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River Oaks Tennis Tournament Builds On Its Scene Worthy Rep With Swoony Fashion Show — A 40-Year Tradition Is Stronger Than Ever

A Milestone Anniversary For the Hottest Ticket on Houston's Spring Social Calendar

BY // 04.13.24

Mother Nature, who was something of a witch last year, proved herself the darling of the River Oaks crowd when she produced sunny skies, slim humidity and pleasant breezes for the annual Tootsies Fashion Show and Luncheon held in conjunction with the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship Tournament.

It was the perfect two days of back-to-back luncheons celebrating the 40th anniversary of Houston’s ultimate see-and-be-seen fashion event. While Tootsies owners Donna and Norman Lewis and creative director Fady Armanious have been at the helm for a number of years, it was Lenny Matuszewski, show coordinator, who has been on board one way or another since its inception. In fact, he modeled in that first River Oaks tennis tournament fashion show held in April of 1984.

It was Tootsies founder, the late Mickey Rosmarin, who envisioned the luncheon that would become the hottest spring ticket on the Houston social calendar. The inaugural fashion show was one day only, limited strictly to River Oaks Country Club members and the fashions were presented on a runway built across the swimming pool. Such was the popularity that the event was quickly expanded to two days.

Kathy de la Mora and Kat Pressly
Kathy de la Mora, Kat Pressly at the River Oaks tennis tournament luncheon.

Since the late 1990s, Matuszewski and later his biz partner Tamara Klosz Bonar have orchestrated the fashion show that is now held on the Members Lawn beneath a billowing tent. He recalls only a handful of occasions when rain forced the proceedings indoors.

Such is the popularity of the event that for decades it has sold out within minutes of the lines opening for reservations. Many would say, God bless the Lewises for continuing the heralded tradition.

Donna Lewis, Emily Lewis , Ally Cattan and Norman Lewis
Donna Lewis, Emily Lewis, Ally Cattan, Norman Lewis at the River Oaks Country Club tennis tournament luncheon.

Luncheon chair Shelli Lindley and River Oaks tennis tournament chair Bronwyn Greer helmed this colorful affair which always inspires the brightest of fashionista looks.

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For the milestone anniversary, Tootsies adopted a “ROCC-OCO” theme. The ornamental Rococo reference was witnessed in model hairstyles, table decor and the lavish fashions, 81 in all, that filled the runway which serpentined between tables. Some 750 ladies and sprinkling of gents attended each day, making this a 1,500 people strong fashion extravaganza.

Rachel Regan
Rachel Regan at the River Oaks tennis tournament luncheon.

PC Seen: Jenna Lindley, Brooke Lee, DeeDee Marsh, Hillary Holmes Archer, Jennifer Allison, Jordan Seff, Marcia Backus, Stacey Lindseth, Susan Vick, Susie McGee, Whitney Lawson, Amanda Boffone, Claire Day, Elia Gabbanelli, Kat Pressly, Kathy De La Mora, Lisa Paulk, Melissa Juneau, Melissa Sugulas, Monica De Hoz Vila, Sarah Morgan, Vanessa Ames, Dana Barton, Beth Zdeblick, Cindy Bendy, Amalia Stanton, and Mignon Gill.

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