NCF Foundation hosts Pique-nique sur la Baie

All photos Corey Rodda/Catalyst

On April 6, the Bay became saturated with the scent of Jimmy Choo perfume. Tables garnished with vases of pink water and rose petals, a runway and a legion of hat-clad people transformed the space behind college hall into the fashion wonderland that was the 28th annual Pique-nique sur la Baie.

“We had 457 [attendees] and we netted about $54,000 for the library and that’s more than the last couple of years,” said President and CEO of the New College Foundation Andy Walker. “We had beautiful weather. Out of people who have been going for the past twenty years, several said that this was the best one.”

The Pique-nique was a fundraiser for the Library Foundation for the purpose of buying new books. Staffers and volunteers for the foundation asked businesses in the community to underwrite aspects of the event. “New College definitely has its niche in the in the local community so people see that niche, recognize it and want to be a part of it,” said fourth-year Courtney Smith, a student intern. “So a lot of the support that we receive naturally flows.” Director of Events and Membership Development for the Foundation Johnette Cappadona is one of the main coordinators for the Pique-nique. “Johnette comes with extensive background from Jewish Family and Child Services,” Walker said. “She ran what is the signature fundraising event in Sarasota which she built up into an event that raises over half a million dollars a year. One of the reasons why we recruited Johnette is that though we know that these events are friend raisers for the college, the college really needs them to be much more financially important. So over the next year, pretty much over the next summer, Johnette is going to look at all the events that we do and really develop a strategic vision for what we can do better and which ones we should do and which ones we shouldn’t.”

Michael’s on East catered the Pique-nique and served attendees seafood salad with scallops, shrimp and crabmeat. Cappadona said, “It was delicious — apparently last year there was lobster in it.” For dessert, guests dined on vanilla ice cream that was sandwiched between pastry puffs and drizzled with raspberry and chocolate sauce. The catering bill came to $37,000 — including the tables, tents, linens, chairs, decor and staff for the event.

Saks Fifth Avenue put on the fashion show and had a boutique that sold perfumes and lotions to the “Pique-niquers.” Models donned looks designed by designer labels including Alexander McQueen, Alice + Olivia, Elizabeth and James, Milly, Stella McCartney, Yves Saint Laurent, Dian Von Furstenburg and Craig Signer. Signer, who is based in Miami, was the last designer whose clothes were presented on the runway. The final look — a sequin tulle off-shoulder gown— was worn by a former New College student, Rachelle Nigri. Nigri transferred to USF to study international relations but plans on returning to New College to write her thesis. All the models were professional, statuesque and adept at changing outfits swiftly — a necessary skill for the job. “Saks staff donated tremendous amounts of time to the event and they arranged for the donation of the [perfume] that everybody got, which was a $30,000 gift,” Walker said. “Each bottle of perfume was about $125.”

College Hall functioned as the backstage of the runway, the main back room sectioned off into a dressing room and makeup studio. Dainty turkey sandwiches were served to the models and mirrors were scattered about the dressing room.

First-year and New Colllege Student Alliance co-president Michael Long attended the Pique-nique. He said, “It was a lot of hats. Everyone was really dressed up and everyone looked really fancy. The funniest part of the fashion show was there was this one guy, one male model and every time he got to the end of the runway all of the women at my table got incredibly excited and they would stand up and start screaming and clapping. ”

After attendants of the Pique-nique left, the tents and tables were dismantled and the runway was torn down — but the musky peach and patchouli scent of Jimmy Choo perfume still thickened the air.

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