Shelby's Social Diary
With palm trees swaying in the breeze of the air-conditioning of the Omni Houston Hotel ballroom and with booties shaking it up on stage, the Houston International Festival Mayor's Gala vibrantly launched the two-weekend iFest extravaganza of international music, food and related entertainments that rockets into action beginning at noon on Saturday.
More than 400 politicos, social figures and members of the consular corps packed the ballroom where chairs Danielle Ellis, Holly Montalbano and Alison Ayres Bell oversaw the creation of a decor that pulsated with island vibes. More than a dozen palm trees sprouted around the room and rose from tables where tropical fruits served as luscious centerpieces, the "Tropical Treasures" theme ever present.
Highlight of the program was presentation by Mayor Annise Parker of the first annual Mayor's Award of Excellence for International Arts & Culture. That esteemed honor went to Robert Sakowitz, who has been involved with the international festival since its inception some 40 years ago.
The fun of this party was deciding what to wear with an invitation that called for "Island Elegant or Black-Tie Optional" and then checking out how the dress was interpreted. The attire ranged from sedate business suits to eye-popping floral frocks to white linen suits worn with Hawaiian shirts.
As for those booties — entertainment included two individual musicians from the islands and a local salsa group that heated up the body language with their shakes, rattles and rolls.
Among the notables mixing it up at what turned out to be a fertile field for political hobnobbing were Amy and Rusty Waldrup, Karen and Roland Garcia, Rufus Cormier, Lily and Charles Foster, Minnette Boesel, Antje and Harry Gee, Harriet and Truett Latimer, Beth Madison and Dick Kuriger, Cindy Clifford and David Bray and Cheryl and Percy Creuzot. Photogapher Alexander Rogers and wife Linda were there, Alexander's Fine Portrait Design donated a complimentary portrait for every guest.