By Shaun Ryan
Thursday, June 17, was a night of fashion for a good cause as The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach and Dr. Arun Gulani of The Gulani Vision Institute presented “Bespoke on the Boulevard.”
The event featured Gulani’s personally re-designed and curated selection of gently used men’s and women’s suits collected from local business leaders and philanthropists to benefit area artists and veterans who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The high-quality suits will prove beneficial to recipients as they attend job interviews.
The event also generated funding for the Wounded Warrior Project and its partner agencies.
More than 50 people participated in the occasion including local dignitaries, volunteers, donors and men and women from the arts community along with residents and clients from the Five Star Veterans Center and Northeast Florida Women Veterans Inc. The nonprofits specialize in assisting veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, depression, anxiety and related issues. The common goal for the veterans is training and programs that focus on re-integration into society and the civilian workforce.
A special suit purchase and presentation was made by attorney Chris Wynne, managing director of MountainStar Capital and a Cultural Center board of directors member and representative of The Lazzara Family Foundation, key supporters of the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach. Wynne procured and presented the new, custom-made suit to benefit Lee Giat of Jacksonville, CEO of Ostrich Media Inc.
Giat is founder of Providing Aid in Science for South America’s General Education. The not-for-profit was created from Giat’s Flying Ostrich Fund. Giat is also a 22-year-old graduate of the University of North Florida.
In all, 50 people received suit donations either in person or, in cases where the recipient could not attend, by intermediary. The event was held at The Gulani Vision Institute, 8075 Gate Pkwy. W., Suites 102 and 103, Jacksonville.
“It was fabulous,” said Donna Guzzo, president and executive director of the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach. She called the event a very memorable evening for the suit recipients.
Known as the “da Vinci” of eye surgery, Gulani is founding director and chief eye surgeon of the Gulani Vision Institute, where he has pioneered NextGen LASIK and custom cataract surgery with patients from around the world.
With more than 30 years of experience, Gulani is the founder of breakthrough technologies and award-winning inventions, research, publications and protocols establishing the world’s first cataract surgery spa in Jacksonville as a global destination.
In addition to his medical practice, Gulani has been called “Dr. GQ” for his global fashions and exotic fabrics. He maintains a fashion design studio in Jacksonville, and his creations include the men’s and women’s business suits for the fundraiser.
The concept of “Bespoke on the Boulevard” originated during the planning of this year’s Beaches — A Celebration of the Arts annual fundraising event held on May 23 at The Surf Club Patio at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. That event raised $81,000 to support educational programs at The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach and included a fashion show curated by Gulani.
At the June 17 event, those who received the new suits had an opportunity to model them on the red carpet during a fashion show of their own. Violin and cello players provided music for the event, and artists gave live demonstrations of their painting, adding to the ambiance.
The featured artist was Charlotte Chastain.
“It was really cool that she agreed to do that for free,” said Guzzo, “and people just loved looking at her art.”
The Cultural Center serves as a gathering place to learn, experience and appreciate the arts and culture in its many forms. It provides opportunities for adults, children and families through classes, exhibits, programs and music therapy services for children with special needs.