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Toddler's birthday party at Neiman's, opera shopping at Valentino & Joanne Herring's NY summit

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Tony Petrello and Lynn Wyatt at the Houston Grand Opera luncheon at Valentino in the Galleria. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
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Valerie Deiterich, from left, Heather Pray and Janae Tsai at he HGO luncheon. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
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Joanne King Herring just back from a whirlwind trip to New York. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
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Sophie Dickson celebrates her third birthday with and Pooka at Neiman Marcus.  Photo by Priscilla Dickson
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Karen Bradshaw with her daughter, Ariel, at the Neiman Marcus birthday party. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
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Valentino flew in gowns from New York for informal modeling during the HGO luncheon. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
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Donna Bruni, left, and Beth Madison at Valentino. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
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Denise Bush Bahr, left, and Barbara LeGrange at Valentino. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
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Eileen Hricik, from left, Olga Bush and Sylvia Sullivan at the HGO luncheon in the Valentino boutique. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
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The Ladies Who Lunch for Worthy Causes had a special treat in the Valentino boutique in the Galleria on Friday. As disappointed as they were that Houston Grand Opera Ball chair Cynthia Petrello couldn't attend the HGO luncheon due to family illness on the East Coast, her charming husband, Tony Petrello, stepped in. More than adding a touch of masculine verve to the proceedings, Tony spoke eloquently on the importance of opera in a contemporary world and on the benefits of shopping on this day.

"It's good for you. It's good for the beautiful accessories and it's good for the opera," he quipped about the shopping opportunity. Indeed, Valentino was slicing 10 percent off the price tags and donating 10 percent of related purchases made all week to HGO. 

In a more serious vein, he said, "Creativity is the currency of the 21st century," adding that the art form of opera makes one aware of all aspects of life and gives one the tools for understanding thereby making opera "vital to the overall well-being of civilization."

The Petrellos chair the April 14 Houston Grand Opera Ball, a white-tie-and-tails affair celebrating Italy. Among the lunching ladies sure to be in their finest gowns for the evening were HGO board chair Beth Madison, HGO spceial events chair Donna Bruni, Lynn Wyatt, Denise Bush Bahr, Diane Lokey Farb, Sylvia Sullivan, Eileen Hricik, Sofia Adrogué, Omana Abraham, Barbara Van Postman and Birgit Van Wijk. The younger contingent included Heather Pray, Valerie Dieterich and Janae Tsai.

Joining the Daily Beast's Women in the World Summit

That would be Joanne King Herring and her sidekick Posey Parker, who made a quick trip to New York last last week for day one of the three-day summit at Lincoln Center. The duo hobnobbed with the 2,000 attendees, getting up-close-and-personal with summit host Tina Brown, Daily Beast editor-in-chief, and with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who told Joanne that she had discussed the Marshall Plan Charities with summit speaker Angelina Jolie

While at the conference, they also met up with designer Diane Von Furstenberg, a long-time pal.

On Friday, the Houstonians lunched at the restaurant in the private Colony Club with Sharon Loeb, bride of former Ambassaor to Denmark John Loeb. That afternoon, they popped into Fox News headquarters on Avenue of the Americas for a visit with Joanne BFF Roger Ailes, Fox News CEO. On the table — talk of both a movie and a TV series based on Joanne's book Diplomacy and Diamonds

Partying NM style

Few grown-up gals and certainly even fewer wee ones get to celebrate their birthdays in Neiman Marcus, but mark one up for Sophie Dickson, who celebrated her third birthday with high tea in Neiman's children's department. Mom, society photographer Priscilla Dickson, hosted the afternoon fete that included special guest Pooka Bruni, the glam standard poodle belonging to Donna and Bob Bruni. (You might remember that Pooka was the prize-winning pooch at the 2010 Citizens for Animal Protection Celebrity Paws Gala.)

Putting on the birthday spread for the party girl was Mariposa restaurant manager Lawrence Fogarty, recently transferred from the San Francisco Neiman's. He even created a special filet dish for Pooka. For the two-legged partygoers, Fogarty served lemonade in demitasse cups and covered the petite tables in Dylan's candy. On the party menu — cupcakes, birthday cake and all manner of sweets.

Celebrants included Karen Bradshaw, Ariel Bradshaw, Cynthia Parish, Doris Dickson, Addison Torres and more.

Sight 'ems

A very wealthy and very happy Houston Texan Arian Foster and friends in the lounge at Philippe on Thursday celebrating his just-signed, 5-year, $43.5-million contract to stay with the Texans. Philippe veep of operations sent out champagne on the house for a major toast . . .

The house packed at Tony's on Saturday where at various tables we spotted Margaret Williams and Jim Daniel dining with Dr. Kelli Cohen-Fein and Martin Fein, Lisa and David Greenberg with Dr. Fred Aguilar and at another table Sheridan and John Eddie Williams dining with friends.

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