Ball gowns made to order

It’s time, Cinderella — take out your glass slippers.

For the 16th time, Nordstrom and the San Francisco Opera Guild team up today for Designer Fête, a benefit event showcasing fall dresses and ball gowns straight from designers’ ateliers. The custom designs will be for sale, and ready in time for revelers who want to attend The City’s big autumn galas in style.

The all-day festivities at the Westin St. Francis begin at 10:30 a.m. with a reception and preview of evening wear in a unique, on-site boutique in the hotel’s Italian Room created just for the occasion; a luncheon and runway fashion show follow in the Grand Ballroom.

As the runway show draws to a close, the boutique re-opens for patrons to browse, try on, or custom order any of the fashions seen in the show.

New creations from Carmen Marc Valvo, Pamella Roland, Redux Charles Chang-Lima, Robert Danes, Stephen Yearick, Zang Toi, Monique Lhullier will available for up-close-and-personal inspection; the designers and their representatives will be on the premises to help with fittings and to answer any questions.

Designer Fête co-chair Patricia Ferrin Loucks says, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to try on and choose a made-to-order party dress or gown — to see them, touch them, try them on, buy them. You feel like a princess for a day. It’s a magical experience.”

Nordstrom buyers choose participating designers who fly in their 2008 fall lines specifically for the event.

For the runway show, the store’s fashion director selects key styles (watch for black, deep gray and plum this fall) and puts together fashion scenes highlighting each designer. There’s a mixture of short and long gowns.

The boutique allows patrons to peruse fashions and see designers’ entire range, including styles not featured in the show.

For fashion-forwardfolks looking to buy a dress or a gown that’s not simply off the rack, the Designer Fête represents a unique opportunity to get a dress that’s made just for them.

Proceeds from the event go to the San Francisco Opera Guild, which funds award-winning opera education and outreach programs. Last year, more than 50,000 Bay Area children attended opera performances and in-school education programs.

Alan Morrell, store manager of Nordstrom in San Francisco, says, “We love working with the Opera Guild for this show. This is a really great opportunity to select a dress for the Opera Ball and so many social occasions here in The City.”

IF YOU GO

Designer Fête 2008

Where: Westin St. Francis, 335 Powell St., San Francisco

When: 10:30 a.m. today

Tickets: $150 and up

Contact: (415) 565-3204

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