Hollywood Bag Ladies Help Lupus LA

Hollywood Bag Ladies Help Lupus LA

News From Toni Braxton & Rachel Zoe At Lupus LA Bag Ladies Lunch


They called themselves “Hollywood Bag Ladies,” but it was actually a gathering of beautiful women in Beverly Hills for a cause at the 8th Annual Lupus LA Bag Ladies Luncheon.

Among the well-heeled gals were the event’s honorees, Grammy-winning singer Toni Braxton, and celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, star of Bravo’s The Rachel Zoe Project. Both were looking gorgeous and glowing– for different reasons. Toni was about to reveal that she has been battling Lupus, and it was a big relief to finally say it out loud. The singer was honored for her humanitarian efforts for charities including Lupus LA.

Rachel Zoe had some big news too. Well, maybe little, bitty, baby news. Wearing a loose-fitting empire black dress that couldn’t conceal her baby bump, plus her radiant glow, it was obvious that she was pregnant. And she confirmed that fact via Twitter later.

When Rachel accepted her Woman in Achievement award, she gushed praise for her husband Rodger Berman, who she credits with helping her achieve her dream of making an impact in the fashion world.

Other famous faces who gathered to raise awareness and money for Lupus LA were Morgan Fairchild (Chuck), Kimberly Elise (For Colored Girls), Rebecca Mader (Lost), Meredith Monroe (NCIS), Ali Hillis (Miami Medical), Shante Broadus (Snoop Dogg’s Fatherhood), Robin Antin (Pussycat Girlicious), and reality sweetheart Ali Fedotowsky from ABC’s The Bachelorette.

Kimberly Elise

Ali Fedotowsky

Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson was the event’s emcee and joked around with all the generous women about all the “guilt-free shopping. This luncheon allows women to go wild for luxurious handbags. And it’s okay, because it benefits a great cause.”

It was great to chat with Kimberly Elise at the event. After all the tragic characters she has played in the movies, such as Beloved with Oprah, it was a joy to see the award-winning actress flashing a beautiful smile and having so much fun. She got raves for the new Tyler Perry movie For Colored Girls, and said it was extremely tough emotional role for her, “but I worked with Tyler on Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which he wrote, and I’d do anything for him.” Now Elise is looking forward to shopping for the holidays.

Stunning blonde Julie Benz (from No Ordinary Family and Dexter) had fun “shopping” during the lively silent auction, bidding at the tables featuring coveted handbags donated by top designers and celebrities. It turned into a spirited free-for-all, with the ladies gently nudging others out of way as they went seeking the coveted handbags. “It’s like winning the lottery when you go home with the item you wanted,” Julie Benz told me. And, yes, she did “win” a fabulous handbag.

Julie Benz

The grand finale of the “Bag Ladies” lunch was an exclusive private showcase of Fendi’s Spring Collection. The fashion show delighted the hundreds of women who attended, including style mavens Lisa Gastineau and Brittny Gastineau, from the mom-daughter BFF reality show The Gastineau Girls.

Brittny Gastineau

Another event highlight was Toni Braxton’s acceptance speech. She started by announcing, “I have lupus. Take a look, this is what lupus looks like.” It was the first time she had acknowledged publicly that she is living with lupus.

Toni Braxton

In the crowd there were women who know how much courage it takes for Toni to battle the autoimmune disease, and they cheered the loudest for the honoree, along with Toni’s mother and sisters who were on hand. Braxton hopes to raise awareness of lupus, which is so often misdiagnosed. “Today I’m going to talk about it because I’m a survivor, and I don’t want to lose hope.” Braxton also has a heart problem, and has had other health issues, but no one could look lovelier while battling so fiercely.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.