On October 4th Grayse of Fashion Island partnered with the Miss America Foundation in a fundraiser Fashion Show that was modeled by former and current Miss America contestants. A percentage of the money raised would be benefiting the Miss America Scholarship Foundation. Lynn Weidner, Chairman of the Miss America Organization Board of Directors and Susie Spanos, Owner of the Los Angeles Chargers had hosted the fun affair which offered cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres, wine tasting and a $500 gift certificate raffle. Also in attendance was Mr. Sam Haskell, the CEO and Executive Chairman of the Miss America Organization.
Susie Spanos, Owner of the San Diego Chargers, had just moved to Newport Beach from La Jolla. She commented on the Miss America Scholarship Foundation, “We are so fortunate that our family has always been one of service. We believe in giving back to the community. Lynn Weidner is a very dear friend of mine. The Miss America Foundation gives more money to scholarships than anyone else in the world. It’s remarkable the stories of the women who have changed their lives because of these scholarships. They all were able to fulfill their potential because of the scholarship money.”
The Miss America Scholarship Foundation is the number one Foundation for college scholarships in the world. Miss America is not only the largest provider of scholarships for women in the world, the Miss America Foundation is the only scholarship provider that pays off college debt. Scholarships may be used for both undergraduate and/or graduate studies and there is a great deal of flexibility surrounding the availability and use of these funds.
Lynn Weidner, Chairman of the Miss America Organization Board of Directors and a former Miss New Jersey, told The Hollywood 360, “We have long suspected that our organization was the biggest for scholarships but we are also the biggest for men and women, not just women. Best Colleges.org named us number one in the world but we usually say for women scholarships. We are the only ones that pay off college debt. We give the girls years to use their scholarships. The rules are very flexible to get the scholarships as well.”
She further elaborated about working with Kelly and Marie Gray, “Working with Grayse is a match made in heaven. I was a Grayse customer and started chatting with some of the women who work here about what I do with Miss America. They told me you have to meet Kelly Gray because she would be fascinated by the story of the Miss America Scholarships. Now they are supplying clothing for Miss America to wear during her very active year of service and are doing some fundraising with us. It’s beautiful to meet people with a common goal.”
Grayse in Fashion Island is owned by Marie and Kelly Gray, both icons in the fashion industry for their important roles in creating the St. John’s Knits company. The collection now being shown at Grayse, is modern specialty separates designed to dress women who love quality, luxury, and style. This is the Gray’s first time collaborating since their departure from St. John Knits almost a decade ago.
Most of the collection is produced at the company’s headquarters in Irvine, California. The duo places a high value on timeless style. Each piece is designed with attention to detail, carefully fitted to ensure the most flattering silhouette.
Marie Gray talked about working with her daughter. “Kelly and I worked together at St. Johns for 20 plus years. She learned a lot from her father and she learned a little bit from me. (she laughs) Kelly was actually editing my collections at 20 years old. That wasn’t an easy thing to do. She made sense when she told me why I couldn’t do red when I wanted to do red. She brought me down to earth and explained it in a manner I could understand. We had a great working relationship. We still do today. I respect her talents as she does mine.”
Marie Gray commented about the Miss American Foundation:
“I’ve watched Miss America for years and years and when Kelly came to me and explained about the funding for women scholarships …I was absolutely in awe… to see and hear what these women have done with the money for scholarships, I am so impressed. This is a rare opportunity to partner with a charity that does things for women to change their lives.”
Kelly Gray explained her enthusiasm working with the Miss America Foundation.
“When I met Lynn and Susie I was amazed to find out that Miss America donates more money for women’s scholarships than anyone in the world. That’s a pretty big statement. It was something I wanted to get behind, especially knowing that the accommodation of talent, beauty, style, and poise…are all synergistic to what Grayse represents. It seemed to be a great opportunity to raise money for a great cause.”
To further explain how Grayse’s philosophy on beauty matched the Miss America pageant’s philosophy…
“I was able to work with seven wonderful women of different generations. That was one of the things we talked about when we had our first meeting, was that Miss America was not only 21. We wanted to embrace multi-culture and multi-age. Grayse is an ageless brand, we don’t want to put a definition on how old you are to look beautiful.”
She continued… “What I think that people underestimate about the clothing is how flattering our clothing is. It looks good on a multitude of bodies, shapes, and styles and it’s so much more enticing to show the brand on the body which is why the fashion show is so important to us.”
The Fashion Show sparkled with the glamour of a Miss America Pageant as the models displayed the gorgeous fashions from Grayse. The audience saw glittering gowns, lovely day wear dresses, sporty pants outfits, plus snazzy jackets accenting the entire look. With each showing off of the fashions, huge applause was given by the guests.
There was one special person in the audience, Mary Hart, a former Miss America, and television host ofEntertainment Tonight who absolutely adored the entire event.
Mary Hart told me when I interviewed her on Facebook Live:
“When I first started hosting ET, I was clothed by St. John’s Knits so I met Marie Gray back then. I was so excited to find out they were coming out with this new line of clothing. Today is the first time I am seeing their new store. I love their collaboration with the Miss America Pageant. Lynn Weidner is a dear friend of mine as is Susie Spanos. The fact they are hosting this with Grayse is so great.”
Mary Hart talked about how the Miss America Scholarship Foundation helped her when she won Miss South Dakota.
“When I was in the Miss South Dakota Pageant, that scholarship money paid for an entire year of my college education and it gave the platform to go into my television career.”
As Grayse opens its doors to a new location in Fashion Island, Marie and Kelly Gray also opened their hearts to the Miss America Scholarship Foundation as well. The afternoon provided a delightful time to everyone who attended the event.
Kelly Gray described to The Hollywood 360 what it meant to be at the new location in Fashion Island.
“This new location is a dream. It’s an honor to have such a prestigious location in one of the best malls in the country. As we have embraced women that have been like-minded, that has helped us grow our fan base. This year feels like our coming out year, even though we’ve been in business for a while.”
The Hollywood 360 was invited to the Miss America Scholarship Foundation event by Christine Peake of the Peakprgroup, who handled the media and promotion of the event.
For more information regarding Grayse go to: www.mkgrayse.com
Photo Credit: Sheryl Aronson / The Hollywood 360