LOVE, ACTUALLY

LOVE, ACTUALLY

The Nuptials Of Sarah Elizabeth Requa and Samuel Finley Ewing IV In Carmel

By Lance Avery Morgan

Photography by Liz Banfield

An elaborate engagement proposal would set the stage for the spectacular wedding of Sarah Elizabeth Requa, the daughter of Penny and Paul Loyd, and Jack Requa, and Samuel Finley Ewing IV, the son of Beth and Fin Ewing. The Texans were married at the Redwood Grove at Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel Valley, near a home of the bride’s family. The bride had always dreamt of having her wedding in a ceremony surrounded by family, friends, and sky-high redwood trees. 

 

The bride, from Houston and a graduate of Southern Methodist University, and the groom, from Dallas and a graduate of Texas Tech University, are admittedly opposites that attracted. They have very different preferences in cuisine, entertainment, sports, hobbies, and thermostat settings, according to the bride. “It’s an interesting social experiment at our house, but somehow it just works, and we end up meeting in the middle and enjoying our time together,” mused Sarah Requa Ewing.

When Finley proposed to Sarah, after a courtship of three years, they were visiting her family in Houston. She thought she was getting dressed for a fundraising gala, and as they were about to depart, Finley proposed. A dinner had been planned afterwards with family and friends, who were waiting to celebrate the momentous occasion. “I wanted to make sure that Sarah was completely surprised. I told very few people until just before the big proposal day. Everything worked out better than I could have expected,” shared the groom, Finley Ewing IV. The exquisite wedding, adapted to COVID-19 protocol, was artfully curated by Sarah Fay Egan Events of Dallas, who helmed the nuptial’s logistical and creative planning from near and far. Pastel shades of blue and green, along with the venue’s indigenous Cypress trees, were artfully integrated into the décor. A floral arch, where the bride and groom gathered to exchange their vows, was gorgeously colorful and beamed in the middle of the redwoods’ ambiance, providing the perfect backdrop for the union. The Santa Lucia Preserve is located on 20,000 acres of stunning coastal California landscapes, just a few miles inland from Carmel-by-the-Sea.

The ceremony, officiated by Kit Case, was moving for all who were there to witness it, especially the groom as he saw his future bride for the first time as she walked toward him on the arm of her father, Jack Requa. She was resplendent, wearing an ethereal Monique Lhuillier gown, and a veil adorned with Alençon lace, while carrying a bouquet by Fiona Floral. “I am usually not a crier, but when I saw Sarah come around the corner from behind the giant redwoods, I couldn’t help myself. She looked absolutely stunning, and I felt like the luckiest guy in the world,” said the groom, who wore a custom blue suit. The groom even donned custom made boots by Roma, and also outfitted each of his attendants with custom made boots. 

 

Some of the wedding party were unable to attend due to the pandemic and California’s gathering restrictions, yet they were there in spirit. Jessica Requa Pinnell, the bride’s sister, served as her matron of honor, and the bride was also attended by Christie Loyd, Emma Rose Loyd, Lloyd and Gail Ewing, while Hayden Rome was unable to attend. They wore pale grey dresses and carried bouquets laden with silk ribbon streamers. The best man, Charlie Ewing, the groom’s brother, and groomsman Kelly Loyd were on hand, while the other groomsmen, Harrison Holmes, Matthew Requa, and Dodger Lambourn, were unable to attend. Hudson Pinnell and Parker Pinnell, the bride’s nephews, were the ring bearer. The duo’s dog, Phoebe, was also an attendant, with a specially made floral leash and collar. The couple and their families sent each guest a bottle of champagne and a pair of flutes to toast with them from afar while they watched the wedding ceremony online. 

The weekend’s festivities began with a rehearsal dinner held on the back lawn and poolside of the bride’s parents’ home, with a beautiful view overlooking the Santa Lucia Preserve. Following the ceremony, there was a seated dinner for 24, down from the originally-planned guest count of 350. The theme of nature was effortlessly entwined with the embroidered dinner napkins―female guests had a blue hydrangea, and the mens’ napkins sported a cypress tree design. And, anyone who knows the couple’s families were not surprised to see the groom’s father, Fin Ewing, sing a few songs, while the band, Entourage, provided other entertainment that evening. The bride, who is 25% of Japanese descent, was thrilled that her grandmother (who is Japanese) hand-crafted a thousand origami paper cranes herself that floated above the reception’s dining area, said to represent what the heart desires, offering another unique family tie to the momentous weekend. “This is proof that a small family ceremony can be even more gorgeous than the original plan,” gushed the bride, Sarah Requa Ewing. “We loved how the traditional elements of a large wedding were still perfectly infused into our own version.” 

 

The couple resides in Dallas, where the bride is a freelance artist and the groom is an executive with Ewing Automotive Group. They love to travel together and like to listen to music while playing outside with their dog. Sarah and Finley honeymooned in Cabo San Lucas and plan to visit Italy when international travel resumes. 

CULTURE CURATOR

CULTURE CURATOR

Texas is known for our dynamic personalities. Some are born with it, and for some, it develops over time. Here, our pop cultural chronicler, William Jack Sibley, a fifth-generation native Texan, reveals the almost-lost story behind legendary San Antonio philanthropist, Robert L.B. Tobin, and the extraordinary life he led in Texas…and beyond.

RARIFIED UNIVERSE

It’s no secret that San Antonio’s Robert L.B. Tobin lived an epic life. The opening of the downtown Tobin Center for the Performing Arts has led to an increased interest in the eponymous namesake as a heralded Texas family of vast wealth, stature, and notoriety.

 

Like so many old Texas clans for whom noblesse oblige was an assumed provenance, the Tobins of San Antonio orbited in a highly rarified universe. Robert Tobin’s father, Edgar Tobin, was a World War I flying ace who started the Tobin Aerial Mapping Company (later Tobin Aerial Surveys) to serve the oil and gas industry when no comparable business even existed. His first customer was Humble Oil, which then, of course, evolved into Exxon/Mobil. His wife, Margaret “Mag” Batts Tobin, was the daughter of Robert Lynn Batts, a former University of Texas law professor and Chairman of the U.T. Board of Regents (Batts Hall on the U.T. Austin campus is named for him). He also served as Chief Judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

 

Robert, their only son, born in 1934, was a descendant of the Canary Islanders who founded San Antonio. Very few locals could match his inimitable pedigree. In 1954, when he was just 19, as a sophomore at the University of Texas in Austin, his father and Braniff Airlines founder, Tom Braniff, were killed in a plane crash in Louisiana. Remarkably, at that young age, Robert took over the operation of his father’s company and led it to unprecedented growth (eventually introducing color aerial photography, among numerous other innovations).

 

Diligent, accomplished, assured, and, yes, some would say entitled–Robert Tobin was not a man accustomed to being told no. When he was only 20, he was asked to serve as president of the local Children’s Service Bureau. In addition to becoming a member of the boards of the Worden School of Social Service at Our Lady of the Lake University, the Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the advisory board of the San Antonio Council for Retarded Children, Tobin served as a member of the National Budget and Consultation Committee, and the Santa Rosa Hospital Advisory Board. He also put in his time in the upper echelons of San Antonio’s exclusive social clubs: the Order of the Alamo, the Argyle, the German Club, and the San Antonio Country Club. But, because of his avid interest in the performing arts, he also volunteered to be a stage hand at the Municipal Auditorium, which in his 20s led to his being awarded an honorary member of Local Union No. 76 of Stage Employees. It was an honor he would cherish throughout his life.

 

One couldn’t ask a young man to be a more civic and socially engaged citizen. With his towering stature of six-foot-six, dramatic good looks, thick mane of prematurely graying hair…and a penchant for wearing black capes, Tobin was a strikingly memorable presence wherever he went. But soon after he became the youngest chairman of the Board of Managers of the Bexar County Hospital District, amicable feelings between some San Antonio civic leaders and Young Tobin noticeably transformed.

 

His mother, Mag, was a passionate opera devotee and arts patron, who not only served as the president of the McNay Art Museum but also sat on the board of directors of the New York Metropolitan Opera. In fact, in 1984, she funded the McNay’s Tobin Wing in honor of Robert’s 50th Birthday to house his growing theatre arts collection. Robert Tobin, a generous philanthropist himself, continued the tradition by serving as chairman of the McNay and donated his world-renowned extensive theater-arts collection to the McNay Museum of Art, including more than 8,000 rare books–some published in the early 16th century, 20,000 stage maquettes, and unsurpassed drawings, paintings, and posters, all acquired via an inveterate collector’s matchless taste and discretion.

 

 

RENAISSANCE MAN

Tobin’s views were more global than what San Antonio could offer him at the time. It wasn’t so much that San Antonio stifled his artistic aspirations–on the contrary, San Antonio was never meant to be the end game for Tobin. After a very public, and publicly chronicled, dust-up regarding the building location of the Southwest Medical Center in the early 1960s, the world became his venue. The Tobin’s family friend, Candes Chumney, who identified herself as “the daughter Mag Tobin never had” believes the Medical Center battle soured Robert on his hometown. “Here was a very dignified gay man, who at the time never discussed his sexuality in any open environment. Family and close friends knew, of course, but that kind of personal, frank disclosure simply wasn’t the norm then.”

 

Thereafter, he slowly withdrew from San Antonio’s public, social, and philanthropic scene. San Antonio’s loss was the world’s gain. Obligations and interests in New York, Santa Fe, Spoleto, and European capitals made his local appearances ever rarer. Robert became a managing director of the Metropolitan Opera for some 20-odd years, a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, president of the Spoleto and Glyndebourne Festivals and collaborated with his friend, John O. Crosby, in the early days of building the Santa Fe Opera.

 

As Robert’s health began to decline after a cancer diagnosis in 1990, he returned to his home town of San Antonio to set a course for his continuing legacy of philanthropic support for his various interests, including his beloved McNay Art Museum, the Santa Fe Opera, the arts, and other civic support for San Antonio. In 1998, Robert asked his long-time trusted advisors Leroy G. Denman, Jr. and J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. to oversee his various business and philanthropic endeavors, which after his death in 2000, evolved into The Tobin Endowment.

 

Since Robert’s passing in 2000, visitors to the McNay Art Museum can enjoy not only the Tobin Wing established by Robert’s mother in 1984 to house Robert’s Theater Arts Collection, but visit the new “Tobin Galleries” which opened in 2008 as well. Also, San Antonians enjoy the Tobin Library at Oakwell, the 100 acre Tobin Park and soon, the Robert L. B. Tobin Land Bridge in Phil Hardberger Park, among many other gifts by The Tobin Endowment in honor and memory of Robert Tobin. Under the leadership of the late Leroy G. Denman, Jr. and Chairman of The Tobin Endowment, J. Bruce Bugg, Jr., The Tobin Endowment has contributed over $65 million to the arts since 2000, including a $15 million naming gift to build The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio.

 

In fact, under the leadership of the late Leroy G. Denman, Jr. and J. Bruce Bugg, Jr., Chairman of The Tobin Endowment, The Tobin Endowment has contributed over $65 million to the arts since 2000, including a $15 million naming gift to build The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio. In 2017, in recognition of The Tobin Endowment’s philanthropic work in the State of Texas, it received the Texas Medal of the Arts by the Texas Cultural Trust.

 

In addition, The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, established shortly before Robert’s death in 2000, has donated rare costumes and design materials to The University of Texas, San Antonio, among other gifts, and published a history of stage design and technology. Months before his death, Tobin personally donated more than 30 paintings by Robert Indiana, Paul Cadmus, Joan Mitchell, and other notable American artists to the McNay.

 

The former manager of the Argyle and Board Chairman of the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, Mel Weingart, was a close confidante of both Mag and Robert. He lived for a time in the Tobins’ side-by-side Manhattan townhomes on Park Avenue and managed their New York dealings. “I think Robert would be in seventh heaven about the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts,” Weingart said. “He was humble. He would have never sought out name recognition on his own. This is a way to acknowledge the person and the family, who, for a significant period of time, honorably represented the city in the art world in a profound and noteworthy way.”

 

ESTABLISHING A LEGACY

Indeed. Visionary, aesthetic, discerning, and a consummate patron, Robert L.B. Tobin gave, and continues to give, more to his hometown than even he could possibly have conceived some 20-years since his passing. Iris Rubin, a close confidante and University of Texas college chum of Tobin’s, declared that “Robert was blessed with taste, intelligence, and the ability to apply it all successfully. He was a citizen of the world. We were lucky he was from here and especially fortunate that he graced our city with the gifts that he ultimately did.”

 

  1. Bruce Bugg, Jr. shared his memories of the man behind the legend. “Robert Tobin was a virtual kaleidoscope of so many interests. He had an intimidating public persona–as people remembered him wearing his black capes–yet in private, he was a kind and compassionate man, of keen intellect, whether in business, the performing and visual arts, or whatever topic a guest might wish to discuss. He had a wicked sense of humor, christened by a dry wit–he was a wonderful person as anyone lucky enough to have known him knew all too well–he is missed but remembered for his ongoing generosity to San Antonio and the arts he so loved.”

 

The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, in the heart of downtown San Antonio, continues to thrive as a favorite venue of world-class performances and events. The eponymous Robert L.B. Tobin Society is the inspiration for recognizing those who support The Tobin Center. Membership in it provides the opportunity to join fellow community, philanthropic, and cultural leaders who demonstrate support for The Tobin Center and the legacy of its namesake.

 

For more information, visit McNayArt.org and TobinCenter.org.

LARGER THAN LIFE

LARGER THAN LIFE

Tireless fundraiser and society style icon, Houstonian Becca Cason Thrash, is known for many things, with being a legendary hostess for a myriad of regional and international causes topping the list of her many talents.

Elegant, ebullient, and always successful, she ensures these events are illustrious for not only doing good for so many, but also as memorable adventures. Join OUR Lance AVery Morgan as we venture to Mexico City, by way of Paris, for the decade’s latest Thrash Bash.

Photography by Alejandro Celez and Iván de la Luz

THE FUN IN FUNDRAISING

It was destined to be. Becca Cason Thrash’s heart was deeply affected when she saw Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris burning in April of 2019. Within the flames of her own heart, as she viewed the tragedy, she reacted immediately and committed to helping fundraise for the re-building of one of the most significant architectural landmarks in the world. She had been approached before the tragedy to help raise much- needed funds for the restoration, and after the fire, that motion was fast-forwarded. Thrash, like the rest of the world, viewed it as a catastrophe that anyone who knows Paris can confirm: it rattled the soul of the City of Love. Never believing in borders, Thrash sprang into immediate action and did what she does best: she hosted an astonishing weekend of events for the fabled structure, outside of France, in Mexico City, to encourage high-level donations for the restoration of the Cathedral.

“To replicate those medieval materials, some of them almost 900-years old, and to re-create the manufacturing of such stones, metals, and patina would be cost-prohibitive after the fire,” confides Becca Cason Thrash. “So, the Notre-Dame team called and asked, ‘Please, we really need your help.’” She continues, “I said, ‘I’ll do it, but under one condition.’ I’m not bringing everybody back to France because I’ve hosted five fundraising events there for the Louvre, and I’ve always wanted to do something in Mexico City. So, if you’ll allow me to create a fundraiser, I’ll do it my own way, in my own style, and with my list. They said yes, and we were off to the races.”

Thrash is certainly no novice to fundraising and is absolutely not a stranger to hosting epic fundraising events on an international level. After all, she continues to raise millions and millions for the Musée de Louvre and Venetian Heritage organizations. Never one to rest on her own successful fundraising laurels, Harlingen native and Houston resident, Thrash, was inspired to create a multitude of new experiences for the latest Notre-Dame gala endeavor. The 12th-century Gothic structure would rise again, thanks in part to Thrash’s gala expertise.

It’s that point of view that earned Thrash the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 2011 for her philanthropic talents at home and abroad, her tireless fundraising for the Louvre, and her ongoing championing of Franco-American relations. Becca Cason Thrash has a natural affinity for international culture, including Latin culture. She was raised in South Texas and lived in Mexico City while working for Vogue En Español, as she started her career in marketing. These experiences prepared her for a very public life both in Houston and across the globe.

Perhaps Thrash’s most important secret to entertaining at a high-level is the energy of the room she encourages based on the invitation list. Highly curated, like Thrash’s couture wardrobe, her secret sauce is having a mix of guests. She always schedules time to focus on the laborious task of creating a seating chart for the coterie of international jetsetters, philanthropists, business leaders, contemporary art collectors, and social swells. Preparation, preparation, preparation.

Thrash readily admits she’s hosted countless more events in Houston for a plethora of her passionate causes, ranging from Best Buddies, on which she serves as a board member, to the Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, The Menil Collection, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Holocaust Museum Houston, and many, many more charitable and civic organizations of all kinds. Whether hosting at her home, or in monumental international venues, her events attract hundreds of guests who arrive to support five-star cultural institutions with an intention to also have fun. Her fundraising, by the Thrash’s estimation, is likely north of $100 million so far, and that might be a conservative assessment. “People support people. It’s that simple,” shares Thrash about her hard-won fundraising success. “Plus, to me, it’s so important to have a uniquely, hand-selected, and eclectic mix of guests. I know everyone who is walking in the door that evening. They must be fun, interesting, generous, and bring their own brands of enthusiasm to the party. It doesn’t matter if they are moguls or not. They know why they are there…to have a one-of-a-kind time…and to raise money. People support the charity, of course, but people really support people.”

 

THE BEST OF EVERYTHING

The planning, like all of Thrash’s previous social triumphs, begins early, with months and months of advance preparation…and doesn’t end until the last guest has successfully departed. Mexico, a favorite locale of Thrash’s, is known for its colorful celebrations, and these, with Thrash’s own colorful personality, are a perfect combination of elements. Only the best will do. “I made seven trips to Mexico City to prepare all the details and met with many people including the six hosts and dear friends who opened their homes and collections for the special weekend,” Thrash confides. As in galas past, fellow Houstonian Richard Flowers, and his event design team of five, were enlisted to bring Thrash’s vision to life. Locally in Mexico, Diego Del Río Zepeda and his team were on hand to collaborate for the events’ success. The best tableware, flatware, linens, and flowers, thousands upon thousands of flowers, would need to be implemented to create the regal setting for this triumphant to-do.

Before the Mexican soirées, the fundraising efforts actually began in Houston, with a preview dinner event hosted by Steak 48, the hot Houston eatery that could accommodate the 160-plus guest list. Thrash proudly donned her favorite Zara sequined dress, instead of couture, and added a million dollars of Van Cleef & Arpels jewels to complete her hosting ensemble. The grand total raised for the kick-off night was $100,000.

 

ONWARD TO MEXICO CITY

One hundred and fifteen guests, paying $6,000 per ticket, began arriving in Mexico City from Paris, Vienna, Milan, London, NYC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, and an equal number of glamorous, enthusiastic Texans from across the state, and especially from Thrash’s hometown turf of Houston.

Now, where to place each of the guests attending the soirée? No problem. Thrash arranges seating charts like an eminent chess expert at a championship match: play to win as if it was the most important thing to accomplish. Having attended and chronicled many Thrash Bashes, I can attest she will place a guest next to a fellow participant that the guest will invariably find interesting and remarkable in their life’s pursuits. This cadre of attendees at the Mexico affair would be no different.

The three-day series of events began with an intimate dinner hosted by the French Ambassador to Mexico, Anne Grillo, at her residence in Mexico. Her Excellency greeted the internationally-based guests upon their arrival. The Embassy of Mexico in France, based out of Paris, is the primary diplomatic mission from the United Mexican States to France. It also represents Mexico to the Principality of Monaco, as well as to the Council of Europe. The palace itself is resplendent with a abundance of both French and Latin culture.

The next day an alfresco afternoon luncheon was held in the exquisite home of megawatt art collectors Tato and Gaby Garza. Guests chatted and mingled, admiring the art everywhere they turned in the residence. Chapultepec castle, the Frida Kahlo home, Casa Azul, the Diego Rivera collection at Anahuacalli, and the home of famed artist Pedro Friedberg were just a few of the stops made by the well-heeled crowd. Additional visits, cocktail receptions, and other dinners were arranged in the homes of Mexican entrepreneur Sergio Berger, along with Rodman Primack, and Rudy Weissenberg.  Stopping by the Barragan stables, designed by renowned Mexican architect Luis Barragan, was also a delightful treat for the attendees.

 

VIVA BECCA

The last evening’s fête was widely anticipated. Hosted by Eugenio Lopez, the sole heir to the Jumex fruit-juice fortune, he is considered to be one of the world’s top 200 art collectors. In his extraordinary, art-filled mansion, cocktails and canapes were served as guests chatted and greeted each other. The attendees were dazzled by the white glove-served, five-course seated dinner, but most especially by the extraordinary design and architecture.

These ancillary events bookended the high point of the weekend, La Grande Nuit, as Thrash titled it. Held in the Casino Español–a 19th century building in the Districo Histórico, complete with a 60-foot Tiffany ceiling and a Grand Salon rivaled only by Versailles itself. The venue was decorated as a million-dollar raising gala should be: over the top. Guests descended a grand staircase upon their arrival, fitting for both the venue and the occasion. Following the lavish, multi-course dinner, Becca Cason Thrash took center stage, donned in a beaded Naeem Khan gown, topped with a fuchsia Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda full-length coat and plenty of her own, favorite jewels, and presided over the live auction like the pro she is.

For those who have never seen Thrash in action, as she passionately raises funds for events dear to her heart, it’s a tour de force to behold. A financial goal always in mind, Thrash knows how to read an audience. Part of that special skill is to understand what guests would be interested in buying at a live auction, from art to fashion, to experiences. Then, she goes about acquiring them with supporting brands she knows well, thus promoting these brands with this elevated exposure. Uber collector Eugenio Lopez prevailed on the final bid for a five-night cruise in Egypt on the private yacht owned and donated by Parisian designer Christian Louboutin. Houstonian Lynn Mathre bid the highest on a Naeem Khan bespoke gown and Buccellati necklace. British artist Chris Levine’s limited edition of a gold-dusted portrait of Queen Elizabeth, along with ten lots of art, trips, and jewelry, took in more than $700,000 in less than, yes, fifteen minutes. Talk about light speed for a live auction that can often exhaust audiences at other galas for an hour or more. To make the weekend even more special, Thrash was surprised with a mini birthday celebration amidst the revelry.

Among the decidedly stylish notables were the French Ambassador, Anne Grillo, the Former Minister of Culture, Sari Bermundez, along with Sergio Berger, Christine Holzer, Alejandra Redo, Rodman Primack, Rudy Weissenberg, Lucas Somoza, Ben Aguilar, Andres Carretero, and Guillermo Ordorica. Other bold-faced names in the crowd included Duran Duran’s John Taylor and his fashion icon wife, Gela Taylor, who jetted in from London, blue-chip art collector Tracey Amon from Paris, Christopher Forbes from New York,  collector Eva Dichand from Vienna, Kathleen von Alvenslebenn from Berlin, and philanthropist Joseph Blount from Palm Beach. Amin Jaffer, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on jewels in from Paris, to name a few. The world’s foremost expert on royal jewels was joined by notables hailing from Texas, including collectors Christen and Derek Wilson from Dallas. Sixty of the more than 115 guests supported the Thrashes from Houston, including Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Reggie and Leigh Smith, Leslie and Russ Robinson, Barbara and Michael Gamson, and many more, along with John Thrash, Becca’s beloved husband, and thirty Mexico City notables.

The action always seems to move to the dance floor to keep the party going. Songstress and ingénue Jane Fontaine, from Los Angeles, entertained guests at the after party that went into the wee hours of the next morning. Seen on the dance floor were Randy Powers and Greggory Burk, Rose and Dave Capobianco, Tony Bradfield, Marc and Duyen Nguyen, Fred Heredia and Cassidy York, Elizabeth and Will Galtney, Valerie Fuller and Andree Aboolian, while the Mexican artist Denise de las Rue was spotted in deep conversation with Ford Hubbard.

By the end of the action-packed weekend, more than $1.3 million had been raised for the restoration efforts of Notre-Dame de Paris, the venerable 850-year-old symbol of French culture. “If you create a once-in-a- lifetime experience for guests that they are happy to support, then its win for them and the charity,” confides Becca Cason Thrash. “So that is what I’ve always tried to do:  focus on the experience. Like my events that have had Tom Brady, George Clooney, Cindy Crawford, Prince Albert, Duran Duran, Marc Anthony, and many other similar honorary guests and celebrities, not to mention Willie Nelson playing in her great room to benefit Best Buddies one evening…people will show up. Let’s face it…people want the experience of being a part of something special, and so I try to give that to them.”

EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE

EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE

Fashion looks to the past, as the 80s vibe ignites this year. Here’s a wildly fresh take on old favorites as you begin to socialize more in the times ahead. Ruffles are more feminine, necklines are more innovative, and silhouettes are more glamorous than what we saw in the Reagan years. So, now it all feels new to us, as we channel our inner Cindy Crawford, and we wanna dance with somebody in these fresh frocks, don’t you?

Photography by Mark Oberlin                Styling by Dion “Bleu” Drake

 Hair: René Cortez using The Wet Brush, Ibiza round brushes

Makeup: Erik Torppe using Charlotte Tilbury

Model: Dillon    Agency: Nomad Management, LA

Sittings Producer: Lance Avery Morgan

IN FULL BLOOM

IN FULL BLOOM

The modern woman is a boss. She’s large and in charge of her own destiny. That’s why we love the powerful floral and 80s trends reflected in this season’s fashion frenzy. Familiar and comforting, fashion is the ultimate expression of the art collection that you wear. So, why not be a work of art this spring with this gorgeous inspiration to keep you blossoming from dusk ‘til dawn?

 

Photography by Mark Oberlin                Styling by Dion “Bleu” Drake

 

Hair: René Cortez using Oribe Maximista and Ibiza round brush.

Makeup: Tatiyana Elias using Olio E Osso and Odacite

Makeup Assistant: Katie Grigg

Model: Ceca, Two Management

Sittings Producer: Lance Avery Morgan

QUEEN BEE

QUEEN BEE

When Houstonian Lynn Wyatt, the gregarious, international socialite, philanthropist, speaks…people listen. And, for good reason. She knows everyone and has entertained more potentates, aristocrats, and tycoons than just about anyone in her rarified constellation of friends.

 

Forget oil. She’s the greatest natural resource Texas has. Here, in an exclusive, Lance Avery Morgan and Rob Giardinelli, share an interview that takes us inside the world of this living, loveable legend. 

 

Photography by John Conroy    Styling by Summar Salah

Make-up by Tonya Riner   Production Asst: Mallory Miller

Sittings Producer: Lance Avery Morgan

Beginning in the 1960s, when it came to representing Texas on an international social level, the man for the job…would be a woman. Lynn Wyatt. With her striking blonde hair, flawless porcelain complexion, and small frame that is eclipsed by only her gregarious personality, Call Me Lynn, is a phrase spoken by Wyatt that’s been heard in the most fashionable Jet Set circles since the mid-20th century and will likely be for decades more.

The spirited grande dame, who is anything but stodgy, has so positively represented this state that it could easily be renamed The Republic of Lynn. Her elegance has been emulated for years and will be for plenty more to come, as the young and young-at-heart worship her heightened personal style, entertaining largesse and attitude that everyone’s welcome as-long-as-their-fun point of view toward life is brought to the party.

Fun, as Wyatt often says, is her favorite word. And, she’s serious about it. If you’re not having fun, you’re killing time, so we caught up with La Lynn to learn more about her stunning life well-lived that includes her husband, Oscar Wyatt, and four sons, Steven Bradford Wyatt, Douglas Bryan Wyatt, Oscar Sherman “Trey” Wyatt III, and Bradford Allington Wyatt.

LANCE AVERY MORGAN: Lynn, we’re here in the beautiful study of your palatial home. We’re honored to be here and love knowing you because you have made such a difference to the world on so many levels. And, so we want to thank you, first of all, for doing that. Okay, let’s jump in. What has motivated your life in philanthropy to help others at a high level?

LYNN WYATT: Thank you very much. It is so lovely to have you both here. With philanthropy, I have the greatest admiration for people who contribute so many different ways voluntarily. No matter how we serve, it is the desire to be useful in helping other people that matters most.  

ROB GIARDINELLI: Not only do you possess great style while raising funds for so many international organizations, but you’ve also made a career out of it. What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who’s chairing their first gala or throwing their first very first dinner party to really make it a spectacular, memorable affair?

LYNN: What a great question. First, have a variety of guests: some whom know each other and some who do not know each other. I like to seat one person they know on one side and one that they don’t on the other side. Also, I never place husbands and wives together.

RG: What’s the reason for not putting husbands and wives next to each other?

LYNN: I realized that if a husband and  wife are next to each other, they don’t talk to each other. Instead, they’re talking to the person on the other side of them.  They need a rest from their spouse, so by placing them apart it  leads to more interesting table conversation.

RG: I agree with that. I also love the tradition in Texas, and certainly, in Europe, that gentleman change places at dessert to speak to other guests at the table. They can choose to sit by others, whom they would also like to know.

LYNN: I think that’s fascinating. Sometimes, I will have men move two places over…usually before dessert because I don’t want people walking around all the time. And, there are still two people on the other side of them that haven’t spoken to each other yet.

LAM: We were talking earlier about your theory to good conversation. What’s one of your favorite conversations starters, for instance, at a dinner party with a complete stranger when you’re seated next to a tycoon of industry?

LYNN: I would ask, what are you doing that is interesting in your field, or what you are doing now that motivates you? I’d love to hear about it. Usually, people give you honest answers that way.

LAM: Speaking of conversation points, what was it like growing up in the legendary Sakowitz store retail environment and what did you learn that you applied to the rest of your life?

LYNN: When I was going to high school, everybody thought that I got my clothes for free and I said, ‘No way.’ My mother said, ‘if I was working at the store, I would get a 20% discount just like every other employee’. No, I never got anything for free. So the first time I went to try on clothes, my mother told me, ‘Go and pick out the things that you want and bring them into the dressing room to make sure they all fit.’ I was so excited and finally, after we were there for two hours in the dressing room, she said, ‘You can only have five outfits.’ I was disappointed, but it made me really think about what I could wear. I thought I would pick this skirt to put with that blouse. This sweater can go with the same skirt and this belt to go with this, and so on. It taught me how to mix things up and have fun with it. It was because of that, I started experimenting with things. So much so that as my mother got older, she’d asked me to come over and help her pick out things for her to wear. She was a wonderful woman. Really lovely.

LAM: I was honored to meet your mother, Ann Sakowitz, years ago. What a true lady, proving the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

LYNN: Well, thank you. She had a fabulous sense of humor. And, she played Gin Rummy and beat the hell out of every man.

LAM: So, that’s where you get your sense of humor?

LYNN: Thank you. Probably. She made everybody laugh. And you know, after I got older, I realized how wonderfully lucky I was to have parents who were so kind. I mean, after learning what goes on in the world that I didn’t know at that time. I was so thankful and grateful. Plus, my brother and I are very close. He went to St. John’s, which had just opened when I was at San Jacinto High School. My parents wanted me to change and go  to St. John’s, which I didn’t want to do because all of my friends were at San Jacinto.

RG: Weren’t you a cheerleader there?

LYNN: You do your homework. I remember that this boy had a crush on me and I sort of had a little crush on him.  He was playing football, but wasn’t a big football player, like the quarterback, yet every time he would do something good, I said, “well, I’m going to do a big cheer for you.”

PEERLESS STYLE

LAM: You seem to be everyone’s cheerleader, Lynn. What is one style tip you would give to someone who’s invited to a party with a theme?

LYNN: I would say to try to dress accordingly to the theme as best as you can, but try to be a bit original. And, if not original, clever.

RG: Do you like costume parties?

LYNN: Not especially. Well, sometimes I like them. Instead of kooky costumes, I like pretty. Am I going to have a giant pumpkin costume? That’s not me. No, no, no. But, if it is a theme, I’ll try to carry out the theme. I think I have several costumes up in my attic somewhere. When somebody gets an invitation to a costume party, it is a lot of pressure. When I had birthday parties every year, I would have a theme, and everybody would ask me around Christmas time, what is the theme of your party next year? And it would be something like pink. Yes, one time the theme was Think Pink. I always had a seated birthday dinner, placed, with a buffet. One time the Prince (Rainier) rang that he’d be at the party. I sat him at the head of the table and I said, ‘Monsignor, I don’t see any pink on you.’ He picks up his foot and his socks are pink. I said, Thank the Lord. Otherwise, I was going to send you home.

LAM: What’s fascinating to me is that you’ve entertained so much over the years and you’ve done it so beautifully. What is the key ingredient to the perfect party for you?

LYNN: That’s easy. First of all, be at the front door and greet every guest, look them in the eye and say, I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for accepting my invitation. Let them know how truly happy you are that they came.

RG: You’ve been in a lot of doorways, welcoming a lot of people into your world.

LYNN: No question. You eventually go into the living room. But, always stay at the door, no matter what, until every guest has arrived.

LAM: One party, one great gathering that we want you to share is your experience at The Battle of Versailles in 1973, the big fashion event you attended where French and American designers collaborated–and competed–for the first time. Did you think that  was a special occasion of gathering both the French  and  American designers?

LYNN: Absolutely. I was very, very honored to be invited.

LAM: It really put American designers on the map at that super high level to be on par with the French designers, don’t you think?

LYNN: Yes. I was really good friends with Bill Blass, who showed there. I would also stay with him in his New York City  house  and he would always have great food that he would cook himself. He had a lovely country house in the woods that had a lovely garden. You’d come upon an area and there’d be a fabulous statue that seemed like it should be in his house or something. He was such a great, great conversationalist and he loved my husband, Oscar. Oh, they would talk on the phone about politics all the time. Everything that Oscar would say, he’d agree with. I was very honored to be in his guest room many times.

RG: Not only was he an incredible designer, but he had impeccable taste.

LYNN: That’s right. And you know what, we never, ever discussed clothes even though he was such a prolific designer. I read one time that he said, ‘That’s what I like about Lynn. We didn’t talk about clothes and that’s a sign of our great friendship.’ He was such a gentleman.

RG: Tell us about how your own personal style was formed.

LYNN: I’ve always said to myself that there’s a way to dress: with class, with a bit of dash, but never trash. Also, I say, always trust the mirror. You know, why? The mirror never lies.

LAM: You’ve been a muse of so many designers. Tell us about some of your favorite ones, past and present.

LYNN: I was fortunate to go to the collections every year when Yves St. Laurent was alive. My husband told me, ‘I want you to go over to Paris.’ He was on his way to the Middle East and he would drop me off in Paris on the way. I had friends there and they were always giving parties. I was at The Ritz and across the street, as you know, is the Chanel store. I went over there and chose some things, off the rack, not made to measure. I was in the fitting room and the curtain was pushed away. This lady comes in and says, ‘Oh, so you’re the Texan?’.And, I said, yes. Then she left. And I asked the salesgirl, ‘Is that who I think it was? Mademoiselle Chanel?’ And they said, yes, it was Mademoiselle. She must have been 90.

RG: Wow. So Coco Chanel came into your dressing room?

LYNN: That’s right. She had heard that a Texas girl had come in to have some things made to measure. I was so honored that she took the time to see who I was.

LAM: You were an early adopter of burgeoning fashion designers, too, with French designer André Courrèges in the 60s, as an example. You’re a forward thinker with fashion.

LYNN: Well, thank you for saying that. I don’t think of myself like that, but I appreciate it. He was actually my first made to measure designer. I hadn’t had any made to measure before then. I knew him well and he was so advanced.

LAM: I believe Sakowitz was the first store to carry him and his designs in the U.S.?

LYNN: That’s right. I came back from seeing him in Paris and I told my brother, ‘You have to go see him there.’ He flew over to see his talent and when he returned, he said, ‘We’re going to put a Courrèges shop in the store.’ It sold like gangbusters. He was the right designer for the right time.

LAM: I understand that standing for couture fitting sessions, or made to measure, is grueling.

LYNN: It is. They measure everything: your knuckles, your ear, half of your finger and the other half of your finger. And there’s someone that reads the measurements aloud in order to build a mannequin body exactly like mine from the bust to the hips to the legs, so it has to be perfect. It is so that you don’t have to stand for hours. When I first started, I learned that I had to come back for four fittings. I said, listen, I live in Houston, Texas. I am not going to fly to Paris just for fittings.’

LAM: You’re a busy woman, you had a lot of things to accomplish. You were also raising a family.

LYNN: Right. So then I would go and they’d have all of it done except to correct a few things here and there and they’d send it back to me in boxes. Huge boxes. I mean you would’ve thought that there was a human being in there because of the way they were packed so perfectly. All the tissue paper, it was fabulous.

LAM: Speaking of your busy years, you’re a sharpshooter. In fact, there’s a great piece of art on your terrace that has both you and Annie Oakley on each side. If you could compete in any Olympic sport, would it be shooting?

LYNN: I don’t shoot anymore. On our honeymoon, we went to the Middle East for two weeks. Oscar never takes off more than a week for something. He’s at work right now. At 95, he’s still a workaholic. 

We first went to the Middle East because I’d never been there. The museums we went to were fabulous. Then, on the second part, we went on a bear hunt. The juxtaposition of things is what I love. I love to do something that’s the complete opposite of what I just did. It feels so inspiring and new.

LAM: You stay really active and are in such great shape to keep up with your very busy lifestyle. What are some of your secrets to staying fit and trim?

LYNN: You know, I didn’t want to go to a gym. For many years I’ve had many exercise trainers. When I went to the South of France for the summer, I had a girl and a boy that were from there and each one would do different things. I would do kickboxing, which I love. I can protect you.

LAM: I’ll bet you can. I’m betting that started in the 70s and 80s. What were some of your favorite moments from that era?

LYNN: I was fortunate to have had a villa in the South of France. Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco were very dear friends. I spent three months away every summer and it was fabulous. The nightclub, Regine’s, was the rage then. It started in Paris. Then, she went on to open one in Monte Carlo and also in the South of France. Our friends always had seated, black-tie dinners in those days. Oh, it was fabulous. Then everyone would go home to change clothes and go back to Regine’s. They had a pool that you could just dabble your hand in the water while you were sitting in one of those banquettes… while the music played just above the small dance floor. If you were sitting maybe ten feet away from your guest you could still talk to each other. It was so advanced to know how to do that. We’d dance the Frug and the Monkey. Nightclub culture started there, no question. We’d dance until dawn. It was Studio 54 before Studio 54.

LAM: Sounds like my kind of party and the place to be where the height of the international Jet Set was then. 

LYNN: I’ll say. I remember there was a duchess one time who said, ‘I want to introduce you to French society.’

LAM: This already sounds like a French farce waiting to happen.

LYNN: It was. There was a wonderful gentleman who was very highly ranked–more than a prince. And, he said, ‘I want to play a joke on the Duchess. She wants to introduce you to society, but, I’m going to say that I’ve known you for a long time. Go along with it.’ I said, okay. She introduced me by saying, ‘I want to introduce you to Lynn Wyatt, my friend from Houston, Texas.’ He said, ‘I thought that was you, I was hoping that you would be here.’ He put his arms around me, then hugged her…and she looked back at me completely amazed.

LAM: Because of your close friendship with Princess Grace and Prince Rainier, you’re part of the Princess Grace Foundation. You’ve done such good work on an international level, obviously beyond Texas. You told me how Cary Grant would call you personally, to speak with you about being involved with the foundation and its annual gala. Tell us about that experience.

LYNN: When Princess Grace died, it was so tragic. She was on her way to meet me in Paris when it happened. Three months later, I got a call from the Prince. He said, ‘Lynn, I want you to be a founder of the Princess Grace Foundation.’ I was so honored. I said, I don’t even live in France. He said, ‘I want you to be part of it. She loved you and you were such dear friends.’ So I thought, I’ll do it. But, you know, the first time you do anything, you have to hit the ball out of the park or they won’t want you to come back to the game the next time.

RG: There were some heavy hitters who were on the Foundation’s board like Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Princess Caroline, Princess Stephanie, Mary Wells Lawrence, and you. How did you approach a first-ever event like that?

LYNN: Some guy who was very important contacted me and said, ‘I want to help you.’ I said, You know, I want to do this on my own, because if something goes wrong, it is only my fault. And I know the way I want to do things and that’s the way I’ll do it. I decided to do it, instead of in New York where everybody has parties every night, in Washington D.C. Ronald Reagan was the president at the time. I had three price tags for the tickets. For the most expensive, you would go to everything. For the lesser price ticket, it was more limited, and so on. Nancy Reagan would be there, which was a draw. So we put on a show for them that was a seated dinner with Julio Iglesias who performed, with a luncheon, and other events. It was fabulous. I have to say, now this is bragging a little, but I have to say it has been said that never in all these 45 years since has as much money been raised as we made on that one.

LAM: One thing I know, that a lot of people don’t know, is that you have a very famous friendship with Elton John and he adores you. You’ve often attended his White Tie and Tiara charity ball at his place in England. Tell us about what that’s like for you since you’re such close friends.

LYNN: I am always very honored to stay at his house. He has a huge estate and he puts up a big tent. The first time he did it was wonderful. Now, it has grown and the tent is huge. He has fabulous people. I’ve met lovely, lovely people there and he is the most generous man. I’ve never met a more generous man than he is, and I’m so flattered that he always seats me at his right. He has wonderful entertainment. And it is something that I truly look forward to every year in the summer.

HOW TO BE A WORK OF ART
RG: One of the many characters you’ve known is Andy Warhol. You were lucky enough to have done a photo session with him in the late 70s. What was that collaboration process like and what is it like to have your image immortalized by someone so revered in the art world?

LYNN: I was fortunate enough to have several famous artists who wanted to paint my portrait and I kept saying, no, I don’t have the time. Then, I met Andy and we became very close friends. In The Andy Warhol Diaries, which I have on the shelf there, it shows that Andy was very kind about me. I thought that Andy was the John Singer Sargent of my generation and it was a fabulous experience. And, I love my paintings.

RG: You are certainly one of his most dynamic subjects, that’s for sure. There are very few people who were photographed by him at that high level. I love your portraits.

LYNN: Thank you. He did four. I have two. He told me, ‘Lynn, you don’t want the other two?’ And I said, no. He said, ‘Why? You know, it is the same face but different colors that match each other. That’s the way I do it.’ I said, I know, but I just don’t think I could live with four more Lynn Wyatt’s in this house. That would make five. I found out years later when I was visiting friends in Southampton, and my host said, ‘I want to show you some things because this man collects Warhols. Loads of them. They want you to come over and see them.’ So, I said, sure, I’d love to see them.

LAM: The Warhol plot thickens.

LYNN: I’ll say it did. I went there and the wife said, ‘I want to give you a tour of the house.’ There was an Andy Warhol in every room. Then, I go into their bedroom and over their bed are the other two Lynn Wyatt portraits. I said, ‘That is terrible. You let your husband do that?’ She said, ‘It was me who told him to put up the paintings there.’ I said, ‘Well, you flatter me. You made my whole weekend.

LAM & RG: We love that. We’ve had an experience with a Warhol as well, at a very important business lunch at the Lever House in Midtown Manhattan, with people who knew we were from Texas. As we walked to our table at the very end of the restaurant, all we could see was your portrait at a distance. We thought, surely we’re not going to sit under Lynn Wyatt’s Warhol portrait. That would be too good to be true. And sure enough, we were seated under the Lynn Wyatt Warhol, which I guess now, in retrospect, was a copy. But it sure proved to be a very good omen for the meeting.

LYNN: Isn’t that fun. I’m donating mine to The Museum of Fine Arts here in Houston. They’re also building a theatre because I’m very heavily involved in the organization. It is called the Lynn Wyatt Theatre. They’re going to put the portraits up there. They’ve taken pictures of them, and I’ll have them until I die at which time the museum will receive the originals. And there will be a park, too.

LAM: You are too modest, Lynn. I think you’re referring to the Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts in downtown Houston. Most people are saying it will be the soul of the city because you feel that the performing arts are the soul of the city.

LYNN: Oh my God, I was so honored. I mean, I started crying. They said this block, it is a whole darn block, is going to be named for me because I’m involved in all the performing arts. Then one of my boys said, ‘Mom, that’s going to go on long after you’re gone. It’ll go through posterity.’

RG: We’ll be here cheering you on when it opens.

LYNN: Thank you, thank you. Well, I hope I’m here, too. Gosh, it will be gorgeous. I was so flattered.

LAM: What a treat to sit with you here, Lynn, and to hear your wonderful stories about past, present, and really, the future because you’re just warming up and we’re so excited to know you. We’re honored that you’re our state’s international ambassador on so many levels. So thank you for being you.

LYNN: I am so honored that you even chose me for this marvelous opportunity. They were very thoughtful questions―you did your homework and I feel blessed that you asked me to answer them and our photoshoot has been divine. It sounds so corny when I say this, but I’m so thankful and grateful for my life…and to be able to go over all these memories about the people that I love and know today. I’ve been blessed, I really know I have, and I thank the Lord as I think about everything that has come to me in my life. I feel thankful for both of you, too.

 

Princess Grace and Lynn Wyatt 1970s. Courtesy of Lynn Wyatt.jpg

Lynn Wyatt by Andy Warhol