Tie One On


The Red Tie Gala raises funds for Little Sisters of the Poor

In the dark of night, a long line of red formed out in front of Neiman Marcus. But this was no new dire economic indicator. Rather, it was a crowd of some 3,000 guests (dolled-up in all shades of red) clamoring to enter this emporium of excellence to celebrate the 25th Anniversary Red Tie Gala.

Founded by Yvonne Sangiacomo (with a longtime and loyal assist from Neimans), this biennial fundraiser benefits the Little Sisters of the Poor and their St. Anne's Home out on Lake Street.

The good sisters are a "begging order" and depend on the kindness of supporters and strangers to support this facility (founded in 1902) which cares for over 100 elderly residents and provides a day center and hot meals for low-income seniors.

And Yvonne (well recognized for her signature red glasses and great generosity to all) has long been the sister's greatest guardian angel.

Seated on stools and greeting the arriving guests were the order's Sister Mary Alphonsus and Sister Anthony.

"Are you just going to sit here all night and look pious?" teased Cal Shakes Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone, a loyal attendee of this gala which is also a gathering of old San Francisco peopled with folks whose names contain many, many vowels.

"No, we'll also say the rosary," said Sister Mary Alphonsus, laughing.

"Well, I have my dancing shoes on!" insisted Sister Anthony.

It was a big night for the gals, as they were also attending another gathering hosted by the Lafayette Club, where Rene Guiral donated $10K to their organization.

This swinging soiree (with live music by Dave Martin's House Party, Casino Royale, Pure Ecstasy, Starduster Orchestra) spreads out over each floor of the store and, this year, celebrated classic nightclubs -- from the Cotton Club, the Sands and the Roxy, to San Francisco's own Bimbo's 365 Club which was founded by Yvonne's father, Agostino "Bimbo" Giuntoli.

MeMe Pederson's Taste Catering served-up and corralled the themed and bounteous buffets (braised pork on buttermilk buns, crab cakes, pineapple meatballs, oysters and onwards) that were created by local restaurants and vineyards (including A16, Alioto's Restaurant, XYZ, PlumpJack Group, Epic Roasthouse, Marinus, Madeleine Wines and the Margarita King) and served at every step amid Neiman's glittering goods.

But in this crowd -- which one guest teased look like the cast from The Sopranos -- the Antipasto plate starring delectable prosciutto and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano (that's the real stuff, folks) was a-swarm all night long.

Awaiting the arrival of his wife, Angelo Sangiacomo, was right proud of her long and loyal association with the Little Sisters: "Her hard work on this event is amazing -- she's so dedicated to it, she even had the phrase, 'Red Tie Gala' trademarked!"

Yvonne calls the Sisters, "Her best friends."

"My life has been so wonderful and blessed -- from my husband and children, to my grandchildren," enthused Yvonne. "My mother and father raised me with the belief that if you are lucky in life, you must pass that luck and good fortune on to others."

But, according to Yvonne, the real heroes of the gala are the Little Sisters, themselves.

"They are up all hours of the night caring for their residents," Yvonne explained. "They are unsung heroes of San Francisco who serve those in-need. We are the lucky ones because of their work!"


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