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This week was over-the-top luxe for the social set, the result was like too much candy for a pre-schooler. Caviar and diamonds, need we say more? The sensory overload started with the opening of the Harry Winston salon in Bal Harbour Shops -- their ninth in the world -- with a VIP champagne reception for about 100.
It is the first retail location in Florida, designed by world-renowned French architect Thierry Despont. Harry Winston was the iconic jeweler who put American style on the map in the 1930s by creating a groundbreaking aesthetic to showcase larger, flawless diamonds in invisible settings. His dramatic designs were de rigueur for celebrities -- from a time when the famous actually owned their jewelry rather than borrowed it -- such as the Duchess of Windsor. The diamonds Winston found and cut became celebrities on their own such as the 45-carat Hope Diamond and the 69-carat pear-shaped monster that Richard Burton bestowed on Elizabeth Taylor.
The 71-carat Lesotho diamond on display at the new salon taunted socialites from its glass case. Aprs the opening, about 200 VIPs gathered for a black-tie dinner at the La Gorce home of Ambassador Steven Green and wife Dorothea. A tent with a clear top and glittery lights became an icy (get it?) Winter Wonderland with the magical decor of Karla Dascal in sparkling white, pearl and silver. A percentage of proceeds from sales went to our local American Red Cross. The exciting live auction featured a women's Avenue C watch from HW. One watch was won by the ambassador for $19,000 and the other by Fredi Consolo, who after winning turned to her husband Robert and said ''Merry Christmas, honey,'' making the table roar with laughter. The exquisite dinner was from Le Basque. Flown in from New York was Sasha Lazard and her group. She mesmerized the crowd with her operatic voice and jazz fusion style. Celebrating were Ronald Winston, company chairman and son of HW; Jim Seuss, president of HW; Susan Pullin, salon manager; also from HW Brett Sherlock and Suzy Korb. The guest list was a who's who with women dressed in Valentino, Angel Sanchez, Celine, Chanel and Mayda Cisneros -- who was there too with husband Terje Lundaas.
The glam set included Allen and Diane de Olazarra, dripping in diamonds and emeralds; Bridget Rock; Dolores and Sanford Ziff; Princess Thi-Nga; Mari Alarcon Grimalt; Lydia and Rudy Prio Touzet; Dalia Glottman; Luis and Norma Quintero; Rick Rosen and Carol Bell; from Boston, Dan Mullin; Carlos and Martha de Cespedes; Sol Juncadella; Dan and Tina Carlo; Jeff and Yolanda Berkowitz; Dr. Felix Freshwater; Carl Randolph; Irwin and Linda Potash; and Cindy Carr.
It was a hedonist's caviar dream come true at Casa Casuarina, the exclusive dinner club on South Beach with the opening of the Caviar Creator Lounge hosted by Caviar Creator CEO Frank Schaefer. About 200 VIPs scarfed down huge mounds of the finest caviar eaten off the back of one's hand (cost: about $100 a lick). They also enjoyed Chef Wolfgang Birk's exquisite caviar-inspired menu washed down with Laurent Perrier's Grand Siecle champagne and Imperia vodka. Among the hedonists were Jorge and Darlene Perez; former Miss Universe Barbara Palacios; race car driver Michael Andretti; and Thomas Kramer.
One of the biggest and most entertaining holiday parties is Felipe Valls Jr. and wife Lourdes' ''Jingle Valls.'' The glamorous couple hosted over 300 guests -- which included almost every heavy-hitter in Miami -- at their Pinecrest home and asked everyone to bring a new toy for the Amigos for Kids toy drive. A salsa band played on the pool terrace and everyone danced and mingled all night while feasting on three buffet tables.
The chic crowd included Biltmore Hotel owner Gene Prescott and girlfriend Ana Navarro; Justo Luis and Silvia Pozo; Israel and Ileana Siam; People Magazine's Miguel Sirgado; Lily Zanardi; Felipe Valls Sr. (founder of the landmark Versailles restaurant); Ernesto and Ana de la Fe; Marlen and Nino Pernetti; Fernando and Amalia Amaro; Julio and Myriam Ramirez; and Marcelo and Lourdes Fanjul.
Architect Tui Pranich celebrated the birthday of partner Serge De Troyer with a lavish party at their sleek weekend home at Aqua overlooking the lights of Miami Beach. An eclectic crowd enjoyed an authentic Thai menu from Tui's homeland. Guests admired the spectacular decor in dazzling white with accents of espresso brown to showcase an impressive collection of contemporary art -- so very New York chic. Among the guests were Iran Issa-Khan; Alvaro Cuadrado; Oscar and Carole Seikaly; Deco Drive's Louis Aguirre; interior designer Matt MacDonald; Kevin Hernandez; Juan Carlos Cajigas; Eugene Rodriguez; and Jorge and Monica Tchinnosian.