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High Gear

| Monday, July 9, 2007

The stars were in perfect alignment on 7/7/07, and the entrance to the venerable Oakmont Country Club looked like a sculpture garden of sheet-metal glory for Black Tie & Tailpipes , the four-wheel fete that launched this week's pageantry of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix , now celebrating its silver anniversary.

Rolling icons of grace and power that made male faces go slack-jawed. There were star cameo appearances by Rolls, Porches, Ferraris and 'Vettes, but Saturday was prom night, and, as the marque car of the year, Mercedes Benz was the class queen. Stealing the show was a '06 silver McLaren SLR Roadster that kicks out 626 horses under its three-pointed-star hood ornament. And don't expect much change from a $500,000 bill.

For most of these 225 swells, a really great car is not merely a mandatory mobility device, it's right up there on the life-essentials list with air, water and a platinum Visa card. Thanks a bunch, good buddies, for helping to raise over $54,000 for Allegheny Valley School and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh .

Once inside this shrine to golf that just played host to the U.S. Open for the eighth time, guests were captivated by the historic photographs and memorabilia in its patrician clubhouse. Cocktails were served on the veranda overlooking the humbling, hallowed fairways of one of the finest courses in the world.

There were pit stops at the silent auction and serious bidding at the live one of five choice items before tucking into a positively splendid wine and dine in the elegant ballroom. Sputzy played sweet and low during dinner and then picked up the beat irresistibly for dancing.

Big wheel sponsors were Rich Haeflein and Dina Marrero with Lou and Jennifer Krebs of Shop & Save; Kim Fleming of Hefren-Tillotson; Crown Royal's Jeff Harrison with Marianne; Robin and Dan Taylor of Ford; and Dan Torisky , who founded the PVGP with Myron Cope in 1983 (Myron will be leading the parade on Sunday!). Stunning Rachel Brooks , Miss Pennsylvania/America 2007, told us about her brother who is disabled by autism. And then she sang like a nightingale.

In the driver's seat were glam chairs Beth Martin and Gigi Saladna who led the fashion parade for such as PVGP director Dan DelBianco and Michelle , smashing in white; Deborah and Eric Hessinger; Bernie Pinsker wearing a silvery Valentino and a divine diamond necklace; Ann Rougeaux and Chuck Yeager; Gina and Vince Pascoe; Ginger and Ray Morris; Debra and Jeff Zukerman ; AVS prez Rege Champ and Cindy with Chelsey and Colin; Jim Royston and Mardi , a standout in turquoise chiffon; Gail and Norman Childs; Tom Michael; Parie and John Duggan ; and emcee George Patterson with Nancy .

As well as beautiful couple Lorraine and Harvey Rice; Camille Lurie , stunning in pale green, with Eric ; Catherine and Frank Marmion; Greg Farrell and Christy wearing a strapless gown checkered in black/white; auction chairs Megan Sweringen and Lisa Stauffer with John and Thad; Jan Otto; Jonathan Kanter; Jennifer Yee ; the Longos: Georgia, Vince and Christoper with Deana Muro; Doris and John Hadeen; Laura Burns and Dr. Jeff Thompson ; and lady in red Kimberly Harney with Andrew Patterson .

Great carma.

French Class

Not that you need another reason to visit the Frick Art Museum in Point Breeze, but the new show that previewed Thursday, "In the Studios of Paris: William Bouguereau & His American Students," is a spectacular reminder of why Bouguereau was ranked as one of the greatest painters in the world in his lifetime.

American artists beat a path to the renowned teacher's atelier and, driven by a "Bouguereau epidemic" in the 1890s, Pittsburgh's steel and coal barons (including Henry Clay Frick) created a raging demand for his pricey paintings of beautiful women, children and shepherdesses. So epic-sized are most of these canvases that the exhibit, smashingly curated by Sarah Hall , has taken over every gallery space in this jewel box of a museum ('til Oct. 14).

La Cr�me catered the smart reception for 300 gallery-goers who spilled outdoors to the tented plaza, where we spotted director Bill Bodine; Sibby and Duff McCrady; Chris and Tom Gillespie; Betsy and Chuck Watkins ; Dr. Bill Swartz and daughter Barbara; Helen and Henry Posner; Juliet Grauer; Susan and Tom Schmidt; Carol Caroselli; Susie and Roy Dorrance; Jean-Pierre Collet; Steve Webster; Jason Busch; Richard Stuart; Bill Ceroni and sister Kathy ; and Ann with Paul Bridges .

Buon Appetito!

Basta pasta? Never. Nothing seems to cover all the culinary bases like a good fix of pasta. At least that's our explanation for the 2,000 paesani who stepped up to the plate for A Taste of Pittsburgh's Pasta , the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society 's ciao down at the U.S. Steel Plaza that raised $20,000 to close in on a cure for cancer.

Just a taste• Not likely, with 12 ristorantes competing for the gold medal. Judges sharing the fork-twirling tasks were restaurant critic Ann Haigh , Pennsylvania Culinary Institute chef Scott Fetty and (ahem) Trib food editor Karin Welzel . The Stone Mansion and Jimmy G's led the pesto posse with a first-ever tie for the best overall dish.

Basking in the sunshine and humming along to Jimmy Sapienza and Five Guys Named Moe were such as co-chairs Judy Sarsfield and Barbara Stull; Judy Gilberti; MaryAnn Dougherty; Tom Harrington; Judy O'Connor; Carl Vulcan; Lisa Katz; Jeanne Caligiuri; Maureen Durkin; John Posteraro; Jesse Polito; Samantha Trunzo; Karen McNeil; Kristin Rhodes ; and Uncle Skeddy of Spaghetti Warehouse.

Fruit of the Vine

The wood-paneled private dining room at Morton's The Steakhouse was a cozy setting for Women and Wine , a fundraiser for the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Red Cross .

Guests dined on filet mignon and crab cakes and sipped five choice wines from Marchesi di Barolo, a venerable winery in Italy's Piedmont region.

Anna Abonna , of the family winery she and her husband, Ernesto , now own, was a most gracious guest of honor, sharing her wines and toasting W&W awardee Kay Beckman . Beckman started as a volunteer after 9/11 with the Red Cross, which aids victims of disasters. She now works as a Red Cross disaster education specialist.

In addition to the impeccable food and memorable wines, guests also bid on unique auction items, including a stellar magnum of Cannubi Barolo 2001, as hosted by Morton's Tylor Field . Among the guests were Tim Tassone and Marilyn Caye of the Red Cross; Jack Zoller ; Dr. Irv Beckman; David Blank; David Geisinger; Marie Latagliata; Jamie Pettibon; Bethany Scherline and Mary Maust .

-- Sandra Donovan

Jazzy Jeans

Diamonds and denim set the tone and jazz set the beat for Cancer Caring Center 's second annual Jeans, Jewels & Jazz that set a record $40,000 for free support services to cancer patients and their families. Even a little rain couldn't dampen the spirits of the 200-plus crowd filling Steven Herforth and Peter Karlovich 's absolutely fab Mt. Washington manse. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked intimate patios, an infinity pool and drop-dead views of the Pittsburgh skyline.

The 10,400-square-foot party central was the dazzling lady of the evening, but no one had to sneak a peek. The silent auction meandered through all three floors of the beauty in glass and steel.

Urbanites bid, grazed and buzzed to the beat of the Kenny Blake Trio with the yummy voices of Etta Cox and Chizmo Charles. Ubiquitous baubles and bling had competition from stunning and sparkly Maureen Lape and daughter Loren , escorted by Doug Austin , while Christina Paletta and Susan Luschini turned heads in casual elegance. Chair Jeffrey Leonard , never a slave to convention, hung diamonds from his back pocket.

Bejeaned and bejeweled were the likes of Respironics' John Miclot; Kevin Dorcak ; CCC prez Josette Janczak and director Rebecca Whitlinger; Robin Beruh; Casey Lester, Radoj Glisic and Mojca Pippus; Jennifer Schirra; Mari Mager; Annette Palmiero and Joe; Marci Woodruff and Lon Darbin; Mary Beth Beggy; Rick Deloia ; and Joe Migliozzi .

-- Karen Becket

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