More than 200 of Houston's glitterati turned out last Saturday night to toast Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, better known as The Vintage Contessa, for her 50th birthday.
Along with her husband, Rob, Chramosta runs the internationally recognized Houston showroom The Vintage Contessa & Times Past, which is filled with the couple's carefully curated picks of designer handbags, diamonds, watches, and antiquities sourced globally.
The River Oaks District-based celebration, which featured a black and gold theme, began with a private cocktail hour in Dolce & Gabbana–Chramosta's favorite. Dressed to impress, guests strolled in on a red carpet to mingle and sip champagne surrounded by colorful majolica patterns and D&G pieces before heading across the street to Toulouse Café and Bar.
There, festivities continued all night with dance, drink, and fine dining–guests enjoyed crispy tuna tartare tacos, butter poached lobster shooters, and salmon cannelloni, among other appetizers.
The party's "Spicy Sicilian" theme speaks to Chramosta's heritage–one of Italian immigrants. Chramosta's grandparents came through Ellis Island from Sicily in the 1900s to land in College Station, she told Houstonia. Last Saturday, Italian festival dancers in traditional dress performed under glittering trees on Toulouse's open patio and taught the crowd a few numbers. A DJ played classic Italian music before turning to '70s, '80s, and '90s hits as the night went on.
An ornate cake, a birthday toast and song led by Rob, and unique Vintage Contessa-inspired art by Hahn Tran were trademarks of the celebration, which included event underwriters Bentley Houston and Toulouse. In lieu of gifts, Chramosta asked guests to consider donations to KNOWAutism, a local non-profit that provides direct financial assistance to families affected by autism and raises community awareness of early signs of the disorder.
Chramosta's connection to the cause is a personal one: Her longtime showroom manager, who recently retired, has a daughter with autism. Through her, "I've seen the reality of the challenges of having an autistic child," Chramosta said.
Guests rose to the challenge–undoubtedly nudged by Chramosta's persuasive and precocious 10-year-old, Bella, who worked the crowd for donations. All told, the party raised more than $23,000 for KNOWAutism. The charity is planning its annual gala next month, which Chramosta will chair.