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Evening in Paris comes to Victoria (video)

By Camille Doty
July 18, 2012 at 2:18 a.m.
Updated July 19, 2012 at 2:19 a.m.

Adrienne Drouin, left, Ana Daniel and Lisa Bullock wait backstage before walking the catwalk with handbags from Consuela and Ju Ju Be brands.

Award Winners

VPEN's Woman of the Year - Michele Rohde, Edward Jones financial advisor

VPEN's Candidate for Top Ten Business Women of ABWA - Diane Kliem, attorney/CPA with Kliem & Rodriguez Attorneys at Law

VPEN's Protege Award - Jessica Dodds, marketing director with Gulf Bend Center, Ramona Garnett, CPA and owner of All Things Joyful

Stephen Bufton Memorial Education Fund Reimbursement Recipients - Sara Rodriguez, attorney with Kliem & Rodriguez Attorneys at Law and Ramona Garnett

Limousine rides, red carpet treatment, and paparazzi photo flashes can make any woman feel like an international star, even on a Wednesday in Victoria.

Close to 300 women glided through the Spring Creek Place Event Center doors to experience an evening in Paris in South Texas with the women of the Victoria Professional Express Network.

"We're really stepping it up this year," said Ann Moore Hill, the event chair.

The tables were lined with designer fabric, pink flowers and crystallized Eiffel towers.

Women were dressed in long sequin gowns and cocktail dresses with fashionettas. To some, the ambience was breath-taking.

"This is so classy and elegant," said Kimberly Lawrence, a spectator.

Lawrence said the entertaining evening provided her with wonderful networking opportunities. She just opened up her own clothing and accessories boutique, Olivia's Closet.

VPEN members pulled out all the stops for the fifth annual fashion showcase to promote their organization and raise funds. Proceeds go to scholarships, professional workshops and local charities.

Seventeen models braved the catwalk to promote fashions from JCPenney, Dillard's, Foster Creek, Pidder Patter and Rendezvous stores.

As each one sashayed through the venue, the emcees described their looks and touted their professional accomplishments as doctors, legal assistants and business owners. And for model Robin Janecka, it was just fun.

"You get to play dress up as a grown up," she said. Fellow model Vicki Wagner loved getting her hair and makeup done. "You get treated like royalty."

Some women were acknowledged throughout the evening with awards for their professional accomplishments. One recipient, attorney Sarah Rodriguez, said she's grateful for the support from the 80 active members in the Crossroads, who are past, present and future business women.

"I've never met a group of ladies that will help as much as they do," she said.

The 32-year-old mother of two was a recipient of the SBMEF business skills reimbursement program to help pay for her continuing education courses.

Rodriguez has had her own law firm, Kleim & Rodriguez, PLLC, since January 2011 and has been a VPEN member since 2010. The group has helped her to become more assertive and confident.

The extravaganza served as perfect fashion cocktail, mixing business and pleasure. "The boys have been doing this for years on the golf course. It's about time we've had something," she said.

Although the shows have been a girls-only exclusive, this year the festivities were open to their male counterparts.

"They support us all year long, why not include them?" said President Michele Rohde.

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