Society / Featured Parties

85-Year-Old Houston Fashion Icon Warbles Italian Love Songs to Turn a River Oaks Crowd to Mush

Victor Costa Steals the Show and Boosts The Italian Cultural & Community Center

BY // 10.25.21
photography Michelle Watson (CatchLightGroup.com)

Be still my heart. America’s favorite fashion designer of the ’70s and ’80s, Victor Costa, absolutely enchanted the packed River Oaks Country Club ballroom when he took the stage to serenade with two Italian love songs. The amazing 85-year-old native Houstonian was guest of honor at the second annual fundraiser for the Italian Cultural & Community Center.

More than a few had tears in their eyes, including his wife Jerry Ann Woodfin Costa, as he sang. The dapper gentleman was rewarded with standing ovations not only for his singing but also for his design prowess as models walked the runway in a collection of his fabulous gowns and dresses. Adding high notes to the parade of fashions were dazzling jewels loaned to the models from Valobra Master Jewelers owner Franco Valobra, whose family founded the house of jewels in Torino, Italy, more than 100 years ago.

Italian Cultural & Community Center La Dolce Vita Luncheon (Photo by Michelle Watson (CatchLightGroup.com))
Ann Ayre, Brian McCulloch, Marla Hurley, Tara Martin at the Italian Cultural & Community Center La Dolce Vita Luncheon. (Photo by Michelle Watson (CatchLightGroup.com))

On a day such as this celebrating all things Italian, it becomes important for ladies of Italian heritage to honor their maiden names. Thus, luncheon chairs Patti Imbrogno Murphy and Cheryl Arolfo Byington did just that when welcoming the throng.

The chairs were among the celebrity models styling in Victor Costa fashions, many of which would pass for fresh looks on today’s party circuit.  The models included Katie Cullen, Renne Jongebloed, Monica Ercolani, Joyce Frassanito, Jenee Bobbora and Gina Gusemano Leck. In a surprise for the audience, Nicole Pactor Graham swept the catwalk in Roz Bilao Pactor’s Victor Costa wedding gown, and Lauren Leck paraded in  the Victor Costa wedding gown worn by her mother Gina Gusemano Leck.

PC Seen: Rose (Saragusa) Cullen, Vicky Rizzo, Monica Ercolani, Susan and Denis DeBakey, Lauren Abbott, Nicole and Michael Graham, Brian McCulloch, Leisa Holland-Nelson, Jacquie Baly Craig, fashion show coordinator Jeanne Ruberti, Neiman Marcus GM Chris Hendel, emcee Owen Conflenti of KPRC Channel 2, and Italian Cultural & Community Center executive director Erika Myers.

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