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Arts Social intercourse

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Models bare their, um, souls to Cavalli and families that tipple together stay together

This is unquestionably one of the busiest times of the year. In addition to family activities and holiday celebrations, it is peak party season. So, let’s not waste any more ink and get right to it.

The event still on everyone’s lips is the Roberto Cavalli fashion show presented by Saks Fifth Avenue and benefiting Arts San Antonio and Treehouse Day Program. Nearly 500 society-types from San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Dallas poured into the Municipal Auditorium for the spectacular evening. The aging city facility was transformed into a beauty queen. Swanky lounges were created at each end of the wide foyer, and the cavernous auditorium proper was nearly unrecognizable amid the soaring drapery in the ceiling and the sumptuously decorated table settings below.

Signore Cavalli held court while socialites from all the strata jockeyed for position and an opportunity to say hello. I did my fair share of elbow-throwing early in the evening and had a chance to chat with the design impresario. He’s an amiable man, a bit shorter and more haggard than I imagined, but he exudes that intangible je ne sais quois nonetheless. He politely shed his ubiquitous shades to look me dead in the eye while we talked, and then later donned them again as if on cue.

Cavailli’s mystique must come with its own set of pheromones, as fellow guests June Wormsely, features editor for the San Antonio Express-News, photographer Paul Overstreet and numerous others were treated to a sideshow of sorts. Two very blonde and decidedly ambitious models put on an enticing show for Cavalli, clearly hoping to win his, um, favor. Alas, their dreams were dashed, but they did go home with autographs.

Other faces spotted in the crowd included Donna Bruni and Rheatha Miller, who were honored as Women of Distinction; Mary Hogan, development director for Northeast Baptist Hospital; Rod Rubbo, executive director of theFund, and his wife, Cathy; Palmira Arellano, vice president of Public Relations for Methodist Health System and an Arts San Antonio board member; and Joyce Yang, the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition’s Silver Medalist and one of the most delightful people to chat with. With regard to the guests, the million-dollar question is still: “Who’s that girl?” If anyone knows the name of the stunning brunette, a guest of Cavalli’s, who was wearing a 2006 Spring Collection dress, let me know. Even the powers-that-be weren’t sure who she was.

While the Cavalli event was the highlight of recent weeks, it was by no means the only soiree on the calendar. For six glorious days, the New World Wine & Food Festival presented a slate of events that had gourmands and oenophiles salivating like Pavlovian canines. As I read through the events listing I mused, “Just how many Weight Watchers points would THAT dinner consume?!”

Other obligations prohibited me from attending as many of the festivities as I would have liked, but I did get to enjoy the festival’s Sunday shindig, Totally Tejas, presented by H-E-B at Rio Cibolo Ranch. Doubling as Mrs. San Antonio that afternoon, I, my husband, and all of my daughters wandered among the vendors to sample their wares. After marveling at the numerous pecans decorating the grounds and stashing a few in their pockets, the girls enjoyed Promised Land Dairy’s strawberry milk and Nutella on crackers from Whole Foods Market, while Joe and I tasted several Texas wines that were downright good, including a pinot grigio from San Marcos’ own Twin Oaks Winery. I was surprised at the sheer numbers of wines available for tasting, and had I not been wearing my tiara, I definitely could have tied one on that afternoon. I ran into fellow writer Julia Rosenfeld, who, under a pseudonym, writes regular food features for a regional publication that shall remain nameless. Unfortunately, she confirmed my worst fear: I missed a ton of fun during the week. So, next year — obligations be damned! — I will attend more.

Wrapping up in style — and all fashionistas should take note — was the grand opening celebration of Carissa, a new Alamo Heights boutique owned by Carly Hitchcock and Aresa Armstead. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re wrong. There is room for one more boutique and you can afford its clothes. Really. I’ve been there, and even someone with my meager income can afford a little something. Well, maybe not the brown, velvety Wendy Hil jacket, but the celery green blazer is a mighty nice second choice.

By Beverly Ingle


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