A Night of Hispanic Style

The Hispanic Designers Gala Wednesday night was very international: One could hear English with a Spanish accent, Portuguese with a French accent, and Midwestern with a Mexican accent.

More than 500 people attended the 15th annual dinner and fashion show at the J.W. Marriott, where a combination of cultural pride and high fashion was on display.

"This is a wonderful initiative to promote our Hispanic designers from both sides of the Atlantic," Spanish Ambassador Antonio de Oyarzabal said.

But it's getting so complicated. Designer Ocimar Versolato, for example, was born in Brazil, lives in Paris and designs for women all around the world. Versolato, who was the evening's fashion honoree, said that "the sensuality in the clothes . . . owes a lot to where I was born."

This side of the Atlantic was represented by Eduardo Lucero--born in Mexico, grew up on a farm in Illinois, now lives in Los Angeles. So how does that figure in his designs? "It doesn't necessarily influence it directly," he said, "but it influences it on a deep-down-roots area."

The bottom line, however, is probably the bottom line. "I am extremely proud of my heritage," said Oscar de la Renta, recipient of the gala's first award in 1985, who attended a benefit luncheon earlier for Casa del Nino, his pet project in the Dominican Republic. "But when it comes to fashion--being such a global business--I don't think a designer can rely on his roots to make it."

Then it comes down to simply beautiful clothes. Guests nibbled on chocolate truffles as models slinked down the runway in various combinations of fur, leather, ball gowns and stilettos. Actress Sonia Braga hammed for the cameras. Penny Harrison, president of Hispanic Designers, received a huge floral bouquet for raising $100,000 for scholarships.

That translates to "nice job" in any language.

Marianne Gingrich's Gain

The joke running through the Capital Hilton ballroom Tuesday night was that Marianne Gingrich "lost 280 pounds: Newt." Truth be told, the soon-to-be ex of the ex-speaker looked svelte, sexy and fabulous. Gingrich, below with Shane Riley, returned to Washington to help chair the 11th annual Children's Inn gala, a bipartisan effort headed by congressional spouses and attended by the likes of HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.). Said a beaming Gingrich, who received a standing ovation from the audience, "These are my friends, and friends are always wonderful."

The Rotary Club's Good Deed

The Rotary Club of Tysons Corner held its 10th annual gala Friday night, and while there was no smoke in the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton, the evening was a mortgage-burning party of sorts. The annual gala, along with a golf tournament, raised $100,000, enough to pay off the deed for Kaleidoscope House, a home for abused children in Northern Virginia. "We are so grateful just for people who care," said Judith Dittman Moore, below, the home's executive director.