What: Salute to Retail 2015 Luncheon.
Where: River Oaks Country Club.
The scoop: A stellar line-up of Houston luminaries were honored for their contributions to the city's retail scene. Legendary designer Victor Costa, a University of Houston alum, was presented the Legends Award, and instead of the traditional thank you speech, he sang his gratitude, accompanied by a pianist on a baby grand piano.
Other honorees included Elizabeth Anthony owner Julie Phillips Roberts, IW Marks jewelry retailers Brad and Joanna Marks, fashion show producers Tamara Klosz Bonar and Lenny Matuszewski, Kuhl-Linscomb design store owners Pam Kuhl-Linscomb and Dan Linscomb, and Joanne and Welcome Wilson, Sr., who were honored with the Community Service Award.
The spacious country club foyer was filled with gowns designed by Costa, several for Houstonians, including wedding gowns for Roz Pactor and Georgene Brandon. In an era of the TV hit Dynasty, the designer was known for recreating haute couture looks at bargain prices. "Victor has been called 'The King of the Copycats,' but he's a true original," Pactor told the crowd.
Boisterously cheering Matuszewski on were a table of models who modeled with him back in the '80s when he — and they — were top Houston models of their day. Model agency owner Page Parkes led the cheers.
More than $200,000 was raised from the luncheon, which takes place every two years to raise funds for the Merchandising Star Award Endowment, which was established in 2004 to support UH's College of Technology, provides scholarships for students in the Retailing and Consumer Science Program. UH students Betty Dominguez, Amanda Garza, Sydney Gerbracht and Rak'esh Salian were honored as this year's recipients. In a video, Kuhl-Linscomb owners bragged that the store had more than 25 employees who are UH grads.
Who: In the crowed of more than 300 were co-chairs Penny Loyd and Donna Vallone, UH Dean of the College of Technology William E. Fitzgibbon and Jan Fitzgibbon, Rose Cullen, Jerry Ann Woodfin Costa, Joan Pillow, Kelly Cohen Fein, Linda Kuykendall, Shelley Taylor Ludwick, Jeanne Ruberti, Robert Sakowitz, Merle Yarborough and Susan Glesby.