Click here  for photos from the glamorous Swan Ball red carpet.
One look at the sweeping, sparkling vista under the tent of the 47th annual Swan Ball and the white-tie guests knew they had been whisked away to an oasis from the turbulent economic times affecting the rest of the world.
The 2009 Swan Ball, Nashville's premier gala and one of the largest and most prominent charity events in the country, is an annual night of revelry and magic, dining and dancing, under a magnificent tent at Cheekwood. And this year was no exception.
The night's theme, the vision of Swan Ball chair Frances Spradley and co-chair Kathy Thomas and masterminded by Nashville's own floral and design extraordinaire Joe Smith of firm Ilex, was a modern interpretation of a 17th-century formal English garden with an Asian-fusion vibe. The color palette of elegant black and white centered around a simple yet stunning flower — the white clematis.
"We found our fit with Joe Smith. He understood the look we were going after," Spradley said. "Even before the economy crashed we really wanted to keep our expenses under control yet without compromising the event. With Joe's ideas we could create things without spending a lot of money, without getting out of control. We'd cut here and there, but I don't think the integrity of the ball was compromised one bit...You [felt] like you were in a magical place for the night and that's what everyone wants to feel when they come to the Ball."
Added Thomas: "It has a real clean look without being too fussy. Neither of us is fussy, just with a little edge. [The design] speaks well of our personalities."
Spradley wore a beaded turquoise silk gown by Brazilian designer Angel Sanchez. It was cut with a V-neck, an empire waist and a slim fit through the bodice and waist and then ballooned flatteringly downward with a slight train. Thomas chose a simple, form-fighting gown of heavy silk by Prada with pleats at the bust and two flower designs on either side.
After a red carpet entrance, guests enjoyed cocktails in the Cheekwood mansion loggia before beginning an exquisite dinner by caterer Daniel Kate. The menu included a lump jumbo crab salad which guests found at their place settings when they were seated, followed by a tenderloin of veal atop a bed of corn, mushroom, sugar snap peas and tomato confit. The sweet ending was a mocha creme brulee complemented by a taste of key lime pie.
The remainder of the evening was spent dancing under two sparkling chandeliers and listening to the sweet sounds of Nashville's own treasure, country star LeAnn Rimes.
"We wanted someone with some elegance and could relate to the crowd, but also do something like a dinner show that the guests could enjoy watching from their tables, and we thought LeAnn fit the bill," Spradley said. "She has a beautiful voice, she's a beautiful girl. We thought her voice, her music, her stage presence were just what we were looking for."