Arts Social intercourse

Fashion comes to San Antonio in a series of parties worthy of Diane von Furstenburg

If San Antonio had a Fashion Week, the last fortnight of August would have been it, sans the white tents and paparazzi. From haute couture to wearable art, I saw it all, beginning with Neiman Marcus' fall-fashion preview at Silo. Although the bar was packed, the party felt intimate, with Neiman Marcus' VP and General Manager Tom Wensinger, public relations maven (and former Express-News fashion editor) Emily Spicer, and corporate-relations guru Ken Downing circulating and chatting with the guests, including Rosanna Leeper of bRILLIANT magazine, photographer Morris Goen, and Catharine Whittenburg, owner of anniegoglyn. The parade of gorgeous models wove its way through the crowd, giving everyone a close-up view of tweeds, metallics, flashes of purple, patterned stockings, and more. When an amazing pair of 4-inch, bejeweled stilettos passed by (they had to have been Giuseppe Zanottis), I lost my train of thought.

A lot of the same crowd showed up for bRILLIANT's soiree at Medusa. Celebrating the magazine's "hot" August issue, the glittering assembly included Richard Veliz and his wife Carla, who owns Fuzion, artist Chuck Ramirez, and rising-star shoe designer Nicole Brundage. Also spotted was Express-News society columnist Ed Tijerina. I learned the turn-out was well more than expected, with the bar tab exceeding expectations by the thousands.

The Chanel fall fashion show presented by Saks Fifth Avenue and benefitting the San Antonio Children's Museum was a much more formal to-do. Chanel's latest fashions glided down an elevated runway that served to make the already amazingly tall models seem downright Amazonian. Not-so-subtle comments - both public and aside - made it clear that Chanel had its collective fingers in every pot during the event planning, and what Chanel wants, Chanel gets. More than 300 of San Antonio's leading ladies were in attendance, including former Mayor Lila Cockrell, philanthropist Tracy Wolff, the event's honoree, and scores of Junior Leaguers that I know by sight, but not by name. Everyone took home a goodie bag containing a bottle of Coco and a shimmering Chanel lip gloss. I hear guests that ponied up for the $2,500 tables also received a pair of Chanel glasses.

Wearable art took over the runway at the San Antonio Ethnic Arts Society's second-annual luncheon. An organization of just 12 local artists and one curator, SEAS's presentation included two gorgeous necklaces crafted from authentic Nigerian beads and medallions, which earned collective gasps of appreciation among the audience. Sculptural and framable art completed the show, including a particulary tempting print by Ronney Stevens entitled "Aunt Honey and Big Mama."

A VIP reception for Disney's Broadway production of The Lion King drew nearly 500 guests for a little history and a smidgen of live performance. I hear that The Lion King is sold out already, yet group-sales representatives were active and the crowd was filled with tourism-industry folks that could influence group business. Anne Moses was there in her new role as Director of Catering at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. I also rubbed elbows with Julie Fish, the COO of the San Antonio Symphony, Debbie Gonzales from the Sheraton Gunter, and a platoon of reps from the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

By far, one of the most enjoyable events of August was a Reisling wine tasting dinner at Biga on the Banks. Chef Bruce Auden paired six perfectly crafted courses with a delicious array of Reislings from Zilliken, a centuries-old winery in Germany's Saar Valley. Vintner Hanno Zilliken was on hand to discuss our selections and receive heaping praise from such notables as Marie and Andrew Weissman, who, I overheard, will make his next venture a wine bar somewhere in Monte Vista. I was disappointed that I couldn't recall any of my college-level German with which to converse with Hanno, but after a remarkable 1989 Spätlese, I was doing well to recall my native English.

By Beverly Ingle

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