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Society: 2015 social scene a memorable one

Chuck Bennett

The social scene in metro Detroit was on full tilt throughout 2015 with a wide selection of events, from spectacular grand openings to record-breaking charity galas. We’ve gathered a few of the year’s standouts for review:

Social parties generally take a hiatus between Christmas and a week or two into the New Year. Suddenly, by mid-January, the scene is catapulted into existence with a huge influx of auto show parties. Detroit’s Prom (better known as the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview Gala), is a perennial favorite and last year did not disappoint. Rapidly becoming a “must-have” ticket is the Auto Show’s “Gallery” party, or the rich man’s auto show. It’s held at MGM Grand Detroit, featuring an extravagant meal prepared by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, finished with a fashion show and a jaw-dropping display of some the world’s most desired exotic cars.

Designer John Varvatos, left, supermodel Kate Upton, and Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander at the grand opening of the John Varvatos store in April.

There were spectacular grand openings celebrated in 2016, most notably, the John Varvatos store on Woodward in April, attended by Detroit’s Who’s Who (even Tiger’s pitcher Justin Verlander and supermodel Kate Upton), punctuated with an electrifying in-store performance by Alice Cooper. Will Leather Goods opened its first Detroit store with a musical party showcasing the DSO playing Motown music, interspersed with a cappella vignettes performed by the Fantastic Four and Serieux. Party guests included the original Vandellas, the Contours and Motown star Kem.

The charity events were warm and intimate to enormous and over the top. The CCS Wine Auction, always on point, transformed the former City Airport into a glamorous party venue for its event in October, not to be outdone by the Historical Society, which held its annual glamorous Society Ball in December at the site of the historic Packard Plant.

Former boxer Laila Ali, left, and “Go Red” luncheon event chair, Janice Cosby, in February.

With more than 1,000 in attendance, the 50th anniversary gala for the Charles Wright Museum in October was an elaborate production that raised nearly $2 million. American Heart Association, with St. John Providence’s Janice Cosby as chair, did a great job with its annual “Go Red” luncheon in February with Laila Ali as keynote speaker, and Child Safe presented an elegant Legends Ball at the Townsend Hotel in May, honoring a number of prominent Detroiters, Isiah Thomas, Tommy Hearns and Martha Reeves among them.

Lucia Zurkowski and Chef Duglass Duglass were hosts at the DSO’s “Musical Feast” in December.

MOCAD’s intriguing summer dinner series was very well-received with its collection of perfect parties, three in particular: Two were at the homes of Linda Dresner and Ed Levy, as well as Linda and Rob Powers; and the third, an intimate dinner party hosted by Neiman Marcus, Somerset. It seems the DSO saved the best for last. As the season came to a close in December, Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Volunteer Council completed its 2015 “Musical Feast Series” with an exquisite holiday party at the home of Lucia Zurkowski. Twelve guests paid $1,000 each and enjoyed an unforgettable evening featuring a seven-course meal prepared by celebrity chef Duglass Duglass.

Chuck Bennett is the creator of the Social D. See