Skip navigation

Calls to Action

James Brown Performs Autism Benefit

Ermenegildo Zegna and Italian Trade Commission Sponsor Benefit for NAAR and CCCD
April 23, 2007

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, lended a helping hand to autism research and education at the re-opening of the newly refurbished Mitchell's of Westport, CT on Friday, September 19.

This extraordinary event was chaired by NAAR supporter and autism advocate Richard Cohen, president and CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna, and raised approximately $110,000. Proceeds of the event benefited the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and the Connecticut Center for Child Development (CCCD).

NAAR thanks all who participated and supported this extraordinary event, especially Mr. Cohen and his wife, Laurie, who play a leading role in raising funds and awareness for autism research, education and services.

Jim Nantz of CBS Sports served as emcee for the festivities. The celebration was sponsored by Ermenegildo Zegna and the Italian Trade Commission.

Along with cocktails and hors d' oeuvres, participants had the opportunity to view a fashion show with looks from top designers such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Armani Collezioni, Giorgio Armani Black Label, Loro Piana, Luciano Barbera, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and more.

The evening culminated with a performance by the Grammy-winning singer.

The James Brown event at Mitchell's was covered by Southern Connecticut Newspapers. The story is listed below.

James Brown stars in fund-raiser at store's reopening celebration

By John Nickerson, Staff Writer

WESTPORT -- America's Godfather of Soul, James Brown, kicked off a grand reopening fund-raiser last night for upscale haberdasher Mitchell's of Westport.

The "hardest working man in show business" appeared with his band, the Soul Generals, before about 600 people who paid between $100 and $300 to see Soul Brother No. 1 leg kick and shimmy his way through hit after hit after hit.

Opening with "Make It Funky" and leg skating his way into "Get Up Offa That Thing," Brown worked up a sweat. But in trademark style, he shrugged off a brilliant sequined cape that was put prematurely around his shoulders and continued on with the fast-paced show.

The party, held inside a huge white tent, celebrated the remodeling of Mitchell's 27,000-square-foot Post Road store and to raise funds for autism research and local children suffering from the affliction.

Before Brown could do a flying split or knee drop, an auction was held that raised just over $75,000 for the Connecticut Center for Child Development in Milford and the Greenwich-based National Alliance for Autism Research.

The auction featured dream vacations, sports outings and tickets to the hottest fashion shows in New York. A trip to see an Italian regatta and a stay in Florence with lunch at the Villa I Collazzi, designed by Michelangelo, fetched the highest bid of the auction at $22,500.

Jack Mitchell, whose father, Ed Mitchell, opened the family's first clothing store in Westport in 1958, said the fund-raiser for autism was held because his family has been touched by the developmental disability caused by a neurological disorder in the brain.

"We try to give to a lot of organizations and autism is becoming ever increasing. There are more autistic kids than before and nobody knows why," Mitchell said.

The party featured hors d'oeuvres and an open bar, and prominent clothing designers such as Jiorgio Canali and Joseph Abboud were in attendance.

Ed Mitchell's grandson, Scott, said his family loves to throw a party. If they weren't in the clothing business, they'd love to be in the party business, he said.

"It's all about fun and all about giving something back," Scott said.