- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2009

Social Washington was a ghost town, of sorts, this past weekend with most of the movers and shakers fleeing the August stickiness for the fresh sea breezes of the Hamptons or Martha’s Vineyard. Yet those committed to the war-torn country of Pakistan and its people stuck around for a dinner and fundraiser at the Westin Arlington Gateway for the American Fund for Human Development Inc. (AFHD), an organization devoted to helping refugees displaced by the fighting in that nation’s North-West Frontier Province.

Among those attending were Dr. Nasim Ashraf, executive director, Center for Pakistan Studies, Middle East Institute; Miss D.C. 2006 Kate Michael (who despite being a keynote speaker was stuck with a parking fee); and former congressman Jim Moody (1983-1993), Wisconsin Democrat, who recently stepped down from his position as chair of the AFHD.

It was the typical ho-hum charity event — until the drama started thanks to Pakistani fashion designer Deepak Perwani, who headlined the event and wowed the crowd with a fashion show of his recent collection. (He’ll also be showing the designs in fashion capital of Milan later this month.)

At the evening’s end, Mr. Perwani offered up two of the outfits for the live auction to benefit the AFHD, to which he is strongly committed.

Either the crowd was tired, broke or unimpressed because the bidding was going nowhere, causing a painful silence in the Westin’s ballroom.

Finally, a woman on the front row made a bid for $1,000.

“Sold!”

Well, not quite.

Mr. Perwani appeared back onstage and expressed his indignation at the low bid, saying that he was going to up the ante by bidding $1,200 from his own pocket for the cause and forcefully admonished the crowd to get off their duffs and start bidding higher.

After all, earlier in the night, a cricket bat used by Shahid “Boom Boom” Afridi, winner of the 2009 World Cup, went for $5,100 in less than 10 minutes.

Hey, this is fashion we’re talking about, people, so get your priorities straight.

The original bidder then offered $1,300 and was finally announced as the winner of the peach-toned sparkly jacket with matching harem pants.

After the auction, G2 asked Mr. Perwani for his thoughts on what happened. He explained that because the costs of the rich fabrics are so expensive and the craftsmanship of his designs are so intricate, he was offended by the low bid, yet happy that his challenge to the crowd worked.

All’s well that ends well, we guess. The owner of the outfit will certainly have a great story to tell when she wears her new Perwani design to the next cocktail soiree.

James: ‘I’m a fan’

NBA superstar and Cleveland Cavaliers standout LeBron James ventured into what may be considered enemy territory on Friday (given the ongoing rivalry between the Washington Wizards and the Ohio ball club) when he hosted an event at Kastles Stadium in Northwest.

When asked what it was like to be in the District for a stop on his More Than a Game: The Tour — hosted by Mr. James in conjunction with Nike in support of “More than a Dream,” a documentary about Mr. James’ high school basketball team — the Cavaliers forward replied, “D.C. is a great city. We’re happy to be here.”

The film was screened during the press conference, which also showcased the release of Mr. James’ athletic footwear, the Air Max LeBron VIIs.

With so much sports talk being bandied about, Mr. James was queried for his take on the Philadelphia Eagles signing of former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who was recently released from jail after serving an 18-month sentence for his role in an illegal dogfighting ring.

“Oh, man. I think it’s great,” Mr. James replied. “I was very excited to see Michael Vick had got signed. I didn’t think it would take that long. If I owned an NFL franchise. I would have signed him the day he got reinstated.

“You know, much respect to him. He’s come a long way, and I see a bright future for him and I’m a fan of him. I’ve been a fan of Michael Vick for a long time, and I’ll continue to be a fan of Michael Vick because I like the way he plays the game of football. So I think he’s great for the game.”

We hope Mr. James doesn’t have any dogs.

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail undercover@washingtontimes.com.

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