Designer hosts anniversary show near Jackson

Cardinal & Cream video exclusive: Pat Kerr hosts anniversary show near Jackson

Models walk down the runway during the Pat Kerr 30th Anniversary Fashion Celebration located at the Dutch Garden Center on Friday, Oct. 29. | Photo by Abby Ott

By Margaret Brinson

Hanging from the rafters and draped across tables, tiny, twinkling icicle lights blinked a soft glow onto mannequins and models  clothed to their toes in glitter and lace.

In celebration of her 30th year pinning and tucking, designer Pat Kerr hosted a fashion show at the Dutch Garden Center in Humboldt, Tenn., Oct. 29. Proceeds from the tickets benefited local charities, including Area Relief Ministries, the Regional Inter-Faith Association, the Darryl Worley Cancer Center, the Memphis Charity Foundation and the Jackson Center for Independent Living. The 450 slots to the event were sold-out at $120 a piece, raising a large sum to be split among the nonprofits.

Libby Murphy, Jackson author and co-chair of the event, called it “one of the most glamorous events ever to come to Jackson.” Murphy said plans for the “glamorous” show and collaboration with local nonprofits evolved from a desire to “benefit the many who are often considered the least glamorous. And that’s what makes my heart beat.”

Beginning with an hors d’oeuvres and cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m., guests munched and mingled, browsing an array of items available for a silent auction. A piano lounge and hand-rolled cigars entertained attendees before the show began at 8 p.m.

Before the idea for the show was formulated, Amy Van Buuren, whose husband owns the garden center, said she did not have a relationship with Kerr. Now, she said, the two know each other well. Van Buuren said they had been planning the event since April.

On the other hand, many guests were old friends of Kerr and her family, and with attendees hugging and greeting each other at every turn, the event was almost as much a homecoming as it was a celebration of “haute couture” — handmade, one-of-a-kind designs.

“(Kerr and I) were created by the same star dust,” Murphy said. “I don’t remember not knowing her.”

Though her tags may read “Pat Kerr, Memphis,” the designer is from nearby Savannah, Tenn., and her late husband, John Burton Tigrett, hailed from Jackson.

“It was an opportunity that isn’t going to come again, and for the 30th anniversary, we said ‘Let’s do it,’” Murphy said of plans to hold the event in western Tennessee.

The runway was housed in a greenhouse, separated from the party by a curving, torch-lit path. Once inside, guests filled the many black folding chairs spreading out from the stage.

As lights dimmed and classic tunes began to play from loud speakers, the crowd fell to a hush. Models stomped and strutted down the catwalk, clothed in haute couture and ready-to-wear original designs. Lace, white and vintage cuts were a theme of the night. Flowing gowns reminiscent of the early1900s swished past 1920s-style dresses with deep V’s at the front and back and hip-hugging waistlines. Audiences clapped for each woman who walked, pleased with what they were seeing.

“I just think it’s the most wonderful thing to ever happen to the area — to see Pat Kerr,” said Debbie Coffman, Adamsville resident.

Shirley Boyd, also from Adamsville, agreed.

“It’s worth the trip to see the dresses,” she said.

Garments shown reflected current trends and are easily incorporated into any wardrobe. Kerr’s specialty, lace, is popular in magazines and clothing stores this season, as are items with a vintage look.

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