Society / The Seen

Houston’s Italian Cultural Center Throws a Rousing Roman Party

Before Coronavirus' True Horror Hit, These Houstonians Already Were Supporting Their Homeland

BY // 03.27.20
photography Michelle Watson,

Only weeks before COVID-19 was horridly racing across Italy, a clutch of Italophiles hosted a gloriously upbeat fundraiser for Houston’s Italian Cultural & Community Center (ICCC) — the inaugural Roman Holiday Fashion Show & Luncheon.

Who better to carry the banner for the center than Roz Bilao Pactor, a third-generation Italian-American boasting all four grandparents born in Italy, and Terrie Hogan Turner, owner of Villa Ercolano in the Umbrian region of Italy. Their desire in creating and chairing the event was to salute all things Italian.

Upon arrival at the Junior League of Houston, guests were serenaded by Romolo Bianco, who regularly entertains guests at Amalfi Ristorante while they dine on what mega-developer and native Italian Giorgio Borlenghi considers the finest Italian fare in the city.

In the Junior League dining room, ICCC committee members had dressed tables in bouquets of red and white flowers laced with imported chocolates from Baratti & Milano. The Italian theme continued with an aria sung by the University of Houston Moores School of Music artist Krista Page.

The fashion show, produced by Jeanne Ruberti, kicked off with the rousing sounds of “Mambo Italiano!” From there, it was all Italian fashion all the time. Looks from Elizabeth Anthony, Festari for Men, and Alice d’Italia were modeled by celebs that included Philamena Baird, Donae Chramosta, Monica Ercolani, Giorgio Floridia, Joyce Frassanito, Sam Governale, Mary Ann Hebrank, Renee Jongebloed, Gina Leck, Phyllis Mandola, Tony Mandola, Michael Patronella, Peter Remington, Tina Silvestri, and Dennis Wright.

The inaugural event raised $130,000 for ICCC’s scholarship fund program.

PC Seen: Chaille Strake, Cathy Brock, Janet Gurwitch, Stacey Swift, Cindy Soefer, Rosie Carrabba, Trini Mendenhall, Karen Mayell, Katy Mayell, Julie Roberts, Debbie and Rudy Festari, Christine Sabatini, Sandra Harris, Mauri Oliver, Sandra Porter, Joan Cohen, and Crystin Pactor.

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