THE FLORAL MAJORITY
Slip off those gardener’s gloves and leap into your formal wear. The preview party for the Philadelphia Flower Show remains a draw for avid locals, such as former governor Pete du Pont, who wandered around the terrariums, drink in hand. Pete’s wife, Elise du Pont, won a blue ribbon in that category. “She won a ribbon in half the categories she entered, but she didn’t think it was enough,” Pete said, as he searched for Elise among the ethereally dressed set at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philly. Not to worry. Both Pete and Elise had their cell phones handy, which makes losing your spouse in a crowd impossible.
Green thumb Kristine Qualls, who volunteers at the Delaware Center for Horticulture, attended with her businessman husband, Spencer Qualls, and their guests Marge and Bob Hackett of Hockessin. “I’ve been up there since the beginning, when it was mulch, dirt and scenery. I’ve seen it grow,” Kristine remarked of the show. (Was “grow” a pun?) As a hardworking committee member, Kristine was exhausted by the time drinks and the finger food were served but the foursome soldiered on for dinner at nearby Tangerine, anyway.
Veronica and Rick Lewandowski (he’s director of Mt. Cuba Center), attorney Dan and wife Kathy Kristol, and Nathan Hayward (a dinner benefactor, like the du Ponts) strolled around the daffodils, too. With the New Orleans theme of Jazz It Up, French Quarter-inspired arbors ranked as the show’s extravaganzas. We were equally impressed by the Delaware Estuary’s Mudflats, an environmentally correct display of a marsh, complete with cattails and wetland reeds.
ELTON JOHN VISITS DELAWHERE?
Tina and Pete Hayward were every inch the gracious hosts as they treated fortuitous friends to a private-room supper followed by Elton John’s stupendous concert at the Bob Carpenter Center. “Sixty for 60,” Tina explained—a reference to their number of guests and the fact that Pete had just turned 60, though Pete modestly denied that his milestone birthday played any role. State Representative Debbie Hudson, just back from a visit to Las Vegas, had dropped off an Elton John picture frame from the performer’s boutique in Vegas at the Haywards’ the day before. Lyn Doto of Wilmington donned oversized Elton John glasses and la-la-la’d to “Crocodile Rock.” Frolic
A SHOW OF STRENGTH
Xavier Teixido, owner of Harry’s Savoy Grill and Ballroom and Harry’s Seafood Grill, held up a flute sparkling with 1996 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame champagne and saluted this year’s triumphant Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation dinner. “We’ll probably hit the $50,000 mark,” he said, recalling last year’s whopping success at $47,000 and change. The weather couldn’t have been nicer for SOS’s 20th anniversary blast, which, on the national scale, is the largest culinary fundraiser dedicated to making sure no kid grows up hungry. Teixido’s sips were courtesy of the equally dapper Scott Phillips of Branmar Wine & Spirits.
The Savoy’s graciously appointed patio was scented by dazzling displays of irises, lilacs and hydrangeas, but even Delaware’s best-dressed humans were outdone by a better-dressed appetizer spread. “It just blows my mind,” Teixido said. “Even during these tough economic times, people come through. The hunger problem is complex. But feeding people should be easy. This event just makes sense.”
“Couldn’t agree more,” said Randall Burton, who has recently become business manager to his wife, Dr. Janice Tildon-Burton, former president of the Delaware Medical Society and popular OB/GYN at Christiana Care Health System. The doctor wasn’t in, but her charming hubby found the libations just fine. “The times are such that we can’t take things for granted,” Burton said. “At the same time, we’re forced to choose between events, and we happily chose this one.”
About 190 revelers reveled—the event sold out months prior—including Lloyd Wirshba, CEO of title sponsor Barclays. Not one to toot his horn, Wirshba looked fit in a blue stripe suit. “Barclays is a longtime friend of SOS,” he said. “We’re quite happy to be here.”
SOS was a veritable gastronomic walk of fame, with such notables hitting the chopping board as Bryan Sikora and Aimee Olexy of Talula’s Table in Kennett Square, Susan Spicer of Bayona in New Orleans and Galen Zamarra of Mas Farmhouse in New York City. Of course, host chef and Harry’s own David Leo Banks created the fabulously fresh raw bar packed with assorted sashimi and ceviches, oysters and clams. Robert Irvine, the former host of Food Network’s “Dinner: Impossible!” had just flown in from L.A. and needed to de-stress before serving sea scallops over potato garlic rissole, the fourth of the six-course feast. “I’m usually in some intense kitchen,” Irvine said. “It’s so calm tonight. No competition.”
Scads of beauties flocked to Irvine for photo ops while others scanned the silent auction table. Wilmington’s Annette Aerenson, audacious in a silk blue dress by Armani, said, “I’m here because I want to give back.” Her husband, Bob Aerenson, seemed too enamored of his lovely bride to comment. Former Harry’s staffer Karen Ini rocked tight black jeans, a silk black halter, big silver hoops and mega bangles from a trip to St. Martin, and pegged her get-up “ghetto fabulous.” Ini’s partner, Michael Kates, vice president of Philadelphia Trolley Works, is the family foodie. “If I’m in Philly, it’s Le Castagne,” he said. “If I’m here, it’s Harry’s.”
Enjoying the red was Newark landscape designer Sharon Salzstein, who looked fetching in a Sigrid Olsen skirt and Ann Taylor Loft sky blue blouse, but her Banana Republic necklace was the spectacle. “Actually, I took some of these extra jewels off and made them into earrings,” Salzstein said, brushing away her long blonde locks to display the lobes. CN8’s Andrea Eisenberg turned heads in a black Trina Turk number while Mark Wolfe of Wilmington’s Deldeo Builders, filled out his Jones New York suit rather nicely. Deldeo was a contractor on the ballroom job at Harry’s, so Wolfe feels a connection. “It’s great to be a part of one of the most important events of the year.”
Since 1984 SOS has raised more than $70 million for local organizations that provide food to those who need it. The Ministry of Caring and Food Bank of Delaware are this year’s recipients.
Dale Maahs, owner of Dale’s Shoetique in Greenville, wowed the crowds at her Design It Yourself handbag trunk show in April. Maahs, aglow in silver earrings by Joy Davis, pretty blue wrap top and Stuart Whitman sandals, frolicked around her breezy, light pink shop while catering to patrons and hosting fashion heavyweights Mary-Ann Keverian of Miss MAK Designs and Silvia Zumarraga of SZ Collection.
“Dale’s is it in Delaware,” said Zumarraga, who drove in from Lancaster. Keverian, who just arrived from Montreal, said, “Delaware is always a fun place to be.”
Delaware is profitable too, since Maahs was inundated with orders by day’s end. Both designers agreed that Dale’s bags are priced “so much less” than the same offerings in Europe and Canada. “Plus the fact that you get to design a bag yourself, people figure that’s worth a few extra hundred,” Keverian said.
Keverian’s line, consistently ahead of the curve, has two divisions: Miss MAK couture designs and Miss MAK urban designs, imports with more affordable prices for younger women. She happily explained how to distinguish the two. “Due Fratelli is mostly in numbers (as in 692 or 915) and Miss MAK is always a name like LeClutch or MiniClutch.”
Zumarraga is the talent behind SZ’s leather bags. In 2006 she became part of the glitterati when 500 of her Holiday bags were made for the premiere of the film, “The Holiday,” starring Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. Zumarraga also designed a private collection for Harrods in London.
Longtime customer Rosemarie Singer of North Wilmington popped in wearing open-toe Cole Haan sandals that showed off a pedicure courtesy of Jo Chau Nguwen of Chez Nicole, plus a brown Joseph Ribkoff jacket from Claire’s Fashions in Wilmington. Singer was eyeing a compartmentalized bag from the SZ Collection, “something like my Cole Haan that can carry my nine pounds of garbage.” Singer ended up scoring bags from both designers. Ta-ta, ’til next time.