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Sareh Nouri Designer: Blue Hydrangea

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Style For a Cause

Mixing fashion, fun and philanthropy

“Fashion is a great communicator,” says Leslie Patrizio, a fashion event planner and owner of Style Matters with Leslie Patrizio. “It's a wonderful vehicle to bring people together and to raise money for organizations.”

One of these organizations is Family and Children's Services, Inc. (FACS), a non-profit in Elizabeth that provides critical services such as mental health counseling, parenting classes, life skills and more. In May, FACS held its Annual Red Carpet Party fundraiser at the Canoe Brook Country Club in Short Hills and raised $125,000, which will allow FACS to provide services to a wider range of people in need.

“I created this event 11 years ago,” she says. “It was right around the time of the Oscars, and I thought, ‘Wouldn't it be fun to have a red carpet party?’”

The first year, she held the party at a boutique in Millburn and invited 50 of her friends. “We did this small event in the store, and we served champagne and had friends and high school girls as models. We also did a little auction.”

The party was such a hit that Leslie decided to do it every year. “The following year, the event was held at the Short Hills Hilton, and then it outgrew that space. It was then held at the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park, but we soon outgrew that space as well.” Since then, it’s been held at either Canoe Brook or Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park.

“We sold out last year,” says Leslie. “We sold out this year two to three weeks prior to the event, which was fantastic, and hosted over 240 people. I bring in designers from New York, but also work with local boutiques. I still have local high-school girls as well as professional models volunteer to walk the runway.”

Gowns from well-known bridal and eveningwear designer, Sareh Nouri, have appeared in the fashion show numerous times. Nouri’s dress, Blue Hydrangea, was the finale and a real showstopper. A true ballgown, it’s perfect for the fanciest summer party.  

The Red Carpet Party is also well-known for is its handbag raffles. “When we started, we had one handbag and I realized how excited every woman was about winning that handbag.”

This year, they had about 32 donated handbags. Over the years, they’ve auctioned handbags from Louis Vuitton, Versace, Michael Kors and Kate Spade. There is also one extra-special handbag offered. This year it was a gorgeous Yves Saint Laurent bag; other years it's been Chanel. Participants put tickets in the bag they want to win.

Leslie adds, “We also do a silent auction and have had everything from an Eli Manning signed football jersey to jewelry, shoes, restaurant gift certificates and golf outings.”

What really brings in the most money though are the sponsors. “The one thing to take away from this event is that people are generous, kind and thoughtful,” she says. “The success of this event is the giving back from the community.”

Mark Manigan, CEO and president of RWJBarnabas Health, was the honorary chair this year, and RWJBarnabas Health was the runway sponsor.

Leslie also hosts fundraisers for other non-profits such as the Diabetes Foundation, and produced the Red Dress Fashion Show for American Heart Month in February (all the models were heart attack or stroke survivors) as well as the Hunterdon Health Care Fashion Show. 

If you want to join in the fun, go to  

  • Leslie Patrizio & Mark Manigan, CEO and President of RWJBarnabas Health
  • Leslie Patrizio
  • Sareh Nouri Designer: Blue Hydrangea
  • Sareh Nouri's, Blue Dress
  • Summit Fire Department Model