After a Fashion

Stephen gets all gushy when he poshes it up in Houston – sort of like The Simple Life, but backward.

Mark Sullivan, Lance Morgan, Carolyn Farb, little me, and Rita Garza at the divine Hotel Icon in Houston for <i>Brilliant  </i>magazine's party honoring Mme. Farb
Mark Sullivan, Lance Morgan, Carolyn Farb, little me, and Rita Garza at the divine Hotel Icon in Houston for Brilliant magazine's party honoring Mme. Farb (Photo By Shelley Daly)

THE SOCIAL CIRCUIT Omigod, I've just had the most glamorous 24 hours of my life! So impossibly glam, I can hardly stand myself. You'll probably raise an objection, too, but for now, let's just snuggle up under my ermine lap robe and enjoy some delicious dish. Lance Morgan and Phil Hudson, publishers of Brilliant, invited me to a party they were throwing in Houston for their recent cover girl, Carolyn Farb. Well, you know how I feel about Carolyn: I think she's a goddess. Others can smirk, but I care not. I'm deeply impressed to know her. My frequent walker Mark Sullivan said, "I'll make you an offer you can't refuse; come down to Houston, and I'll put you up in my penthouse at the Four Seasons." Well! How could I refuse? Then, the lovely e-mail arrived from Carolyn (she who loathes e-mail), asking me to come down as well. I called Carolyn the next day, and when she asked if I'd like to come to her house, I swooned. Yes, indeedy, I would. My frequent consort Rita Garza happened to have a meeting in Houston that day, so I invited her to accompany me to the party, and invited myself to ride down in her brand new 350Z. We arrived late on Tuesday at Mark's place, and it was heavenly – spacious and exquisitely appointed, with sweeping views to die for. He was the perfect host, and we stayed up and gossiped until all hours. After asking Carolyn's permission the next morning, I begged Mark to accompany me, afraid I might disgrace myself by passing out (or worse). Carolyn's River Oaks home is not especially grandiose from the outside, but it is a 1930s John Staub structure that had been redone in the Eighties, and the overwhelming quality from the outside is privacy. But inside? It's like an art museum where no alarms go off if you touch the art. The furnishings become inconsequential next to the breathtaking displays of art that trail everywhere, from the garage, through both floors of the house, across the patio, around the pool, and into the pool house. Mark and I were giddy to stand in front of Frida Kahlos, Jasper Johnses, Warhols, Rousseaus – a staggering personal collection that perfectly described its owner. The full-length Aaron Schickler portrait of Carolyn hanging in the circular stairwell was among the many incredible portraits of her. When she suggested lunch at the Grotto, a high-society watering hole, we eagerly agreed (I rode with Carolyn in her to-die-for Aston Martin convertible). We were immediately seated at the center table, and the parade of society babes winding its way through the restaurant was straight out of Dynasty. Carolyn identified them for us, giving us brief background info on them: "She's number one on the best-dressed list," (I also met No. 2 later that night) or, "She used to be a newscaster," and Mark and I lapped it up. Suddenly I realized it wasn't Dynasty, it was the La Cote Basque section of Truman Capote's Answered Prayers – and I swooned all over again. Carolyn is not only witty and engaging, but she's as shrewd and clever as she is beautiful and gracious – and she behaved with far better manners than any of the pretenders to her throne who were present. We regretfully bade Carolyn goodbye and went on a whirlwind tour of Houston, after which we retired for a brief respite and then got ready for the party and made arrangements to meet Rita there. The party was at the drop-dead gorgeous new Hotel Icon – unquestionably the most chic hotel I've ever been in ( Housing the Balance Day Spa; Jean-Georges Vongerichten's new restaurant, Bank; and the Whiskey, a Rande Gerber bar so plush I never wanted to leave, the rooms were magnificent, and I met the fab PR wizards behind the Icon magic, Gail Rubin and Stuart Rosenberg of Studio Communications, both riveting conversationalists and deeply talented. I intend to work hard to make them my NBFs (my Next Best Friends). Carolyn reigned over the entire affair wearing a dazzling suite of turquoise and diamond jewelry from the estate of Merle Oberon, and the chicest slice of the city turned out in force to pay homage. Vive la reine.

NOTES ON FASHION Sunday, April 4, is the fabulous Style Cup event at Element nightclub. Tickets are $20 general admission and $40 VIP. For more info, see last week's column or call Project Transitions at 454-8646... Also Sunday, April 4, AIDS Services of Austin presents Club Red at the Lounge at Spaghetti Warehouse (117 W. Fourth), 4-8pm. It is a benefit designed to attract a younger crowd to ASA events and features DJ John Gomi, a silent auction, drink tickets, and dancing 'til you drop. Tickets are $20 student advance, $25 general advance, and $30 at the door. Call Katryn at ASA (458-2437) for more info.

OOPS Our report of the death of local fashion glossy Urbanscape – in this column's " Top 10 Local Style-Related Developments of 2003" on Jan. 2 – appears to have been exaggerated. We are told the magazine is alive and well, and indeed its International Issue is currently in circulation. See for more information.

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