to corral a group of highly excited women as they attempted to pose for photographs with as many “Happy Birthday” and “Wild Thing” signs as would fit in their arms …

Related Stories