Model For A Cause

Miami’s “Local Legends” take over the runway at Market America’s 10th annual Fashion Art Ball for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

By Cristina Ordoqui Photography by Zoltan Photography


Where do Miami’s hippest and hottest go when they want to party? On Friday, April 4, 2008, 200 “local legends” headed over to Casa Casuarina, the former Versace Mansion turned members-only club, for the 10th annual Fashion Art Ball to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation hosted by Market America.

“The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s mission is to assure the development of the means to cure and control cystic fibrosis and to improve the quality of life for those with the disease,” said J.R. Ridinger, president and CEO of Market America, adding that his company is proud to sponsor and participate in an event that supports the organization’s mission.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a non-profit, donor-supported organization that spends 90 percent of every dollar raised to fund research, care, and educational programs for their doctors and patients. Until 1955, when CFF was founded, children infected with the disease were not expected to live long enough to attend elementary school. But as CFF continues to research and develop treatments for the disease, the median survival age for victims has reached 37 and is still climbing.

“The foundation is to be commended for its extraordinary efforts, and we as a company and as individuals are pleased to do whatever we can to help those diagnosed with this disease enjoy life to its fullest and to ultimately find a cure,” says Loren Ridinger, senior vice president of Market America.

The evening kicked off with a bang as Channel 7’s Deco Drive personality Shireen Sandoval and South Beach nightlife promoter Tommy Pooch warmly welcomed the Ridingers, who in turn, introduced a fabulous fashion show as well as a challenging Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament for their guests.

The fashion show, featuring the work of Miami designer Rafael Cennamo, quickly became the talk of the evening. Models paraded down the catwalk in his beautifully crafted avant-garde couture, which according to the designer himself was inspired by the elements of nature. Meanwhile, the audience enjoyed delicious cocktails provided by Southern Wine and Spirits as well as a dinner catered by The Forge, Table 8, and China Grill.

At any other fashion show, the audience would sit, watch, applaud, and admire the couture that graces the runway before them, but in South Beach, the stars rarely step back from the spotlight. Instead, they join the models on stage. Miami locals Lance Tinkler, B.E.D.; Beau Beasley, Set; Michael Capponi, Mansion and Set; Haute Living’s own DJ Irie; Linley Edwards, Mokai; Nathan Foster, Dek23; Josh Wagner, The Florida Room; Anwar Zayden, Art Express; and J.R. Ridinger all strutted on the catwalk decked out in Penguin designs. Of course, in the competitive, testosterone-filled world of men’s fashion, it’s every man for himself, and each strives to outperform the next. Shareef Malnik of The Forge and Buster of A3TV swaggered down the catwalk tanned and shirtless. Fashion Art Ball veteran Thomas Kramer took the show to the next level as he entertained the audience with a PG-13 striptease. Pauly Shore also surprised the audience with a walk down the runway complete with a racy striptease as he unbuttoned his pants but left the rest to the imagination.

It must have been an interesting show for Miami Beach-native director Brett Ratner, who sat front and center at the show alongside South Beach’s “It Girl” Amber Ridinger and America’s Next Top Model season seven contestant Anchal Joseph. Leave it to the Miamians to do it big and do it right.