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SO GRAND, IT NEVER ENDS

This is our second after-party for The Grand Gala, so we know which Hotel du Pont entrance to use, which security guard to acknowledge, where to check our coat without a wait, and where to find lens man Ben Fournier, who recently shot a portrait of Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg and Ellen Kullman, the first woman CEO of DuPont. Ben captured them on the sweeping marble staircase leading to the glittery Gold Ballroom, which is where we chatted with architect Buck Simpers and wife, Mary. Did they enjoy the Brian Setzer Orchestra show earlier at The Grand Opera House? “So much, especially the three-piece rock portion,” said Mary. “It was so alive it was a shame to have to sit still. What if they had played here in the ballroom?” Mary wondered. Mr. Simpers passed the Buck.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra may not have played the hotel, but they did play in the hotel. With help from the Grand’s director of administration, Christine Molino, we spied several members of the big, big band mingling, tingling and jingling with other revelers. Near the bar, draped with gold damask, we twirled Twizzlers with photographer-graphic designer Sara Tweddle-Davenport while waiting for her own cool cat, musician and hubby, Kevin Davenport, to return from a run to the raw bar. We instantly inquired about her new super-short, banged bob. “It took two trips to Michael (Christopher),” Sara said. “I’ve been going to him since I was 13. He didn’t believe how severe I wanted to go.” We’re guessing Sara’s attending her first Grand Gala had something to do with the sassy-yet-sophisticated new coif. Kevin appeared to respond favorably, returning with a full plate of raw oysters and a sly grin.

Anybody got a Zig? Sorry, no. We don’t smoke. It interferes with gabbing with the smoking hot Zig Carota, one half of the Greenville Giving Group. Zig wore a long silk tunic by Carolyn Roehm in Kelly green over black pencil slacks, which bunched at the ankle straps of her black Manolo Blahnik patents. Ziggy wears clothes well, but she also wares them well. Greenville Giving Group raises money for several women’s non-profits, including the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, which, with GGG, will open a wardrobe resale shop at the DBCC center soon. We also met Zig gal pal and GGG half No. 2 Stacey Bacchieri, who followed two of the season’s top trends, wearing feathers and paillettes, both in black, to embellish a cashmere dress.

Back in the ballroom lobby, near the somewhat quieter though no less crowded sushi bar, we rolled with California style. Delebrity couple Marcy Mackey and Wilmington councildude Jeff Flynn knocked us up with two big Gabby gets: First, they are expecting and, second, they are engaged. Which came first? Jeff bought the 2-carat, D-grade, Princess-cut diamond at A.R. Morris before they received the other good news, “but not by much” Jeff said. The future Mrs. Flynn, a Pilates hottie with yo-gaga legs, looked beach ready, baby. The couple threw a private dinner party at Dan Butler’s Deep Blue restaurant to announce the news.

We also strolled with another hip young couple who were just a few months further down the matrimonial marble mile, the recently married Brian Wild and Gina Cipolloni-Wild of Arden. We had noticed that the Wilds where on the edge of their velvet seats during the concert, bopping without stopping and looking like they’d like to have torn up the aisle carpet. Having phulfilled their phandango phix thanks to Club Phred, we all opted for a breather downstairs in the hotel’s Grill room, where the music, lighting and vibe were more laid-back.

Literally. We reclined on padded massage tables while the masterful Sybarites face painters swirled their brushes over our cheeks and chins. Gina called it “an artistic spa treatment.” The only slightly jarring aspect of being painted by Sybarites and drinking too much bubbly is waking up, then staring at your varied visage in the bathroom mirror as memories of the evening pour from a magnum bottle: champagne, rockabilly and big band swing, seafood, sequins, friends, strangers, and a mini-dessert bar longer than the Setzer mega-set. It’s then that you catch yourself telling your reflection, “Boy, I had a grand time.”

Page 2: Gabby, continues…

 

A MUTTS-DO HAPPY HOUR

Holistic health practitioner, clay sculptor and pet owner Alexandra Malone invited us to a recent Faithful Friends’ bouncing happy hour. This Martinis for Mutts (and cats) happened at the Big Fish Grill on the Wilmington Riverfront. The group, a no-kill animal shelter, netted about 40 friends—each faithfully donating $10—at the bar by baiting them with cheesy bites and fresh-fish finger foods. Guests schooled under the eatery’s decor of “swimming” blue fish, marlins, and yummy yellow fins. “My three cats, Kung Pao, Jet, and Zeebo, would have loved it,” said Faithful Friend volunteer and City Theater Company board member Connie Stenger.

Connie impressed upon us, as many of the Friends did, the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Friend and CPA Stephanie DeLucia reiterated by telling us about the organization’s Pit Stop program, which offers free spaying and neutering to counter the negative image of the pit bull breed. “They are strong-willed but not aggressive,” Stephanie assured us. “All they want to do is please people.”

Sharing in our canine convo was Friends treasurer Bob Wasserbach. “It’s a great group,” he told us. “It improves the life of so many animals and people.” Bob made special mention of the Pet Therapy program, which takes pets into hospitals for some mutual sharing and caring time with patients.

We asked director of volunteers Shannon O’Neill for her thoughts on Michael Vick. “I am glad the Eagles are making very public anti-cruelty efforts,” she said. “Pit bulls—or any dog—can’t speak up for themselves. Faithful Friends is their voice, and with sensitivity and love they can be rehabilitated.” Dog department manager Jamie Lay, chair of the Martinis for Mutts nights, raised her Muttini in full agreement, as did development director Arlene Boles. Arlene, a nonprofit warrior for 30 years, joined Faithful Friends in May. “They are without a doubt the most mission-focused association I’ve been involved with,” she said. That must have been purring praise to the ears of executive director Jane Pierantozzi. “It is unacceptable to kill 13,000 to 15,000 animals a year in Delaware,” Jane said. She reminded us that a 2006 state law requires all Delaware shelters to spay and neuter all animals before adoption. She would love to see a statewide no-kill law.

Let’s hope more than the dogs (and cats) heard her. Ciao for now.

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