ALWAYS CELEBRATE LIFE

ALWAYS CELEBRATE LIFE

Celebration of Life Luncheon Features Breast Cancer Survivors, Fashions From Julian Gold

By Rob Giardinelli Photography courtesy of Seton Breast Care Center and the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation

THE SETTING: The JW Marriott hotel in Austin was the recent setting of the Celebration of Life luncheon. One of the capital city’s most anticipated annual luncheons, this year’s gathering met the high expectations, with over 400 of Austin’s most notable sociables and philanthropists for a delightful afternoon of fashion, funand fundraising.

THE STYLE: The luncheon-chic crowd kicked off the festivities in style with champagne during a fun and lively cocktail reception, where the fashionable crowd had the opportunity to mingle with one another. The action then moved to the main ballroom for the program and fashion show. Emcee Lauren Petrowski effortlessly kept the audience entertained as they dined on a light lunch and heard words from key event leaders.

Next, came a series of fashion shows sponsored by Julian Gold and Webber Productions. The first show featured some of the over 120 breast cancer survivors and fighters on hand as they modeled their favorite looks down the runway. The second fashion show featured an array of the latest Julian Gold fashions that dazzled the fashionistas, capping off an afternoon of largesse and style.

THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Lara Burns Boyda with Fayruz Benyousef serving as honorary chair, raised funds for the Seton Breast Care Center and the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation, which provides awareness, education, and treatment to women who have breast cancer.

 

MOTOWN’S MAGIC

MOTOWN’S MAGIC

The Kindness Campaign Partners With Grammy Museum To Host Motown’s 60th Anniversary

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Ben Porter

THE SETTING: A private residence in Austin was recently the setting for a special evening that honored one of the world’s most beloved music genres, the soul of Motown. In total, 230 of the city’s most notable philanthropists, sociables, and music lovers were on hand for the Art of Kindness, which celebrated Motown’s 60th anniversary in a special partnership between The Kindness Campaign and the Grammy Museum.

THE STYLE: The winter-chic crowd began the evening with cocktails where guests mingled, sipped cocktails, and brimmed with anticipation of the entertaining night ahead. The music lovers then headed to their seats for the program, conversation, and concert. The program included a Q&A with legendary Motown singer Claudette Robinson, of The Miracles, as well as a live auction that featured such luxe items as the Red Carpet Treatment package that included a VIP tour of the Grammy Museum and tickets for four to Conan, and a Pampering in Paradise private getaway for six in the Caribbean, which fetched the highest dollar amount of the evening. The night was capped off by a surprise concert by Grammy Award-winning musician, Estelle, who brought the crowd to its feet and had them dancing the night away into the wee hours of the morning.

THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Amber Allen and Lawton Cummings, raised over $450,000 for The Kindness Campaign. The Kindness Campaign’s mission is to provide positive and accessible tools to promote emotional health for students based on the core message I Am Enough.

 

TRUE BLUE

TRUE BLUE

Pantone’s color of the year, Classic Blue, is bringing a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit. This spring season, you’ll spot the rich blue hue all over the runway, red carpet, home designs…and abroad. Our style guru, Tori Johnson of  ThesTORIbook.com, is sharing all the ways you can incorporate this color into your daily life.

INTO THE DEEP BLUE

Classic Blue took over the season’s runway. From solids to textures, designers showed off their creations highlighting this year’s favorite color. Carolina Herrera’s Spring 2020 collection featured the shade using whimsical florals, plaid, and abstract fabric designs that are must-have additions for every wardrobe. At Neiman Marcus. Photo courtesy of Vogue.

SWIRLS OF SAPPHIRE

These stunning studs from de Grisogono’s Chiocciolina Collection are sure to stand out among the rest of your fine jewels. The earrings feature an 18K-white gold setting along with icy diamonds and brilliant sapphires. $15,600. Photo and availability courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue.

DINNER UNDER THE STARS

As part of their 10th-anniversary collection, the L’Objet’s Lapis round platter takes serve ware to the next level. The design mirrors the infamous Mediterranean skies along with a luxurious, hand-gilded 24K gold trim. $550. Photo and availability courtesy of L’Objet.

SPRING SWIRL

Equal parts flirtatious and irreverent, the Mary Short Kaftan in Jaipur is an airy, festive dress with oversized ruffled sleeves, a flouncy hem, chic scoop neck top, and optional belt.
We envision wearing it to a wedding, luncheon, or special dinner, can’t you? $995. At Ala von Auersperg.com.

PATTERN’S NEW PLAY

This Salvatore Ferragamo silk scarf with baroque-style prints offers the perfect pop for any ensemble. $395. Photo and availability courtesy of Ferragamo.com.

BLUE JINLU

This original oil painting by Cheng Jinlu is the perfect addition to any modern home. Each work is painted by hand, so no two paintings will be identical. $2,770. Photo and availability courtesy of Neiman Marcus.

SWIVEL IN STYLE

Looking for that living room statement piece? Haute House’s Gia swivel chair is equal parts functional and fashionable. $3,799. Photo and availability courtesy of Neiman Marcus.

CAVIAR, ANYONE?

Transform your skin with natural caviar extract in La Prairie’s Skin Caviar Luxe Cream. Their breakthrough science and ingredients help enhance firmness and elasticity to help turn back the years. $505. Photo and availability courtesy of La Prairie.

FUR SURE THRONE

Pooch sleepovers just got easier with this luxurious trundle pet bed. With crushed velvet upholstery, your four-legged friends will feel right at home. $1,699. Photo and availability courtesy of Haute House.

BLOUSON BEAUTY

Erdem’s Tabetha silk-organza maxi dress is perfect for afternoon spring weddings and garden parties. With a plunging neckline and tiered skirt, this dress is sure to be a crowd favorite. $5,795. Photo and availability courtesy of Net-A-Porter.

RAFFIA SLIPPER

From the office to happy hour, these Malone Souliers Jane raffia loafers can take you all around town. Mix up your typical workwear combinations with this pop of color and texture. $625. Photo and availability courtesy of Bergdorf Goodman.

MEDITERRANEAN ESCAPE

Why not get lost amongst the blue domes in Santorini, Greece, this spring and summer? Oia offers breathtaking architecture and celebrity-approved hotels. Popular accommodations include Canaves Oia Suites and Adronis Luxury Suites. Photo and availability courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler.

ALL ABOUT AGATE

Wow your guests the next time you entertain with this pure solid, silver-plated agate bowl from ANNA New York. Use it as an elevated serving dish or as an accent piece in the kitchen. $475. Photo and availability courtesy of Neiman Marcus.

CLASSIC CRYSTAL

Baccarat’s magnificent crystal creations make the perfect gift any time of year. This extra-large Eye Vase reflects gorgeous blue shades from every angle. $12,500. Photo and availability courtesy of The Menagerie, Austin.

EXOTIC FLAIR

EXOTIC FLAIR

Melanie Vaughan’s German Club Debutante Party In San Antonio

 

By Jake Gaines    Photography by Greg Harrison

 

A German Club debutante party, Evening of Chinese Splendor, honored Melanie Vaughan’s travels to different regions of China that have inspired her over the last two years. She traveled there as part of her operatic vocal training with voice instructor, Dr. Chai Wai Lee of Trinity University. She, with other vocal students, performed at Chinese universities in different cities and provinces in China.

As Melanie had immersed herself in Chinese culture, she was drawn to having a party theme that was very near and dear to her heart. During her travels to China, she grew as a person, and as a singer, and looks forward to returning in the future. Melanie wore a floor-length red dress based upon an authentic Chinese design with a modern, elegant flair. The gown, designed by Nicolas Vilalba, was wrapped with embroidered silk gold dragons imported from Hong Kong and had a traditional Chinese neckline embellished with red and gold crystals.

 

Melanie and her family’s vision for the occasion were brought to life by Billinda Wilkinson and India Rhodes of Wilkinson Rhodes, who created a Chinese ambiance  for the guests. Upon arrival at the Witte Museum, guests were greeted by a magnificent 12-foot long, hand-carved dragon, looming over the entrance guarded by two massive handmade gold Foo Dogs. Red Chinese lanterns dripped from the beams of the entrance as guests approached a 12-foot-high ice carving of a Chinese pagoda flanked on either side by Chinese Warriors, inspired by the Terracotta Army guarding Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum. Surrounding the ice Pagoda were holes drilled to hold shots of
Singapore Sling cocktails for the guests’ enjoyment, while the Lemon Grass Empress martinis were passed upon entry to the venue.

Inside, the venue was transformed to convey the feeling of a drawing-room in a Chinese Palace. Tables were draped with silk tablecloths and surrounded by ornate red chairs. Flowered fans framing red lacquer bars with Melanie’s name painted in Chinese lettering were among the carved dragons and perched atop custom-designed food stations that had curved gold tile roofs inspired by the palaces. Red and white Chinese dragons were also embossed onto the dance floor to add to the distinctive décor.

The honoree’s travels also inspired the food for the evening. Steamed lobster dumplings were served on bamboo trays, and poke bowls were filled with many culinary delights to choose from  such as Asian short ribs over noodles in a jar of smoke, sweet and sour baby back ribs, and spicy meatballs, with red chopsticks provided.  Chocolate and Mochi Xiao Long Bao were served for dessert with milkshakes of ginger, green tea and mango passed for the guests’ pleasure, all of which were created by Cassandra Fine Catering.

COURTING GLAMOUR

COURTING GLAMOUR

Palm Beach’s Brazilian Court Hotel offers the perfect celebrity-style getaway with old school Hollywood glam, according to our fun seeker, Rob Giardinelli.

Photography courtesy of Brazilian Court, author’s archive

There is so much to love about the Brazilian Court Hotel, located in the heart of charming Palm Beach. It’s one of the East Coast’s premier, five-star destinations…a beautiful boutique hotel that offers luxury mixed in with Old Hollywood glamour. Founded in 1926, and restored to its original Roaring 20’s elegance, this 80-room resort is the perfect destination for a host of luxe activities ranging from quick, ritzy getaways to weddings for a hundred guests or so. Best of all, it is a place where you can unplug and recharge…without the jetlag. Yes, JetSet without the jetlag.

The great thing about Palm Beach is that it is easily accessible from the four largest cities in Texas. While Dallas and Houston residents can fly into Palm Beach directly, Austin and San Antonio residents can fly to Ft. Lauderdale, as we did via a quick two-hour flight on JetBlue from Austin. Leaving no detail unturned, the team at the Brazilian Court arranged, after we landed, to have for Go Rentals, a luxury car rental company to have our car waiting with an attendant outside arrivals.  Popping into our luxury SUV, we jetted up I-95, and in about 45 minutes, we were arrived at the famed Brazilian Court.

JAZZ AGE REDUX

Located in a residential neighborhood, we pulled into the Brazilian Court’s porte-cochère, which had the feeling of pulling into a grand Jazz Age estate, and we were promptly greeted by the valet and escorted inside to check-in. The staff, friendly and attentive, offered a series of can’t-miss recommendations that we tried out during our stay.

The porter escorted us through a stunning, leafy outdoor courtyard to our room. As we walked through the halls, we saw miles of walls adorned with vintage photos of celebrities who frequented these halls from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Our accommodations were a chic, bungalow-style room, with a massive private terrace to enjoy the beautiful weather.

After unpacking, famished, we strolled two blocks for dinner at Renato’s. It was an authentic Italian restaurant with an alfresco patio that reminded me of the delectable meals I had on my honeymoon in Rome and Venice…with the Risotto all’Aragosta being a highlight. Overhearing someone from another table mention there was a gelato place next door; we dropped into Piccolo Gelato for a light, refreshing dessert.

Against the backdrop of year ‘round picturesque weather, we savored our sweet treat as we walked to Buccan for a night-cap. An outstanding restaurant in its own right, our concierge, had recommended Buccan as the place where people in Palm Beach go to see and be seen whether it be for dinner or drinks. In the crowded and lively bar, we found two seats from another couple who finished grabbing a late supper and we toasted our first night in Palm Beach with a delectable Buccan T martini and smoked jalapeno margarita.

After a splendid night’s sleep in a king-sized bed with luxe linens, I woke up the next morning, foregoing breakfast and taking advantage of the Brazilian Court Fitness Center to burn off those calories from the night before. The gym, located in a building across the street from the main hotel, has everything you need to stay fit with treadmills, elliptical machines, free weights and medicine balls.

After my workout, we took a tour of this grand hotel with Ian Black, the director of sales and marketing. In touring the space, we learned more about the hotel’s incredible history. Designed by the legendary architect, Osario Candella, the Spanish-style resort is built through not one, but two courtyards–one built upon completion of the original hotel in 1926 and a second one added in 1936.

WORTH IT

The current owners purchased the property in 2002 and set out to restore the hotel to its original grandeur, with some of the rooms maintaining a true 20’s authenticity. In fact, there are even USB-free room options available for those who truly want to unplug and get away from it all, just like the celebrities who frequented the hotel during the 1920s and 1930s.

Many of the suites are aptly named for the plethora of celebrities that occupied them, including: Katherine Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks and Texas-born Joan Crawford, just to name a few. The main reason celebrities and notables frequent the Brazilian Court, then and now, is its close proximity to the action of the main attractions of Palm Beach such as tony Worth Avenue and The Breakers, yet it is far enough away from everything for notables to slip in and out undetected.

After our tour, we strolled down to Worth Avenue, the world-renowned shopping district of Palm Beach. First, everyone is beautifully dressed in brightly-hued colors year ‘round. Second, that attention to detail is evident everywhere in Palm Beach. Located only three blocks from the Brazilian Court, we did some window shopping at many of the luxury brands, including Gucci, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany, and Salvatore Ferragamo before finding a bite for lunch at Ta-boo. Known as the power-lunch place of Palm Beach, we saw that the much-coveted window-front table was available and popped into the restaurant to dine.

The window-front table proved to be the perfect spot to people watch as the chic shoppers strolled up and down Worth Avenue, among them a legendary, Academy AwardÒ-winning actor from the British Isles. While there, we enjoyed the mussel frites and Cobb salad, each the perfect mid-day bite to keep us going. After lunch, we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon of pool-side lounging and siesta while the gentle breeze of the palm trees swayed overhead. There are so many characters who stay at this hotel that eavesdropping the varied conversations of fellow guests is a true pastime here. During the afternoon, the hotel staff arranged for a treatment at the Brazilian Court Salon, where I was treated to my first, and very best, mani-pedi.

DINING DELUXE

We ended the day staying at The Brazilian Court and dined at Café Boulud, the award-winning restaurant of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud. A mainstay in the Palm Beach dining scene since 2003, with additional locations in New York and Toronto, it would impress the most delicate of palettes. 

Opting for a table alfresco to take advantage of the picturesque evening, we enjoyed the five-course tasting menu and wine pairing. The tasting menu, which changes seasonally, offered red pepper risotto and one of my favorite fish dishes, pan-seared grouper. The meal was capped off with the most delectable dessert I have ever experienced at any restaurant, a transcendent grapefruit sorbet, which served as the perfect palate cleanser to an absolutely delectable meal.

Waking up early on our final morning in Palm Beach, we decided to walk to Ocean Drive and up and down the blocks of estates along the Atlantic Ocean for which Palm Beach is famous. Walking down street after street of the eight-figure Gatsby-eque homes, we could see  Old Hollywood influences in many of the homes, which had a Beverly Hills vibe and made me wonder how many of the stars of yesteryear stumbled from the estates’ parties to the Brazilian Court after a night of revelry.

Before taking off for the airport, we decided to grab a final bite at Surfside Diner. Located just a block from the Brazilian Court, it is a small, chic space with an old-style u-shaped counter in the middle. If you want to see a place that offers a slice of what life in Palm Beach is like among the locals, this is the place to go. We saw the proprietor engaging with regulars from 8 to 88, giving each guest the white-glove treatment for which Palm Beach is known.

After our meal, we bid adieu to Palm Beach, where our 48-hours felt like a week. So, the next time you are looking for a quick getaway from Texas to a beautiful, intimate and familiar resort, you must check out the Brazilian Court for a wonderful experience. I cannot wait for my next visit to this paradise.

CONSERVING FOR THE FUTURE

CONSERVING FOR THE FUTURE

Pease Park Conservancy Hosts Second Annual Gala, Past Present Pease

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Matt Lanke

THE SETTING: The Austin Central Library was the recent setting for an evening of fun and fundraising for one of Austin’s most beloved public spaces. The Pease Park Conservancy hosted its second annual event, Past, Present and Pease, which drew 350 of Austin’s most notable sociables, philanthropists and nature lovers for an evening of fun…and fundraising.

THE STYLE: The winter-chic crowd brought indoors the spirit of being outside for the event, with many donning their favorite cold-weather attire including sweaters, sport coats, overcoats, and jackets that were as warm and inviting as the attendees themselves. The evening began with a fun and lively cocktail hour, where the conversation flowed as freely, as the spirits as old friends reacquainted and new friends were made. The patrons then turned their attention to the main stage for the evening’s program which included words from Pease Park CEO Heath Riddles and Outdoor Voices CEO Ty Haney, among others, highlighting the impressive work of the Pease Park Conservancy. The organization is in the midst of revitalizing Pease Park, one of Austin’s most beloved public spaces, with a new vision for it to be brought to life.

THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Morgan Gaddis and Jennifer Skloss, raised over $200,000 for the Pease Park Conservancy. The funds from this event will go directly towards the revitalization of Kingsbury Commons, which will transform how Austinites enjoy the public space in the heart of the city.