Christina Gumpert, Aja Herman, and Sara Gibson
Shannon Kelley

Picture it: Saks Fifth Avenue, Thursday night (more specifically, the final night of the winter of our discontent; just don’t use that other D-word). The store is closed to the public, but you wander inside via the back door, at which point you are promptly handed a glass of wine. A platter of Hot Cookies appears; its bearer insists you taste a bite-sized brownie so decadently chocolatey that your brain becomes immediately and completely convinced you have just fallen in love. A few steps deeper, beyond the jewelry counter, a glistening mirage beckons. Nearer, it comes into focus, and the true nature of the twinkling blur is revealed as you stand before it; “it” being an enormous, fabulously constructed ice sculpture-in the shape of a high heel (a high heel that is so perfectly designed, you’re almost sad it’s made of ice, and not, say, glass, la Cinderella, or supple Italian leather, and in all likelihood doesn’t come in a size 6½). Upon closer inspection, though, you discover it is one of those cocktail-chilling ice luges, and the kick in question is manned by a brawny batch of S.B.’s bravest. Yes, firefighters are taking turns pouring buckets of pastel-colored booze into the heel, and filling up martini glasses with the quaff as it flows out of the peep-toe.

Romance novel junkies, I apologize: This is not a dream, and therefore is-sadly-not building toward a bodice-ripping moment in the shoe department. (All together now: A-las!) No, all of this really happened, and what you just read is only the half of it; this “it” being the second annual Saks & the City Fundraiser for the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, the most fabulous event to hit the fundraising circuit since-well, I don’t want to make comparisons, but did I mention the firefighters?

Conceived, according to one of the event’s organizers, Sheela Hunt, as a grown-up girls’ night out/slumber party, all the necessary ingredients were in place: In addition to the aforementioned boys ‘n’ booze, massages went down in the shoe department (how’s that for a fantasy?), and a photo booth saw plenty of action while Tarot cards were read downstairs, palms were read upstairs, and beautiful, tasty treats abounded at every turn. And while such an event would be an obvious winner anytime, given the current state of affairs, it seemed to tap something special. Not a lot of people are shopping these days, so I think we appreciated the fun of taking over Saks a little more than in boom times-and then there was the cause itself. Everything, from the food to the cocktails to the raffle prizes and the auction items, was donated, so 100 percent of the profits went directly to the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. Even the firefighters were out for more than a good time: They pointed to their freshly BIC’d melons, saying they’d all decided to go bald in solidarity with their pal/coworker Tyler Gillian, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

And when it was finally time to go, I thanked my fairy godmother, and hightailed it out of there-before my car turned into a pumpkin, or that stiletto into nothing more than a puddle.


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