Celebrating the Jewels of Italy Fashion Show & Luncheon 2022

The Italian Cultural & Community Center of Houston (ICCC) celebrated all things Italian at their annual fashion show and luncheon on September 14.

Over 300 guests gathered at the River Oaks Country Club to toast to the facets of Italy that we all know and love: the fashion, the food, the wine, the culture, it’s history and artistry. Italy has contributed many jewels to the city of Houston, and the ICCC honored Rose “Rosie” Carrabba as one of those gems.

Master of Ceremonies and KPRC TV Anchor Owen Conflenti welcomed the guests and introduced event chairs Sandra Porter and Gina Gusemano Leck after Bailey Bower, opera singer from University of Houston Moores School of Music, left the crowd in awe by singing an Italian opera aria. ICCC Executive Director Erika Myers then went on stage to express the ICCC’s mission and recognize Rosie Carrabba as the guest of honor for the event. Rosie was walked out on stage by her son and restaurateur, Johnny Carrabba, who brought himself and the crowd to tears with his sincere introduction of his mother.

Rose Marie Carrabba was born in the East End of Houston, Texas, and raised by first-generation Italian Americans. As a young adult, she married Mr. John Carrabba II, and together, they had two children, Johnny Carrabba III and Mary Louise (Carrabba) Cruse. She and Mr. Carrabba took over the family grocery store, Carrabba’s Friendly Grocery, where they served the East End of Houston regularly and served lunches to the local workers in the area. Upon retirement, they decided to sell the grocery store. Around the same time in 1988, her son and restauranteur, Johnny Carrabba, was in the process of opening his second Carrabba’s location on Voss Road. He asked Rosie to be the family presence at that location and three decades later, she still works at this location daily. Rosie is a giver by nature and loves to help people in every aspect of life from charities to her beloved employees at the restaurant. She consistently donates to charities, especially those that help people and children in need. She is a devout Catholic and is involved in her local community.

The room was filled with pure joy and raw emotions as they watched a surprise congratulatory video from Steve Tyrell, followed by minutes of Rosie’s colorful jokes.

Neiman Marcus stole the spotlight with their phenomenal fashion show. Beautiful models from Page Parkes showcased exquisite pieces from Italian designers. The success of the fashion show was made possible because of Jeanne Ruberti’s determination for creating a fantastic show with a spectacular finale, where three models wore stunning dresses arranged in green, white, and red to represent the Italian flag. Throughout the event, attendees were encouraged to continue participating in the prosecco pull, where each $75 ticket purchase was an entry to the trip to Italy drawing. They were also encouraged to purchase raffle tickets to win one of six raffle items. In the raffle, six lucky winners had the chance to win an enchanting prize: one of three dazzling pieces from Tenenbaum Jewelers, a Houston experience package, an Italian dine around package, luxury Italian linens from Tribute Goods, a collection of select Italian wines, or a painting by Daniela Pasqualini. Throughout the program, and a week before the event, guests were able to place bids on auction items online.

Congratulations to the winners of the six fabulous raffle items, various silent auction items, and the incredible drawing for an all expenses paid trip to the Amalfi Coast, donated by Trips 2 Italy. The ICCC would like to extend a huge thank you to the donors, table sponsors and supporters who took part in this marvelous event and contributing to the ICCC scholarship fund. Special thanks to Acqua Panna USA, San Pellegrino US, Bering Street Advisors – Garofalo Financial Services, Daniela Pasqualini, Fondazione Gian Paolo Barbieri, HEB, Houston Community College Cosmetology Department, Houston Community College Fashion Merchandising, Martini & Rossi Fiero, Matilde Vicenzi Italian Fine Pastry, Mike Vellano – The Vortex Companies, Neiman Marcus Houston, Tenenbaum Jewelers, The Goodman Corporation, Tribute Goods, Trips 2 Italy, and Valentino Beauty. We could not have had a wonderful time or offered lovely gifts for our guests without your contributions, generosity, and presence.

The fashion show and luncheon benefited the ICCC scholarship program for students currently enrolled at a college or university in the greater Houston area and are participating in a study abroad program in Italy. Since 2000, the ICCC has granted over $250,000 in scholarships to college students. With the help of ICCC members and friends, this year’s event was the most successful in ICCC history. Grazie mille.

A big heartfelt thank you to our donors for the event:

Alto, Amalfi Ristorante Italiano, Amore, Andreea Mut, August Kovach, Baratti & Milano, Beth Harp, Bayou City Art Festival, Beautique Day Spa, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, Bering Street Advisors – Garofalo Financial Services, Buck Ross and Nicole Knley Miller – Moores Opera Center, Bill Walker Clothier, Carolyn Garofalo, Casteggio Italian Wines by Gruppo Butera, Cherri Carbonara, Cinzia Dragoni Holt, Ciro’s, Citterio USA, Cyvia Wolff, Claudia Sims, D’Amico’s Da Marco, Danila Pasqualini, Debbie Festari, Davanti, DelBrenna Jewelry, Doug Skoop – Dionysus Imports, Ellie Fransisco, Flavio Zanin, Fondazione Gian Paolo Barbieri, Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Franelle Rogers, George Caflisch, Gina Leck, Gioielli DOP, Goode Co., HEB, Hotel Granduca, Houston Community College Cosmetology Department, Houston Community College Fashion Merchandising Department, Heather Almond & Chris Hendel/Neiman Marcus, Jack and Nancy Dinerstein, Jeanne Ruberti, Jerry Baiamonte, Joyce Frassanito, Judy Chiburis, Jeannine Madden in memory of Lena and Joe Mandola, Julie Mastroianni, Karen deGeurin, Kathleen Gabriele, Kelly & Tracy Finn, Kendra Scott, Le Petit Market – Robin Brennan Martin, Leslie Teitelbaum, Madison Henderson, Margret Norton, Maida’s Belts & Buckles, Marguerite Gabriele, Mary Milloy, Marian Luntz – MFAH, Martini & Rossi Fiero, Matilde Vicenzi Italian Fine Pastry, Michael Leiser, Michael Martinez Portraits, Mike Vellano – the Vortex Companies, More Than You Can Imagine, Numero 28, Neiman Marcus, Owen Conflenti KPRC TV2, Palazzo’s Porta’Vino, Potente, RainTree Boutique, Ray Miller, Ray Kirk, Robert Sakowitz, Rob May – Killer Vino – ROMA An Italian Eatery, Rosalie Gusemano, Rosanettte Cullen, Roz Pactor, Sandra Porter, Solaya Spa, TASS, Tenenbaum Jewelers, Terramar Imports, Tessa Anderson, Texas Wine School, The Goodman Corporation, The nice Winery, The Padgett Group, The Vintage Contessa, Tom and Robin Segesta, Tootsies, Tribute Goods, Trips 2 Italy, TuttiLili, Valentino Beauty, Vinology, Vinoteca Poscol.

Celebrating the Jewels of Italy Fashion Show & Luncheon
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