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Excitement is palpable as the Performing Arts Center heads toward completion with various fundraising efforts underway. An invitation-only reception at Talula restaurant was held by the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to announce the launch of its Legacy Plaque Project. All of the funds raised will go toward the placement of two engraved granite plaques, one to be housed on the donors' wall of the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Opera House and one to be placed on the donors' wall of the Carnival Concert Hall. The inscription will read ``From the Friends of the GLBT Community in South Florida.''
Philanthropist and event co-chair Harvey Burstein explained that the goal of the Legacy Plaque Project is ``to demonstrate the unwavering commitment of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community to the Miami Performing Arts Center.''
Contribution levels from $250 to $2,500 afford donors a range of benefits, including engraved commemorative colonnade stones, discounts for performances and priority tickets to special events.
The reception was in Talula's dining room and lush garden patio with husband and wife owners/culinary team Frank Randazzo and Andrea Curto-Randazzo whipping up sumptuous hors d'oeuvres for the group of about 50, which included Steve Adkins, MDGLCC president; event co-chairs Merle Weiss, Mark Little, Marty Davis and Edward McIntyre; and artist Jojo Corvaia.
Socialites love meeting the designers behind the fabulous frocks they love to wear and welcome each one like a rock star. This week, Bal Harbour Shops was ablaze with celebrity designers. The fun began with fur designer Dennis Basso, who not only is a jet-setter himself, but hobnobs with celebrities such as Sharon Stone, Joan Collins, Diana Ross, Ivana Trump and Jennifer Lopez, to name but a few who wear his creations.
He appeared at Saks Fifth Avenue's Bal Harbour store for an invitation-only luncheon for about 50 of Jackson Memorial Foundation's Golden Angels as a kick-off for the upcoming ball. They were treated to an exclusive fashion show featuring about 50 pieces from Dennis Basso's fur collection shown by seven models attired for all occasions -- day to night -- but all in black to show the furs of all lengths and styles, which included sable, chinchilla, sheared mink reversible to leather, broadtail and knitted sable.
Basso's signature is the way he combines several furs in one garment and the way he manipulates the skins, knitting or shearing them.
Attendees were greeted with Kir Royale, and the elegant sit-down luncheon featured seared veal loin in a porcini and champagne sauce and a decadent chocolate selection for dessert.
The luxury crowd included Fana Holtz; Loretta Mattos; Monica Heffler; Diane Ares; Princess Thi-Nga; Dolores Ziff; Cecilia Huete; Sara Brenner; Annie Meinhold.
Jewelry designer Judith Ripka appeared with son Brian at Bal Harbour Shops for the launch of their new boutique and to debut her new ''18k Couture Collection.'' Ripka's interpretation of bold colors and integration of rare diamonds and one-of-a-kind stones with her distinctive 18k matte gold translates into a unique collection.
Hosts for the event, Lana Bernstein and Christina Getty-Maercks. introduced the mother and son to the jewelry-loving socialites who attended the Perrier-Jouet champagne reception. Touch Catering provided delicious hors d'oeuvres.
Although lavish, Ripka jewels are meant to be worn, as she put it, ''from beach chic to blue jeans and black tie'' -- something the social crowd understands and does on a regular basis. Ripka now has 11 retail stores.
Among the fashionable there were Belkys Nerey, Sarah Harrelson, Jayne Abess, Lola Jacobson, Marisa Toccin, Jillian Anderson, Katharine Rubino, Lisa Petrillo, Michelle Rubell, Jill Martin, Elizabeth Resnick, Laurie Jennings, Theresa Turchin, Alexis Zipp, Claudine Smurfit, Trudy Cejas, Jennifer Valoppi, Kim Wood and Faye Bochner.