Arts Social intercourse

Mrs. San Antonio steps into the white (hot) shoe debate

I had to pinch myself: The center of Saks Fifth Avenue had morphed into a quasi-nightclub complete with thumping music, free-flowing Grey Goose and a dancing general manager. It was the closing scene of the venerable store's 20th-anniversary gala last Friday. General Manager Bobby Dees had to grab the microphone and bid everyone a good evening, a suave alternative to "Go home!" The chic, redesigned store provided the perfect backdrop for a traveling collection of beaded and bejeweled clutches from Judith Leiber, Moo Roo bags, and $45,000 chinchilla coats.

With so many drinks, delectable tapas, and chocolate-covered strawberries swirling through the store - often amid racks of clothing with price tags that eclipse my monthly mortgage payment - my husband and I wondered when the post-party, "as-is" sale would ensue. At one point I stood, mouth agape, as a gentleman used a pristine white leather bench as a cutting table for a piece of beef.

The main attraction for the event, which benefitted the Children's Cancer Research Institute, was the dynamic designing duo of Mark Badgley and James Mischka, with whom I had the good fortune of enjoying a private audience. A few minutes of chit-chatting about their stay at Hotel Valencia, their favorites pieces from their spring line, and the changes they've seen in the San Antonio fashion scene led me to a burning question: "What do you think of white shoes?" With a sly grin, Mischka suggested that white tennis shoes are fine. And while Badgley mentioned that they occasionally will design a strappy white sandal, he said white pumps are just horrible. I whooped "Yes!" as he validated a belief I've held for decades.

Circulating among the well-heeled crowd was Saks' President and Chief Operating Officer Andrew Jennings, who held the party line well - and quite charmingly - when asked about San Antonio's ability to support two high-end retailers. Also spotted enjoying themselves were Senator Jeff Wentworth, twin political stars Julián and Joaquin Castro, University of Texas Health Science Center faculty member Dr. Richard Brzyski, fashion maven Jeannette Longoria, and San Antonio Express-News fashion reporters Michael Quintanilla and Jeanie Tavitas-Williams.

Admittedly, this party will be quite memorable for me - not only for how well it went, and many kudos to Christen Godwin, Saks' PR director, for a flawless event - but also because it was my first official appearance as Mrs. San Antonio 2006. (Yep, I was the one in the tiara.)

Gemini Ink recently presented its Autograph Series Luncheon, with novelist Mary Gordon as the honoree. The estrogen-dominant event offered wonderful dramatic readings of Gordon's work as selected by Rosemary Catacalos, executive director of the literary organization, as well as readings by Gordon herself. Most interesting were my table mates, several students from Gemini Ink's University Without Walls who were treated to the event by a generous benefactor who - much to my chagrin - insisted on remaining anonymous. The students pursue various literary genres in their studies, and I was impressed in particular with Weaver Sjolander, whose long-term research and planning made me sure that I suffer from adult ADHD.

Also of note was last weekend's International Accordion Festival in La Villita. With children in tow, my husband and I headed to the squeezebox event, fully anticipating the sounds of Conjunto with which we are familiar. Accompanying the familiar strains we heard something unexpected ... the sounds of French Canadian and Zydeco music. We stayed for a bit, our ears loving the distinctive chords and our eyes feasting on our children's joy while they danced. We were a bit bummed that the performers - members of Le Vent du Nord and Rosie Ledet and the Zydeco Playboys - spoke about the roots of the music as much as they played. Our children's attention spans soon waned, and we headed off for home having had a great time actually seeing a hurdy gurdy in action.

By Beverly Ingle

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