St. David’s Foundation Celebrates 35th Season Of Toast of the Town

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Matthew Fuller, Robert Godwin and Matt Lankes


THE SETTING: St. David’s Foundation recently celebrated a milestone in its annual Toast of the Town party series. Over the past 35 years, each Toast season has featured a series of intimate experiences at many of Austin’s most celebrated and exclusive event venues. This year’s Toast party season featured a record-setting 23 events that showcased the various interests and capped off another fabulous social season in Texas’ capital city.

THE STYLE: This year’s series of events featured a wide range of fun experiences ranging from intimate dinners for 12 to cocktails for 40. Sports enthusiasts were able to have lunch and a sideline conversation with UT Football Coach Tom Herman, while those wanting to learn about presidential history could experience an evening with the LBJ Foundation’s Mark Updegrove. Attendees who wanted to let down their hair were able to socialize and cut a rug on the dance floor at the Real Housewives of Lake Austin event, or learn more about what it is really like behind the scenes of the hit NBC series The Voice with contestant and Austinite, Reid Umstattd. Lastly, a series of curated, five-star events wouldn’t be complete without experiencing food and wine at some fabulous dinner parties. The Toast party season began with an intimate dinner for 12 atop the Austonian and concluded with dinner for 20 featuring Master Sommelier, Ian Cauble.

Each of the 23 experiences, while unique in theme, have a cohesive aesthetic that is evident the second you walk into any of the events. Each party features Austin Sociables donning their finest Austin-chic attire that perfectly complemented the warm, late-spring air. The intimate events are always highlighted and featured a warm welcome from one of the party hosts and a brief message from one of the scholarship recipients on how the St. David’s Foundation has positively impacted their life.

THE PURPOSE: St. David’s Foundation Toast of the Town, chaired by Ellen Troxclair with Cassie Bale serving as vice chair, raised $1.65 million for the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship Program. Since it’s founding, over 550 students have received scholarships, currently set at 7,500 dollars per year, for those seeking to pursue health-related careers at Texas colleges and universities.

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Fifth Annual Global Wildlife Conservation Event Dazzles

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Georges Schemagin and Michael Kovac, Getty Images for Global Wildlife Conservation 


THE SETTING: Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater was the recent setting for the fifth annual Wild Night for Wildlife gala supporting the Global Wildlife Conservation. The event drew over 550 of the top sociables, philanthropists and community leaders from Austin and around the country for a night of epic fun and fundraising.

THE STYLE: The excitement was palpable for attendees as they ascended the steps to the second floor exterior mezzanine for the VIP cocktail reception. After posing for pictures on the red carpet, guests, dressed in their finest Austin-chic attire, mingled about the friendly crowd. The festivities moved inside to the Moody Theatre for the evening’s program where emcee Tate Donovan effortlessly kept the patrons entertained as they dined on a delectable, multi-course vegetarian menu. Highlights of the program included a spirited live-auction, a fireside chat with UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiveristy Edward Norton and Global Wildlife Conservation board chair Brian Sheth discussing the importance of conservation and saving endangered species. The festivities were capped off by a show-stopping performance by Austin’s own Queen of Soul, Temeca Jones.

THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Kelly Green and Julie Jumonville, and hosted by Brian and Adria Sheth, raised over four million dollars for the Global Wildlife Conservation. The mission of the GWC is to support the diversity of life on Earth through scientific research, biodiversity exploration, habitat conservation, protected area management, wildlife crime prevention, endangered species recovery and conservation leadership.

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Dallas Museum of Art’s 54th Annual Art Ball Highlights Museum’s Permanent Collection

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Tamytha Cameron and George Fiala


THE SETTING: A picture-perfect evening on the beautiful grounds of the Dallas Museum of Art was the setting for one of Texas’ most anticipated annual fundraising events. The 54th annual Art Ball by the Dallas Museum of Art titled Form & Function: A Celebration of Craftsmanship Throughout the Collection showcased the beauty and breadth of the museum’s permanent collection. In all, several hundred of the state’s most influential and prominent art patrons, philanthropists and collectors attended to celebrate this beloved and iconic destination of the Arts.

THE STYLE: The fun began for the black-tie crowd with a lively cocktail hour where long-time friends reacquainted and new friends were made as they sipped cocktails courtesy of Belvedere, Glenmorangie, Hennessy and Ruinart. Partygoers were dazzled by the gorgeous décor inspired by the DMA’s permanent collection, with a moss green, dusty rose and raw wood palette that perfectly captured both the essence of the permanent collection and the late-spring evening. Adding to the fun was a mural sponsored by Neiman Marcus where patrons were invited to express their artistic side by coloring on the mural in bold and bright colors.

The festivities continued as guests took their seats to enjoy a delectable four course dinner catered by Cassandra Fine Catering, where the conversation flowed as freely as the wines that accompanied the meal. As the dessert portion was being served, the live auction commenced. Robbie Gordy of Christie’s helmed the spirited bidding which netted over $390,000 and included such luxe items as a Kenyan Safari, an exclusive fashion experience with Moda Operandi and a first-timer experience at the upcoming Two X Two for AIDS and Art. The evening was capped off with an after party where revelers danced the night away into the wee hours of the morning to the tunes of DJ Elusive.

THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Lindsey Collins and Amanda Shufeldt, raised funds for Dallas Museum of Art’s community engagement and education programs for the iconic Dallas institution that draws over 800,000 visitors annually. Over the past 54 years, DMA’s Art Ball has raised over $29 million to support this mission.

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The best plays, musical performances and exhibits in Texas are being enjoyed by record number crowds, according to our cultural adventurer Claire-Lise Greve who shares our favorite recommendations from across the state in this issue.



Coming to UT’s Bass Concert Hall in September, the Tony Award®-winning musical Les Misérables brings to life Victor Hugo’s classic story of human rights, class conflict and justice. This production took inspiration from the paintings of Victor Hugo to create a new, reimagined scenic design that captivates audiences. September 10—15. At


IMAGE: Photo courtesy of Les Miserables US Tour


The Modernist Networks exhibition drawn from Annette Campbell-White’s collection of Modernist writers and artists, features manuscripts, books, letters, photographs, and illustrations that chart creative influences across generations, disciplines, and continents. Campbell-White’s memoir, published in conjunction with the exhibition, offers a compelling backstory to this selection of highlights from her collection. Through January 5. At


IMAGE: Photo courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center


ANN offers a glimpse into the complex and passionate life of  Ann Richards, the colorful 45th Governor of Texas. This hilarious, yet captivating play provides an intimate setting to tell the story of one of the most impressive women in modern day politics.

Through September 8. At


IMAGE: Photo courtesy of ZACH Theatre



Texas Ballet Theatre presents Sleeping Beauty, a story of fate, curses, and love. Performed at the Winspear Opera House, this ballet showcases stunning costumes, dazzling scenery, and wonderful music, making it perfect for the whole family.

September 6—8. At

IMAGE: Photo courtesy of Texas Ballet Theater


The Psychedelic Robot show hosts a variety of interactive, multimedia installations from local and International artists including fashion, sculpture, painting, photography, video, music, costuming, performance and more in a 13,000 square foot venue at the Crescent Court. Through September 29. At

IMAGE: Photo courtesy of Psychedelic Robot


This sensational production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera returns to tell the story of a young ingénue who becomes entranced by her “Angel of Music” through breathtaking choreography, dazzling costumes and powerful vocals. Sept. 24—Oct. 5. At

IMAGE: Photo courtesy of The Phantom of the Opera Touring Company



The Printing Museum’s newest installation, Paper Couture, features origami artist, Joan Son’s take on retro-inspired fashion. Son created a variety of full-sized gowns through numerous techniques he learned throughout his career as a contemporary origami artist. Through December 22. At

IMAGE: Photo courtesy of Printing Museum


TUTS kicks off their 51st season with one of Broadway’s most iconic musicals at the Hobby Center. Telling the story of underpaid and overworked actors, A Chorus Line explores the timeless lives of Broadway chorus dancers. September 10—22. At

IMAGE: Photo courtesy of the Touring Company of A Chorus Line


Houston Ballet presents Giselle, a wonderful example of a 19th-century ballet that tells the story of a peasant girl who is tricked by an aristocrat pretending to be a commoner. Featuring themes of redemption, love, and betrayal, Giselle is one of the most stunning ballets ever produced. September 6-15. At

IMAGE: Photo courtesy of the Houston Ballet



For the Tobin Center’s anniversary gala 10-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight will entertain in her inimitable way. A seated dinner, silent auction and after party will make this a can’t-miss event. October 24.


IMAGE: Photo courtesy of the Tobin Center


Painting for Performance features designs of five different artists who have delved into the world of theatrical performance. The McNay museum’s new exhibit offers a glimpse into the technical skill that goes into creating the costumes and backdrops for many stage productions. September 12­—December 8.


IMAGE: Photo courtesy of the McNay Art Museum


Puccini’s tragic opera Tosca tells the story of an actress who truly lived for her art before sadly falling victim to the head of the secret police. Opera San Antonio uses the marvelous sets from the esteemed Seattle Opera’s rendition to create a visually stunning production. September 12 and 14. At

IMAGE: Photo courtesy of Opera San Antonio



Our adventurous classic style hunter Eleanora Morrison recently caught up with a favorite who  came into our homes through many television shows in the classic T.V. era, honorary Texan, Ruta Lee. Here, she catches up with her to discuss Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra and how becoming a star in the Golden Age of Hollywood took talent…and luck.

 “Good morning and welcome, my Texas girl,” she said and after a huge hug and an exchange of cheek kisses, the actress and eternal style-setter Ruta Lee asked, without skipping a beat, What can I make you? A Bloody Mary? With this hospitable of a greeting that felt just like how people do things back home, I knew immediately that Lee and I were going to have a great time together, and we were going to be fast friends. Lee’s ties to Texas are deep since her husband is Texan restauranteur Webb Lowe.

We jumped right in and began to talk about Lee’s life, her opinions on certain hot news topics, and what it was like to be in Hollywood in the heyday of America’s sweetheart movie stars and elegant glamour. I’d heard a rumor that Lee was friends with Lucille Ball, a fellow redhead. “Yes, we were very close. She was such an interesting person. On the set, there was no foolishness. She wanted to get things done quickly and efficiently, which was funny for a comedienne…she had very little humor in her daily life,” Lee confides. “I did five or six different shows and specials with her, and I think we became very good friends because I was the same way at work. Lucy was just the best. A lot of us showbiz and television people would go over to her house to play charades: Carol Burnett, myself, and others. Lucy was wonderful. She provided everything to make you comfortable, but she never had any food in the refrigerator. Gosh she was great and I just loved her.”

In a tough industry town like Hollywood was, even then, Lee managed with luck. “I was invited by a friend to go see Frank Sinatra at the Mocambo, one of the three great nightspots on the Sunset strip in Hollywood in the 1950s. I had never seen him perform before because I was too young for the heyday, but I had heard all of his recordings. We were sitting at a table for maybe ten or twelve people. I’m watching him, and of course—you have to know that there will never be anybody as mesmerizing as Frank Sinatra…I think my mouth was hanging open the entire time.”

When the performance was over, a waiter brought a note to my table, and it said, Please bring Miss Lee over to my table, I’d like to meet her. I went over, and a gentleman by the name of Arthur Hornblow, Jr. introduced himself to me and told me he was producing a film called Witness for the Prosecution, and that he had just given me a very unique screen test. He was watching me watch Frank Sinatra, and thought I would make a good love interest for Tyrone Power in his film. He said, ‘Would you come and meet Billy Wilder, who is directing the film?’ And I said, ‘Is tomorrow too soon?’ So I went in, they put me on film for my screen test, and I found out that Marlene Dietrich didn’t like me because I was a blonde. Overnight I became a brunette, and that’s how I got the role. Fade in, fade out to the next casting story. Frank Sinatra, being Italian, loved nothing more than having people over to his house for a big pasta dinner and movie night. What do they screen one night? Witness for the Prosecution. Frank decided that he wanted to ask me to be in his upcoming movie with the Rat Pack, Sergeants 3, because of that night’s get together.”

About her fortunate timing and working for decades, she is quick to note, “My belief is that you have to fill the space in the world that you take…put something good back into the world for something good that came your way. Whether that is through good deeds, or through good thoughts that translate into good work somewhere, you must put something back to fill those grains of sand that came into your life to help you. I think that is very important.”

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The Classically Cliburn Gala Evokes Parisian Theme

By Jake Gaines Photography by Joyce Marshall


THE SETTING: Fort Worth’s Ridglea Country Club served as the perfect venue to celebrate the achievements of The Cliburn, a vital part of the cultural landscape in the city and beyond. The evening, with its Passion Paris theme for the Classically Cliburn event, consisted of 440 Cliburn friends and supporters who gathered for the gala celebration that was considered the city’s party of the year.

THE STYLE: The black-tie event featured an elegant reception, evoking the Parisiaenergy of the evening. A sumptuous y seated dinner was served with a très chic Paris supper club theme. Then, the patrons danced to the music of Jimmy Vali and his 13-piece band while classic casino games were also played throughout the evening. The locale, with the décor created by Stage Works and floral decorations by Rusty Glenn Designs, was transformed by capturing the architecture, elegance, and style of the City of Love.

THE PURPOSE: Anne Marie and Doug Bratton chaired the event and Mildred Hedrick Fender served as the honorary chair. The Classically Cliburn gala is the organization’s signature fundraising event. Funds raised secure and enhance Cliburn programs, and strengthen its ability to carry out its mission to advance classical piano music throughout the world. Its international competitions, educational programs, and concert series embody an enduring commitment to artistic excellence and the discovery of young artists.

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