“I find happiness in beauty. If there’s no beauty, I’m not interested. I live for beauty.”
The creator of beautiful couture and the above quote, renowned designer Valentino, would have been happy with the fashionable folks at Wine & Design, a special pre-screening party for “Valentino, The Last Emperor” at the Stone Balloon Winehouse. Organized and co-hosted by Fashion Alliance of Delaware cofounder JoJami Tyler and interior designer Rose Giroso during the Newark Film Festival, the get-together allowed film and fashion fans to discuss both while enjoying wines specially selected by Winehouse manager Bill Galbraith.
“Single and ready to mingle” teased model Suzette LeMaitre Rudawsky of her gal pal, Carroll Laurence of Apropos PR and Protocol, who, though enjoying a goblet of big-girl grape juice, kept it all business. Carroll is throwing several fashion fetes of her own, the first, a designer-label wardrobe swap at The Pointe luxury condominiums in Wilmington, “And, yes, there will be design and wine,” tipped Carroll.
We found ourselves between model couple Amanda Moody, fresh to Delaware from Arlington, Texas, and her boyfriend Ryan Kopski—not a bad place to be. When not facing a photographer, Amanda works at Fieldstone Golf Club. Ryan is an engineer at Dassault Aviation. “The only way to fly,” Ryan said.
Inspired by the wine bar, remodelers Jack Jadach and Debbie Sweeny are redoing their kitchen. Collaborating on the Winehouse project with Rose and owner Jim Baeurle was Linda Daniels, who pointed out a few design features, such as stone columns, lofty glass-fronted cabinets for wine storage, and the mural-size world map on the mezzanine. Linda was a chef before she went to design school, so it’s no accident she specializes in restaurants. Her design strategy: “Start from the back of the house. A happy kitchen is a happy restaurant,” and, “Know an expert mason who looks like he’s in the band ZZ Top.” Let that be the last word on the first high style, Wine & Design pre-party at the Newark Film Festival. Roll film.
Page 2: As Elegant as Ever
This year Eleganza turned 20. With a winning formula of “black and white, simplicity and, of course, elegance,” organizers decided, “not to mess with success,” said Thomas “Tommy” Abel, who co-chaired the annual Ministry of Caring Guild fundraiser with Corinne Murphy and Tara Quinn. But there was one key change. “Now that we are 20 we did offer a second, lower-priced ticket option, Eleganza After Dark, so 20-somethings could skip the sit-down dinner and fashion show, but attend the dessert, dancing and gaming.
The Greenville Country Club’s stone and slate, hand-carved wood paneling and silk rugs certainly fit the bill. In the foyer, we met with Corinne, who was waiting for a dozen or so family members to arrive. Her husband, event treasurer John Murphy, stood at the ready to gratefully accept their donations. At one of several antique oak tables in the auction area, we bumped (literally) into Catherine Varallo with husband, Gregg Varallo, both 15-year members of the Ministry of Caring Guild.
At a silent auction table, Catherine admired a pair of stilettos from ViVi G. shoes. Noticing her choice of rather less exciting footwear (a black medical booty), we inquired. “I broke my foot while driving to avoid a deer and I thought I’d celebrate my healing with a new acquisition,” she said. Gregg nodded in approval of her sexy selection.
A little closer to the specially made room-long bar, manned by at least six bartenders in what is usually the club’s main parlor, we “overheard” the lovelies from NV Boutique, Erin Reynolds and Laura Tuoni, proclaiming to each other, “NV needs its own reality TV show.” Pray tell why? “Because you will either leave NV crying with joy or stay all day laughing with us,” they said. Watch out, “Project Runway.” Here comes NVTV.
Alison MacKenzie bemoaned her four “filled to the gills” walk-in closets, but didn’t think her husband would mind her bidding on the Carl Doubét Jr. Jeweler’s black-and-white diamond bracelet. “After all, it won’t take up much space,” Alison pointed out.
Dinner was served in a white tented room just through the parlor’s French doors. Gabby himself emceed the fashion show. All models were Miss, Missus, Mizz or Misters Delaware. Brother Ronald Giannone, executive director of Ministry of Caring, thanked one and all. Renee Mosely and DeWitt Smith spoke briefly of their appreciation for help lent them by the Ministry.
Part two, Eleganza After Dark, was all about chocolate. Knowing much more about house music than house rules, we decided to spin our money wheel on the dance floor with a few of our newest BFFFs (Best Fashionista Friends Forever), Cindy Wilkinson, Julie Anne Cross, Joan Sharp and Quinn.
Mr. Abel interrupted the fun with more fun, winners of the evening’s raffle item and grand prize. Glamorous gamers clutched floor-grazing length ticket strips to see if they’d won an item or—drum roll, please—a $5,000 Bank of America gift card. And the winner was Mary Anne Wozniak. Well done. Thank you, Ministry of Caring, for your compassion and dedication to the community for the past 32 years.
Page 3: A Crowning Achievement
The Queen is $24 million closer to being lit. That does not mean that HRH Elizabeth has purchased a new diamond-studded tiara. It means the Light Up the Queen Foundation, led by Bill Taylor, in one short year finished raising the capital to restore the historic theater in Wilmington.
Foundation members and guests celebrated with a kickoff party at The Exchange, where manager J. Anthony Miguez welcomed everyone warmly, hostess Lauren DeMarco modeled the freshly printed black Light it Up T-shirt, and mixologist Brandy Willever poured on the drinks and smiles.
Delaware native Taylor, formerly of the famous Tipitina’s music club in New Orleans, explained how $12 million in private donations were matched by federal and state historic landmark tax credits. Those funds will go toward not only the theater’s renovation, but also to the improvement of the 500 block of Market Street. “We plan to honor the cultural legacy of the city,” Taylor said.
He was excited about plans to create an interactive exhibit of original Queen articles— including the original movie projector—in the main lobby, as well as live musical performances and casual dining at Delaware’s own World Café. “A community clubhouse is what we are calling the ambience we are creating at The Queen,” Taylor said.
At the banquet, we met siren Nancy Josephson, who said her amazing knee-high embroidered boots from Turkey were “justification” for forming Angel Band. Nancy, wife of the legendary David Bromberg, had just returned from a gig in Dallas. “They loved us,” Nancy said. “Playing Dallas on Rosh Hashana was like playing a New Year’s Eve gig—packed.” Nancy left us with “L’Shana Tova, y’all” (Happy New Year, you all) then dashed off to meet the Angel Band crew for their performance. Guess those boots were made for walkin’—and gawkin’. Also performing on the double bill was award-winning blues artist Corey Harris. It looks like this Queen will showcase an excitingly eclectic mix of guests and performers.
“Eclectic” is a word Jeff Flynn and his pretty date, Marcy Mackey, might have used to describe their recent experience at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. “Three days is not enough,” said Jeff, deputy director of economics for the city and apparent culture hound. “We did yoga with hundreds of people.” Part-time summer blond Jackie Ivy of The Queen foundation confessed she was finally taking out her hair extensions. “I’m tired of playing Hannah Montana mama,” Jackie joked. “Unlike my hair, we want to keep The Queen the real deal without over renovating it.”
Mati Buccini is training to run in a team marathon for The Caterina Marcus Foundation for Hurler Syndrome. Last we spoke with her brother-in law, Rob Buccini, at DCAD’s student center dedication, he pointed out a few construction sites related to the Market Street renaissance. We asked if his Buccini/Pollin Group was still on schedule. “We are going to work through the economy to make this a true destination,” Rob said.
Food, music and an old Queen with a storied past—sounds like somewhere we’re destined to be. Until then, ciao for now. —The Gabby Guy