Sunday, June 15, 2014

Right turn, Clyde!

Their red hair and empathetic, self-aware personalities make orangutans my favorite apes; It was breezy and 70 degrees for this year's event - perfect Zoobilation weather (and for wearing a long flowy dress that catches the light as it blows around); orange lilies (my favorite) make simple but stunning centerpieces in front of the far East stage, where great bands played all night.
Am I the only person on the planet who remembers the Oreo-hoarding orangutan from the Clint Eastwood movies Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can?  I've referenced the quirky, red-headed Clyde to a few people in the weeks leading up to this year's Zoobilation, which feted the opening of a new orangutan habitat at the Indianapolis Zoo, but received mostly blank stares in response.  Come on, people - how can you not love a movie about a fist-fighting trucker with a heart of gold and a Great Ape for a costar?!Zoobilation is my favorite black tie event in the city.  

The largest annual fundraiser in the state, it's described on its Facebook page as "a black-tie, outdoor dining event that highlights 50+ restaurants & raises money to support the care and feeding of the Zoo’s animals & plants, as well as the Zoo’s internationally significant conservation & research efforts."  
 It's NOT your typical black tie chicken dinner.  In fact, people take adantage of a new theme each year to get very creative with the boundaries of formal attire.  This year's theme was "Rock Your Orange," in honor of the zoo's new ginger-furred stars.  I wore my favorite "Jody Orange" dress to last year's Zoobilation (see it here), but I found a suitable sunset hued paisley alternative for just $40 at a little Indian boutique.  I like it as much or more than any of the exponentially more expensive dresses I checked out at Nordstrom and Saks.  It has a unique crochet bodice and the pleated paisley satin glowed in the late evening sun, particularly as it swished around in the occassionally stiff breeze.  
 This event involves LOTS of walking, so any woman who's been to Zoobilation more than once is likely to forego the haughty high heels in favor of fancy flip flops.  I found this pair, embellished with sparkling faceted beads, at Meijer a few years ago for only eleven dollars (yep - who else but me goes grocery shopping and comes home with a side dish of shoes?!)   These kitten heeled sandals are comfortable and just happened to coordinate perfectly with my gown.
 From a style perspective, one of the aspects of Zoobilation I appreciate most is that it also inspires the men to color outside the black tie lines.  From citrus bright vests and bow ties to persimmon hued eel-skin loafers and all-out orange tuxedos, even typically conservative dressers have fun with fashion in this celebratory setting.
Just a few of my stylish friends who rocked their orange (and a perfect photo bomb by Kevin); I didn't take as many pictures as I might have liked, but I was so caught up in catching up with friends, eating St. Elmo's shriimp cocktail, Blondie's cookies, smoked rainbow trout from Rick's Cafe Boatyard and about 100 other delicious nibbles and drinks that holding onto a camera all evening was out of the question - live in the moment!

It made my day when one of my friends emailed me on the morning of the event to say that her husband, a first-time Zoobilation attendee, was considering wearing orange and grey Chuck Taylor's with his tux and wanted my opinion on whether it would be "too ridiculous."  Were it any other formal event, I would have said, "don't even think about it."  But for this night, I was all for it.  He rocked his orange with personality plus, and his wife looked stunning in a graphic maxi dress from my favorite local boutique, Enza's.
 If you live in or near Indianapolis and you've never experienced Zoobilation, mark your calendar for next year's event, which will take place on June 12 (tickets will go on sale February 2, 2015).  In the meantime, you won't want to miss the new orangutan exhibit.  These intelligent, empathetic redheads are fascinating to observe with interact with - I can't wait to go back and spend more time with them.

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!