Valentino’s Warm Welcome in Houston

Guests celebrated the opening of the new Valentino boutique here Thursday night.

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HOUSTON — Even in a gloomy economy, everything is still bigger in Texas.

This story first appeared in the April 27, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

A gigantic floating V made from 6,000 red roses dominated the indoor pool at the mansion of energy executive John Thrash and his wife, Becca Cason Thrash, as 100 guests celebrated the opening of the new Valentino boutique here Thursday night with a dinner hosted by the couple and W magazine.

Everyone was seeing red as the Valentino visual design team replaced hundreds of lights in and around the Thrash home with bulbs in shades of the designer’s signature color. Many women were in red in tribute to company founder Valentino Garavani, who did not attend.

Thrash wore an off-the-shoulder red Valentino gown. She added a personal touch with a jeweled belt from her closet.

The evening began with a cocktail party at the boutique, located along “luxury row” in the Galleria shopping mall. The 2,600-square-foot store — Valentino’s 10th U.S. boutique — opened in February and features beige carpet and champagne-colored walls, with shelves that showcase dozens of Rosier and Petale handbags at the entrance. A separate room in the rear highlights the women’s ready-to-wear collection and men’s leather goods.

Many in the crowd fondly recalled Valentino’s designs, but Jenine Howard, wife of Charlotte Bobcats basketball player Juwan Howard, said she is eager to see the fall ready-to-wear collection from the company’s accessory designers, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, as she clutched her Petale black tote studded with gold rivets.

“It has that rocker edge to it,” she said. “It makes me feel young.”

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